1. Good news! We need at least one design for an SMR to get through the whole process so that many of the regulatory issues will be forced to be addressed. The next designs will have an easier time going through the process.

    The first through the block will have a tremendous competitive advantage.

    1. A healthy perspective, David.
      It irks me that it isn’t an Adams Engine getting this funding, but I shouldn’t make the Perfect into the enemy of the Good.

  2. I feel it needs to be fast tracked at the NRC and a working prototype needs to be purchased and installed somewhere now ASAP. Even if it is in a containment/testing structure. There is a lifetime of complexity to deal with in these systems and bit by bit minimal funding and SOP pencil pushing and foot dragging isn’t going to make things happen. IMHO.

    Toshiba has a design about ready to go. ( http://www.toshiba.co.jp/nuclearenergy/english/business/4s/features.htm ) Here are the issues : ( http://www.uxc.com/smr/Library%5CDesign%20Specific/4S/Papers/2010%20-%204S%20Response%20to%20the%20Regulatory%20Issues.pdf )

    Unfortunately I think we suck. Although they are probably outstanding at what they do with respect to what they are directed, told are given, I think our NRC is no small part of that. The DOE or even NASA could have made this happen yesterday.

  3. These SMRs are supposed to be scaleable. How will this work for a generating station? Will each unit have its own turbine and generator? Will the plant be built assuming multiple SMRs and have the Balance of Plant (BOP) sized for all the SMRs? It seems like it could have excess cost to duplicate components for each 45 MW reactor. Will there be a common steam header for the plant from each unit?

    Multiple small units for a plant may have a great advantage in load following as intermittent sources come online, some of the units may be shut down.

    1. @Eino

      The NuScale concept makes each reactor module a relatively independent power generator. Each has a complete steam plant with a turbine, condenser, condensate pumps and feed pumps. The shared portion is the handling equipment and the other infrastructure associated with refueling operations.

      I assume there is some sharing in the circulating water system that provides cooling to each module’s condenser.

      1. The modules also share a common cooling water pool, which they sit inside of rather close to one another. Each reactor has its own close-fitting steel containment shell around it, and the space between the reactor and containment vessel is evacuated during normal operation to reduce heat loss to the pool.

        It is odd that they have one turbine per reactor; I would have thought it would be cheaper to use a smaller number of bigger turbines (maybe 135 MW?). Maybe they needed them to be small to fit the rail-road size limit?

        1. Nathan,

          It is my understanding that NuScale intends for each module to be a stand-alone unit that can be built with or without identically designed neighbors in the same facility. This streamlines the licensing and construction while reducing costs (in theory). It also allows the client to more easily customize their system to meet the power needs at their particular location without the need to design, build, fit, and license multiple turbine designs.

  4. I would like to see the first modules put in the unused containment buildings at SONGS. Probably would be too expensive to prepare and re-license for only 90 MWe.

  5. If these become truly marketable, I don’t think there will be the duplication of the secondary side. Having separate equipment for each unit makes everything duplicated right to the switchyard. That is a lot of stuff to maintain. The Nuscale website touts these modules as being a source of steam. I can more easily envision these as a combined steam source feeding a conventional power plant.

    In fact, if licensed promptly, I could see these modules replacing some of the many coal plant boilers that are planned to be shut down. If all components including the steam generators last for 60 years, a lot of money will be made from these.

    When Westinghouse developed the AP600, it wasn’t long to become the AP1000. Perhaps these 45 MW modules have the margin to allow an uprate to 100 MW electric. This may be a more marketable size.

    1. @Eino

      Duplication does not just add cost, it also provides substantial flexibility. There must be a balancing and optimization effort made to determine when the ability to avoid the “single shaft” vulnerability adds more value than the cost of maintaining additional components.

      Here is an example. Suppose you have a group of 10 people. Is it more economical for that group to depend on a single 10 passenger van or to base its transportation on two 5 passenger sedans? Is a fleet of 5 “Smart” cars, each with a two passenger capacity an option?

      1. Good point. The plant will be built to satisfy a given need. If a premium value is assigned to flexibility the redundant systems may be justified. If the main concern is initial capital cost and maintenance cost, common systems may be in order.

        There has been a lot of discussion about distributed power in the last few years. Building high voltage transmission systems is expensive and obtaining rights of way can be very difficult. Sighting smaller generating stations closer to the load may be a future trend rather than the large central station power model. I could see a pollution free safe SMR with an operating life of 60 years fitting into that model. Forty five megawatts may be smaller than many of today’s plants but it is still a lot of power.

        1. @Eino

          I live in a mid-sized town of about 75,000, but it would only take 2-3 NuScale reactors to supply all of our electricity.

          We have that many Wal-Marts and even more Kroger grocery stores.

          1. What would the footprint look like for these two or three reactors? How large would the facility need to be?

            1. @POA

              NuScale has not yet created a conceptual design for a power station with less than 6 units, but that is on their “do” list. It could be moved up in priority with a paying customer.

              However, a 12 unit facility would require something close to the 40 acres that B&W mPower suggests for its two-unit power station.

              A two-unit, 360 MWe B&W mPower facility would provide all of the power needed for several counties here in Southside VA.

  6. I’ve read some great ideas here to help ensure NuScale’s success. I don’t know if the company has yet established a manufacturing site, but would it eventually be practical to power the module production facility with one of the first units? PR-wise, it would be brilliant to present these reactors being built 24/7/365 without producing pollution (especially as the low-carbon alternatives, PV & wind, will never realistically power their own factories).

    Hey, couple this with that nuclear commercial shipping idea, to deliver to developing countries and get their populations some long term energy security without resorting to fossil fuels. All with virtually no pollution.

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