Tour of NuScale control room and test facility 1

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13 Comments

  1. Very interesting. I am taking a trip out to Portland and Seattle in November, and was thinking about trying to take a very similar tour.

    For your next stop, I am going to guess that maybe Bellevue, Washington could be involved?

  2. Can someone explain to me a little bit of what sort of testing has/will be occuring? I presume that they cannot actually load nuclear fuel into the reactor, to actually run it, but I would imagine that they can do things like electrically heating water and turning it into steam in the primary loop, to do pressure testing, make sure pumps work as expected, hydrodynamic flow works as expected, scram works as expected, electrical systems work, control systems work, and so on. Pretty much every aspect that is NOT radiological in nature?

    But, how do they test things like shielding, to make sure the reactor won’t lead more radiation than it’s supposed to, behavior of equipement and electrical systems in the presence of a high radiation flux (whether neutron, gamma, alpha, or beta)? And so forth?

    I suppose this preliminary test loop, maybe, doesn’t concern itself so much with the radiological behavior – that will come with a later reactor, once the NRC has reviewed all the non-radiation-related aspects of the system? I suppose with the testing being done on this reactor, the NRC will make a decision on whether to allow a working prototype to be constructed somewhere (e.g. at a National Lab site?) where it can really be tested with fuel loaded?

    1. Also, I’m curious – for the initial reactor protype they’ve built on campus – I was thinking about this the other day – not in the context of NuScale, but just nuclear reactors in general. I formulated the situation, in the form of the following question: “When does a nuclear reactor become a nuclear reactor, and require NRC licensing to be legal?”

      That is, I would presume, so long as you don’t seek to purchase/obtain and load fissile material into a nuclear reactor, you probably *don’t actually need* any permission from the NRC to build a device that is basically non-nuclear in nature if no fuel is loaded into it? It’s just an electromechanical device without any fissile material, right?

      1. Jeff,
        The test setup at OSU uses electric elements to simulate a radioactive core. There is another electrically heated test reactor model of the Westinghouse AP600 there.

        OSU houses a pool type research reactor which has a nuclear core.

  3. Great! All those past examples of natural circulation bode well for the licensing of this new reactor.

    I wonder if this will be simple enough that you can run it with a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) or multiple PLCs. It should be much less sophisticated than other commercial reactors.

    Is it more difficult to create the design for this new reactor or to properly document the design basis for government approval?

  4. NuScale looks like a really simple and safe design … my fear is that the main feature (no pump on the primary side), will be the Achilles’s heel, as you need a certain temperature gradient to start the natural circulation. Also, the lack of primary pumps can’t help during different transients that could impact the stability of the TH parameters.
    Just my 2 cents ….

    1. I haven’t looked at NuScale’s licensing submittals but I would guess that the drawbacks to natural circulation are mainly economic – the low core power density and perhaps a limit on starting up the plant since pump heat is used to heat up the RCS. Do they use nuclear heating to go from cold shutdown to rated power? Or use the secondary side via auxiliary boilers or perhaps the other operating modules?

      Reactor Coolant Pumps are often a liability in a transient. They are a source of leakage, require power (loss of which precipitates a transient), their heat must be removed. In SBLOCAs they are often required to be stopped. On the plus side, their heat does limit the cooldown from a MSLB.

      NuScale also doesn’t have to analyze the startup of an RCP in an idle loop accident.

      1. FermiAgec stated:

        “I haven’t looked at NuScale’s licensing submittals…”

        NuScale licensing submittals can be obtained from links at this web page:

        http://www.nrc.gov/reactors/advanced/nuscale.html

        FermiAged asked:

        “Do they use nuclear heating to go from cold shutdown to rated power? Or use the secondary side via auxiliary boilers or perhaps the other operating modules?”

        Section 3.8 in NP-ER-0000-1198-NP, the NuScale Plant Design Overview, Revision 2, available in the public domain at the web site of the US NRC states:

        “Additionally, during the power module startup process, the CVCS will be used to add heat to the reactor coolant to establish natural circulation flow in the reactor coolant system.”

  5. So that is about the size of the final product? In the brochure it looks similar. Its smaller than I thought, 95 percent capacity factor as well and that’s probably going to be on the low end. ( http://www.nuscalepower.com/overviewofnuscalestechnology.aspx ).That is awesome.

    I am even more excited by the news I saw in your twitter that Coquí RadioPharmaceuticals is opening a facility right in Alachua, my area. It will not only provide needed medical isotopes but also needed high quality jobs and important technology for this region. I suspect it will also be beneficial to UF’s nuclear program. ( http://www.nuceng.ufl.edu/nuclear-program-expands-welcomes-new-director-renovates-reactor/ ).

  6. Very useful information in this article. NuScale would do well to provide this sort of information themselves on a regular basis to improve information for policymakers. Otherwise I hope they engage you to do this for them as this is invaluable to promoting the technology.

  7. What control components are needed for the reactor? It has two reactor recirc valves and two reactor vent valves. It has rod control. It will need rod position indication. Temperature and pressure transmitters will be needed. Nuclear monitoring will be needed. It still has a pressurizer so I’m guessing electric heaters to the pressurizer may be needed. How much redundancy will be needed for these valves and controls? Will it be like BWRs with one out of two taken twice or maybe two out of three? Is there a simplified P&ID out there amongst the links?

    Are they AOVs or MOVs?

    Penetrations at nuke plants were always a problem. I wonder how this reactor will deal with that. Maybe, they haven’t got that far yet.

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