New Projects, Nuclear, Reactors

ARC Canada completes early regulator phase for SMR nuclear design

The Experimental Breeder Reactor-11 operated at the Argonne National Laboratory (Photo courtesy of ARC).

A Canadian firm focused on the next generation of smaller, more adaptable nuclear reactors cleared a major hurdle with the nation’s regulators.

ARC Nuclear Canada Inc. announced it had successfully completed the first phase of vendor design review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. The regulators provide detailed feedback on requirements for a nuclear power plant in Canada.

The successful first phase, however, does not certify the design or license the reactor yet. Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC) is working on its ARC-100 reactor design, which could eventually result in an exportable, factory-produced, 100-MW small modular reactor with 20-plus years of fixed fuel costs, according to the company website.

“This achievement demonstrates to potential clients like New Brunswick, other Canadian provinces and global markets, that we are truly a leader in SMR technology for the ever-growing energy sector,” Norman JD Sawyer, ARC Canada president and CEO, said in a statement. “We believe that our technology, with its prototype proven and its performance documented by over three decades of successful operation, will make a major contribution to the world’s growing demand for safe, low-cost, clean and reliable energy.”

SMR nuclear power can offer load-following capabilities to assist variable renewable energy generation, Sawyer added. Nuclear also offers zero-carbon emissions and would help Canada achieve the reduction standards in the Paris agreement on climate change.

The sodium-cooled ARC-100 small modular reactor design includes a “walk away” passive safety system that, its makers say, insures the reactor would never melt down in a disaster. It also can be fueled with nuclear waste from traditional reactors and will have a 20-year refueling cycle, according to ARC.

The company says its technology has been proven by the 30-year operation of the Experimental Breeder Reactor-11 (EBR-11) prototype reactor (pictured above). The Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois has been operating the EBR-11 as a test and demonstration sodium-cooled fast-reactor power plant.

In March, the company signed an agreement with U.S.-based infrastructure firm AECOM to partner on development of the ARC-100 technology. AECOM–which has experience with more than 39 GW of nuclear plant capacity–will provide architecture and engineering services.

Other global firms working on SMR designs include U.S.-based NuScale Power, France’s EDF and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute in South Korea, among others.

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering and POWERGEN International. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and [email protected]).