United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
Home > Nuclear Reactors > New Reactors > Advanced Reactors

Advanced Reactors (non-LWR designs)

Advanced Reactor Activities

Non-LWR Vision and Strategy and Implementation Action Plans

As the NRC prepares to review and regulate a new generation of non-light water reactors, a coherent vision and strategy is needed to assure NRC readiness to efficiently and effectively conduct its mission for these technologies. On January 3, 2017, the NRC issued its "Vision and Strategy for Safely Achieving Effective and Efficient Non-Light Water Reactor Mission Readiness." The vision and strategy described in this report, once executed, will achieve the goal of assuring NRC readiness to effectively and efficiently review and regulate advanced reactors.

The NRC is also preparing implementation action plans (IAPs) to identify the specific activities the NRC will conduct in the near-term (0-5 years), mid-term (5-10 years) and long-term (beyond 10 years) timeframes to achieve non-LWR readiness. In the fall of 2016, the NRC released Volume 1 and Volume 2 its draft near-term IAPs to obtain stakeholder feedback. In February 2017, the staff also released the draft mid- and long-term IAPs.

A contributing activity to the near-term IAPs for developing a flexible review process for advanced reactors (Strategy 3) involves the NRC preparing a regulatory review "roadmap" to help reactor developers in their interactions with the NRC staff. The NRC released a draft roadmap document to support discussions with stakeholders during public meetings and other activities. Related guidance is being prepared by the Nuclear Energy Institute and Nuclear Innovation Alliance and will be discussed during future public meetings.

To top of page

NRC-DOE Joint Advanced Reactor Licensing Initiative

In July 2013, the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the NRC established a joint initiative to address a key portion of the licensing framework essential to advanced reactor technologies. The initiative addresses the "General Design Criteria for Nuclear Power Plants," Appendix A to 10 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 50, which were developed primarily for LWRs, by adapting them to the needs of advanced reactor design and licensing. The initiative is being accomplished in two phases. Phase 1, completed by DOE, consisted of reviews, analyses and evaluations resulting in a report issued by the DOE in December 2014 titled, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Advanced (Non-Light Water) Reactors." Phase 2 of the initiative, managed by the NRC, involved review of the Phase 1 DOE work products issuance of regulatory guidance resulting from the review.

On April 7, 2016, the NRC issued the, "Draft - Advanced Non-LWR Design Criteria - April 2016," for informal public comment. The informal public comment period closed on June 8, 2016. After consideration of stakeholder input, the NRC issued draft regulatory guide DG-1330, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Non-Light Water Reactors" for formal public comment. DG-1330 was published in the Federal Register on February 3, 2017, and the comment period closes on April 3, 2017. The NRC plans to issue a final regulatory guide at the end of 2017.

The issuance of this new NRC regulatory guidance is expected to provide the following benefits:

  • reduced regulatory uncertainty for advanced reactor developers,
  • improved guidance for NRC staff reviewing advanced reactor license applications, and
  • improved timeliness and efficiency of licensing activities for both applicants and NRC staff.

The following table lists the meetings that NRC has conducted with external stakeholders in connection with the initiative:

Date Description
10/11/16

Public Meeting on Non-LWR Design Criteria

02/25/15

Non-Public Seminar Modular HTGR Technology and Safety Design Approach

02/18/15

Non-Public Seminar Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor (SFR) Technology and Safety Overview

01/21/15

Public Meeting to Discuss the DOE Report, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Advanced (Non-Light Water) Reactors."

The following table provides access to documents, and correspondence between the NRC and DOE in connection with the initiative:

Date Description
09/15/15 Response to NRC Staff Second Set of Questions on the U.S. DOE Report, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors"
08/17/15 Questions on the U.S. Department of Energy Report, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Advanced (Non-Light Water) Reactors."
07/15/15 Response to NRC Staff Questions on the U.S. Department of Energy Report, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Advanced (Non-Light Water) Reactors."
06/05/15 NRC Staff Questions on the U.S. Department of Energy Report, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Advanced (Non-Light Water) Reactors."
01/15/15 NRC Letter to DOE, "Initiative Regarding U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Licensing Strategy for Advanced Reactor Technologies."
12/08/14 DOE Letter to NRC, "Joint Initiative Regarding U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Licensing Strategy for Advanced (Non-Light Water) Reactor Technologies."
07/09/13 NRC Letter to DOE, "Initiative Regarding U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Licensing Strategy for Advanced Reactor Technologies."

Updates relative to the Phase 2 portion of the initiative are also available by subscribing to the NRC GovDelivery Subscription service.

To top of page

Security Design Considerations

The Commission's "Policy Statement on the Regulation of Advanced Reactors," (73 FR 60612; October 14, 2008) states that the design of advanced reactors should "include considerations for safety and security requirements together in the design process such that security issues (e.g., newly identified threats of terrorist attacks) can be effectively resolved through facility design and engineered security features, and formulation of mitigation measures, with reduced reliance on human actions."

On March 13, 2017, the NRC published a notice and request for public comment in the Federal Register on preliminary draft guidance on non-light water reactor security design considerations. This document sets forth a set of "security design considerations" that a designer should consider while developing the facility design. These considerations, if adequately implemented through detailed design, along with the adequate implementation of administrative controls and security programs, are one way to protect a nuclear power reactor against the DBT for radiological sabotage. The security design considerations document is available in ADAMS at accession no. ML16305A328. The comment period closes on April 27, 2017.

To top of page

Advanced Reactor Workshops

In 2015, the NRC and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began co-hosting a series of Advanced Reactor Workshops. The first workshop was held on September 1-2, 2015, 2015 and included presentations and discussions on roles and responsibilities of the NRC and DOE, previous experience licensing non-LWR designs, critical gaps and needs in research and development that need to be addressed, and suggestions for improvements in the licensing of non-LWR designs. The second workshop was held on June 7-8, 2016 and focused on exchanging information from NRC, DOE, industry and included presentations and discussions on strategies for advanced reactor development and deployment, recent initiatives; and advanced reactor fuel development, qualification, and challenges. Third workshop will be held on April 25 and 26, 2017.

To top of page

Periodic Stakeholder Meetings

The NRC has begun a series of periodic stakeholder meetings to discuss non-LWR topics of interest. The following table lists the meetings that NRC has conducted to date in connection with this initiative:

Date Description
03/22/17
02/02/17
12/15/16
10/25/16
07/27/16

To top of page

Pre-Application Activities

Below is a summary of non-LWR reactor designers with whom the NRC has engaged in some form of pre-application activities. There are many more potential pre-applicants that participate in various industry activities that could be added to this list once they formally engage with the NRC.

Design Applicant Technology
Oklo Oklo Inc. Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor
Transatomic Transatomic Power Molten Salt Reactor
Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) Terrestrial Energy Molten Salt Reactor
Xe-100 X-Energy Modular High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor

To top of page

Related Documents

Over the years, a number of Commission papers and Commission Policy statements have been written on various topics related to licensing of advanced reactors. The staff has assembled a collection of these documents spanning from 2001 to the present. The staff has also assembled a list of stakeholder position papers identifying stakeholder documents that communicate opinions to the staff on technical or policy issues.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 23, 2017