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Advanced Reactors (non-LWR designs)

Advanced Reactor Activities

Non-LWR Vision and Strategy and Implementation Action Plans

The staff has developed a vision and strategy to assure that the NRC is ready to review potential applications for non-light water reactor (non-LWR) technologies effectively and efficiently. The staff described the vision and strategy in "NRC Vision and Strategy: Safely Achieving Effective and Efficient Non-Light Water Reactor Mission Readiness," which was published in the Federal Register on July 21, 2016, for stakeholder input. The NRC updated its Vision and Strategy Document to reflect stakeholder feedback in December 2016.

To achieve the goals and objectives stated in the NRC's vision and strategy, the NRC has developed implementation action plans (IAPs). The IAPs identify the specific activities the NRC will conduct in the near-term (within 5 years), mid-term (5-10 years), and long-term (beyond 10 years) timeframes. The NRC released its draft IAPs to obtain stakeholder feedback during a series of public meetings held between October 2016 and March 2017. The staff also briefed the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) on March 8 and 9, 2017. The staff considered the ACRS comments and stakeholder feedback in the final Near-Term, Mid-Term and Long-Term IAPs which were issued on July 12, 2017.

The staff issued SECY-18-0011, "Advanced Reactor Program Status" on January 25, 2018. This paper provides the status of the NRC staff's activities related to advanced reactors, including the progress and path forward on each of the implementation action plan (IAP) strategies. It also provides an overview of the various external factors influencing the staff's activities to prepare for possible licensing and deployment of advanced reactors.

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Flexible Licensing Processes for Advanced Reactors

The NRC's review and licensing processes are flexible and allow interactions related to a wide variation in design development and deployment strategies. Based on interactions with stakeholders, the NRC determined that guidance would be beneficial to assist non-LWR developers in planning regulatory interactions. To address this need, the NRC developed guidance for its flexible regulatory review processes within the bounds of existing regulations, including the use of conceptual design reviews and staged-review processes in the document, "A Regulatory Review Roadmap for Non-Light Water Reactors." The "roadmap" is also intended to help designers prepare technology- or design-specific regulatory engagement plans. Regulatory engagement plans define desired outcomes from various interactions between the designer and the NRC, considering factors such as the resources available to the designer and the NRC and the coordination of regulatory issues with other aspects of the overall program for developing and deploying non-LWR designs. Regulatory engagement plans also define the timing and scope of regulatory interactions in order to align with stakeholders activities related to plant design, research and development, finance, public policy, and the fuel cycle. The NRC released a draft roadmap document in October of 2016 to support discussions with stakeholders during several public meetings. The staff incorporated stakeholder feedback, and guidance related to standard design approvals and prototype reactors into the final roadmap, which was issued on December 26, 2017.

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Industry-Led Licensing Modernization Project

The NRC is supporting activities related to the Licensing Modernization Project (LMP) being led by Southern Company, coordinated by NEI, and cost-shared by DOE. The LMP's objective is to develop technology-inclusive, risk-informed, and performance based regulatory guidance for licensing non-LWRs for NRC to review and potentially endorse. The NRC reviewed four LMP white papers: Modernization of Technical Requirements for Licensing of Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors - Selection of Licensing Basis Events, Draft Report, Modernization of Technical Requirements for Licensing of Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors - Probabilistic Risk Assessment Approach, Draft Report, Modernization of Technical Requirements for Licensing of Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors: Safety Classification and Performance Criteria for Structures, Systems, and Components, and Modernization of Technical Requirements for Licensing of Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors: Risk-Informed and Performance-Based Evaluation of Defense-in-Depth Adequacy. The NRC discussed these white papers with industry and other interested stakeholders during a series of public meetings and provided feedback to the LMP project. As discussed in the NRC's letter dated February 28, 2018, these interactions have helped set the stage for developing more formal guidance. Industry responded to the NRC's letter on March 9, 2018.

On March 29, 2018, Southern provided a working draft of Risk-Informed Performance-Based Guidance for Non-Light Water Reactor Licensing Basis Development for discussion. The staff met with NEI, Southern and other non-LWR stakeholders to discuss this draft guidance document on April 5 and 6, 2018. Southern provided an updated draft (Revision "M") of the guidance document on May 27, 2018. The staff held another meeting on June 5 and 6, 2018, to discuss the guidance document. The staff is also scheduled to brief the Advisory Committee for Reactor Safeguards future plant subcommittee in June and October 2018.

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NRC-DOE Joint Initiative - Non-LWR Design Criteria

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, for a 60 day public comment period. The public comment period closed on April 4, 2017. The NRC considered the public comments and held a public meeting for further discussion on August 24, 2017. The staff considered the public comments and stakeholder interactions in preparing the final RG 1.232. On April 3, 2018, the NRC issued the, "Final RG 1.232," along with the, "Public Comment Resolution Table." Final RG 1.232 was published in the Federal Register on April 9, 2018.

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
08/24/17

Public Meeting on Non-LWR Design Criteria

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.

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Advanced Reactor Training Materials

The NRC contracted with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to develop a 12-module training course on molten-salt reactors (MSRs). The course provides background on various MSR concepts presently under development, including a history of earlier MSR projects, descriptions of conceptual designs, and expected technical and regulatory challenges. The training materials are publicly available.

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Testing Needs and Prototype Plants

On June 16, 2017, the NRC issued a preliminary draft document, "Nuclear Power Reactor Testing Needs and Prototype Plants for Advanced Reactor Designs." This document described the relevant regulations governing the testing requirements for advanced reactors, described the process for determining testing needs to meet the NRC's regulatory requirements, clarified when a prototype plant might be needed and how it might differ from the proposed standard plant design, and described licensing strategies and options that include the use of a prototype plant to meet the NRC's testing requirements. The document was discussed during periodic public meetings on advanced reactor topics. The staff considered stakeholder feedback and issued the final paper as part of the regulatory review roadmap in December 2017.

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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. The Third workshop in this series was held on April 25 and 26, 2017. The NRC has now transitioned from this workshop format to more frequent periodic stakeholder meetings to focus on specific topics of interest as discussed below.

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Periodic Stakeholder Meetings

The NRC holds 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
12/13/18
  • Agenda being prepared
10/25/18
  • Agenda being prepared
09/13/18
  • Agenda being prepared
07/26/18
06/14/18
05/03/18
02/01/18
12/14/17
11/02/17
09/28/17
08/03/17
06/22/17
05/3-4/17
03/22/17
02/02/17
12/15/16
10/25/16
07/27/16

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Pre-Application Activities

Below is a summary of non-LWR reactor designers that have formally notified the NRC of their intent to engage in regulatory interactions. There are several 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 Developer Technology
Oklo Oklo Inc. Compact Fast Reactor
Transatomic Transatomic Power Corporation Molten Salt Reactor
Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) Terrestrial Energy USA Ltd Molten Salt Reactor
Xe-100 X-Energy LLC Modular High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor
Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) TerraPower, LLC Molten Salt Reactor
Kairos Power Fluoride Salt-Cooled, High Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR) Kairos Power LLC Molten Salt Reactor

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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, August 16, 2018