The US nuclear regulator’s unanimous approval of a licensing framework for advanced non-light water reactors paves the way for regulatory reviews to be aligned with the safety characteristics and simplified designs of Generation IV advanced reactors, the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute has said.

On 26 May the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 4-0 to approve the implementation of a more streamlined and predictable licensing process for advanced non-light water reactors.

This approach is consistent with the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernisation Act (NEIMA), which was passed last year by Congress and signed into law by president Donald Trump in January.

The legislation calls for the development of a licensing process for advanced reactor developers.

Doug True, chief nuclear officer at the NEI, said: “A modernised regulatory framework is a key enabler of next-generation nuclear technologies that can help us meet our energy needs while protecting the climate.”

The NEI said the modernised approach will help regulators develop a new rule for licensing advanced reactors, as required by NEIMA.

It said a well-defined licensing path will benefit the next generation of nuclear plants, which could meet a wide range of applications beyond generating electricity such as producing heat for industry, desalinating water, and making hydrogen.

Marilyn Kray, president of the American Nuclear Society, said earlier this year tht the passage of the NEIMA legislation was a “big win” for the nation and its nuclear community. “By reforming outdated laws, the NRC will now be able to invest more freely in advanced nuclear R&D and licensing activities. This in turn will accelerate deployment of cutting-edge American nuclear systems and better prepare the next generation of nuclear engineers and technologists,” she said.

Date: Friday, 29 May 2020
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