Nuclear safety regulators in the United States and Canada recently concluded their collaborative project, which focused on small modular reactor licensing. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission have released a joint report that offers feedback on the manufacturing codes it suggests for use in both Canada and the U.S. for the Xe-100 reactor pressure vessel design.
The report is the first result of the program of cooperation that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission entered into in August 2019. At the time, President Rumina Velshi of Canada’s nuclear commission stated that global advances and interests in advanced and small modular reactors was growing rapidly, which was why the U.S. and Canada were working together to ensure the deployment and development of these technologies was done efficiently and safely.
The agreement between the two regulators has allowed both commissions to take into consideration the insights and results produced by the technical reviews of reactor designs. During this project, the regulators combined efforts to evaluate a paper submitted by X-energy last year, which contained the manufacturing codes the firm planned to use in its Xe-100 high temperature reactor pressure vessel design.
The Xe-100 is an 80 megawatt electrical high temperature gas-cooled reactor that will be manufactured in packs of four. The reactor is taking part in the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, which is being held by the U.S. Department of Energy. In addition to this, it’s undergoing vendor design review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
X-energy planned to design the reactor vessel to meet the requirements of a specific code that was issued by the ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) but manufacture it to meet the quality requirements and assurance of another ASME code and brand it as such.
The company proposed that the reactor be manufactured both at the Darlington power plant under Ontario Power Generation and the Columbia power plant under Energy Northwest. For more details, you can access the joint report here.
Both regulators came to the conclusion that the approach was feasible, provided the company included some additional technical justifications, which were stated in the report and addressed the regulators’ observations which were mentioned in the document. In their report, the regulators stated that the suggested approach could be used to establish criteria for the Xe-100 high temperature reactor’s pressure vessel design and manufacture.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission also noted that their feedback was informal and would not be used in any regulatory decision making.
As such collaborations take root among different countries, the penetration of nuclear energy is likely to increase, and that could create an even bigger market for uranium extraction companies such as Energy Fuels Inc. (NYSE American: UUUU) (TSX: EFR).
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