ARC Nuclear and GEH seek to commercialize modular nuclear reactor tech in Canada

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's PRISM advanced reactor design. Image: GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Advanced Reactor Concepts LLC (ARC Nuclear) are taking steps to advance their collaboration to develop and license the ARC-100 advanced small modular reactor (aSMR) with initial deployment in Canada.

Small modular nuclear reactors—of 300 megawatts or less, compared to a typical nuclear power plant of 1,000 megawatts—could be built in a factory and shipped to location by truck or train, resulting in lower construction costs and faster timelines than traditional nuclear reactors.

Because of their small size, they have been proposed for generation of emission-free electricity in remote locations and for providing process heat to industrial applications. Though no particular project is in the works, small modular nuclear reactors have been proposed for deployment in the oilsands to decrease bitumen production carbon intensity.

GEH and ARC Nuclear initially announced a collaboration last March to progress the ARC-100 design for global power generation. The companies are working to commence a preliminary regulatory review of the ARC-100 by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission through its Vendor Design Review process. At the same time, a joint GEH-ARC Nuclear engineering team is working to advance the ARC-100 design, which ARC Nuclear said can also offer a viable solution to the problem of nuclear waste.

Through a newly-signed development agreement, GEH intends to license intellectual property associated with its PRISM (Power Reactor Innovative Small Module) advanced reactor design to ARC Nuclear. GEH also agreed to provide to ARC Nuclear access to nuclear infrastructure programs related to quality, safety culture, training, processes, procedures and tools. GEH will make an in-kind contribution to ARC Nuclear through its agreement to provide engineering and design expertise.

GEH, which was established in Wilmington, N.C. in 2007, and ARC Nuclear, a privately held Delaware company founded in 2006, have agreed to re-examine their relationship on completion of the Canadian Vendor Design Review and give consideration to focus for the ARC-100 beyond Canada.

“Our work to date with the GEH team has validated our expectation of the synergy of combining ARC Nuclear’s senior engineers—with their deep sodium fast reactor operational and design experience as key members of EBR-II prototype program—with GEH’s next generation of nuclear engineers and designers with their proven competence in modern nuclear design,” Don Wolf, chairman and chief executive officer, ARC Nuclear, said in a statement. “We are clearly seeing how the power of this engineering collaboration and GEH’s infrastructure can give us a leap forward in reducing both time to market and development costs.”

“This new agreement recognizes that GEH and ARC Nuclear each have significant experience, investment and intellectual property in sodium fast reactor technology derived from Argonne National Laboratory’s successful EBR-II reactor which operated for more than 30 years at Idaho Falls, Idaho,” added Jon Ball, executive vice-president, Nuclear Plant Projects, GEH. “At GEH, we are excited to see how this complementary collaboration will allow us to further accelerate commercialization of this technology with ARC Nuclear.”

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