Toshiba may still be struggling with financial difficulties but other nuclear developers are pushing ahead with progress. This month GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and Advanced Reactor Concepts LLC (ARC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on progress a joint SMR design.
Both GE Hitachi and ARC have extensive experience with advanced nuclear, specifically sodium-cooled fast reactors. Both of their reactor designs are based on the same prototype, the EBR-II at Argonne National Laboratory Idaho, which ran successfully for more than 30 years. Despite the similarity between their reactors, they have been designed for very different purposes. The ARC-100 is for efficient and flexible electricity generation, while operating for up to 20 years without the need for refuelling. On the other hand, PRISM has primarily been focused on closing the fuel cycle by using spent fuel and other “waste” and therefore is designed to refuel every 12 to 24 months.
Their collaboration will initially be aimed for deployment in Canada. The companies will pursue a preliminary regulatory review through Canada’s Vendor Design Review process, building on earlier technology licensing success in the USA. Sodium cooled reactors are one of the most advanced technologies so most likely to be able to replace the current, ageing, outdated fleet of reactors.