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Holtec’s Small Modular Reactor Can Go Almost Anywhere, Even Michigan

Holtec International is on the verge of doing something that’s never been done before in the nuclear sector: bringing a nuclear plant back to life.

The company is working to repower the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station in Michigan by 2025 and received a conditional commitment of up to $1.52 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help out.

But that’s not the only groundbreaking work happening there.

The company also plans to build its first two small modular reactors (SMRs) at the plant by the mid-2030s to nearly double the clean power generation at the site.

The SMR-300

The SMR-300 is a pressurized light-water reactor that creates energy through fission.

It uses the same low-enriched uranium fuel as traditional reactors operating today and will produce at least 300 megawatts of electric power on a tiny parcel of land.

The components of its modular design will be built in factories that can be shipped and assembled on-site for maximum flexibility. The reactor itself will be placed underground, protecting it from extreme weather events and other threats, and will be designed to passively cool during shutdown without the need of external power or human intervention for enhanced safety.

One key feature of the SMR-300 is that it can also operate in places like the desert.

Unlike most traditional nuclear power plants that require large quantities of water, the SMR-300 can be adjusted to use an air-cooling system to deliver reliable heat and power in arid environments around the world.

Reactor Coolant System Components and Primary Loop
Reactor Coolant System Components and Primary Loop
Holtec International

Additional Benefits of the SMR-300

Reduced Cost – The SMR-300 is expected to be less expensive to build and maintain than traditional nuclear plants. All of the reactor’s components are 12 meters in diameter or less. This allows for fabrication and pre-assembly of components in a factory that can be paired with flexible and more affordable shipping options. The removal of unnecessary redundant systems and addition of automated features are also expected to lower operations and maintenance costs.

Established Supply Chains – By using the same fuel as current nuclear power plants, the SMR-300 takes advantage of existing nuclear fuel supply chains and infrastructure in the U.S. and removes the cost and time needed to develop a new fuel technology. The reactor can also take advantage of new fuel types that are under development to further improve fuel cycle economics, such as new fuel claddings.

Small Footprint – The SMR-300 is designed to operate on an area of land that is smaller than the size of 11 football fields giving the reactor more flexibility in where it is located. This creates opportunities to bring nuclear power to remote parts of the world that historically rely on fossil fuels.

Versatile – The reactor will produce 300 megawatts of reliable, carbon-free power and can also provide thermal energy for use in industrial processes, residential and commercial heating, desalination, or clean hydrogen generation.

What’s Next?

The SMR-300 is one of seven advanced reactor designs supported by DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program and the only one based on proven light-water reactor technology.

In 2020, the project received a $116 million award to help accelerate early-stage design, engineering, and licensing activities. The funding will also support future deployment efforts at the Palisades site, including a detailed design completion.

This will be followed by the future submittal of a construction permit application and the eventual commissioning of the plant in the 2030s.

Holtec is also considering deployment of the SMR-300 at its Oyster Creek site on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey that could support clean hydrogen generation in the region as part of the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2) selected by DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.

The company has received interest from the international community as well and is currently in the early design review stages in the United Kingdom and Canada to deploy its SMR.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy