ORNL has been instrumental in supporting NRC in the development and demonstration of a new regulatory framework for licensing SMRs that relies on risk-informed processes that are to be used by the NRC staff in review of SMR design certification applications. This approach more fully integrates the use of risk insights into pre-application activities and the review of SMRs and is a significant change from the NRC current review process. Specifically, this new approach involves the categorization of SMR systems, structures, and components (SSCs) as safety-related and non-safety-related. The NRC is taking a graded approach with the most detailed, in-depth review conducted for SSCs determined to be both safety-related and risk-significant, and a progressively less detailed review applied to SSCs determined to be non-safety-related or not risk-significant.
ORNL has also developed an advanced SMR concept based on the Fluoride High-temperature Salt-cooled Reactor (FHR) technology. The Small modular Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (SmAHTR) is a 125 MWt, integral primary, liquid salt cooled, coated particle-graphite fueled, low-pressure system operating at 700 °C that employs passive decay heat removal. This reactor can be used for scalable electricity generation or as a source of high-temperature process heat.
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