Small and Medium-Sized Reactors
There is currently great interest in Small and Medium Reactors (SMRs) for nuclear power generation. The U.S. DOE recently announced an Industry Partnership Program for Small Modular Reactors to facilitate development and deployment of U.S.-owned designs at domestic locations focused upon design certification and licensing expected to award up to 452 M$ in federal funds in a cost-sharing arrangement to each of two industry teams. Small reactors have power levels of less than or equal to 300 MWe while medium reactors have powers between 300 and 700 MWe.
SMRs have lower financial investment requirements and can be deployed incrementally with shorter construction times than large economy-of-scale plants enabling planning and financing to be spread out over time. The SMR designer can take advantage of design simplifications that are not feasible at large scale to break the economy-of-scale penalty of increasing plant cost per unit electrical power ($/kWe) as the plant power lever (MWe) decreases. The SMR arena currently involves many players of which examples shall be provided. ANL's Nuclear Engineering Division has been involved in the development of Liquid Metal-Cooled Fast Reactor SMR concepts since 1997 well before the current excitement about SMRs. An example of the ANL SUPERSTAR Lead-Cooled Fast Reactor (LFR) SMR concept suitable for international deployment which offers a number of significant benefits shall be discussed.