NuScale, a nuclear startup based in Tigard, Oregon, has finally received a design certification from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
That means the company’s mini nuclear reactor is officially safe to use, marking it as the first American modular design to reach this level of federal safety certification.
This marks a critical development in NuScale’s mission to scale down nuclear power to a more efficient and cost-effective size. Moreover, it’s a huge step in the world’s goal of pursuing small-scale nuclear power.
With nuclear power hopelessly expanding due to demand and eating up financial resources, this design could be a key turning point.
Now, that all definitely sounds complicated, but don’t break out into a sweat just yet. As it turns out, the design is pretty intuitive. According to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, here’s how it works:
“NuScale is a natural circulation light water reactor with the reactor core and helical coil steam generators located in a common reactor vessel in a cylindrical steel containment.
The reactor vessel containment module is submerged in water in the reactor building safety related pool, which is also the ultimate heat sink for the reactor. The pool portion of the reactor building is located below grade.”
Basically, in the event of a nuclear mishap, the device automatically puts itself out.
This is how it looks like when it operates normally:
This design is far more self-contained than the gigantic nuclear fission plants that dominate our current relationship with nuclear power.
Basically, NuScale’s design means that there’s a potential future in which those Simpsons-era power plants might become obsolete.
It’s a huge move towards making nuclear power actually safe and affordable.
While NuScale is the first company to get design certified, it’s not the first to try downsizing nuclear power. Its design might indirectly stem from the origins of nuclear power as “portable” energy for submarines.
Still, this is a huge moment for the science community. Here’s hoping a mini-powered future is not so far off on the horizon.
What are your thoughts on NuScale’s design? Share with us in the comments below!