After Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., Ltd. (KHNP) signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia to export SMART nuclear reactors, the Korean-designed water nuclear reactor also passed preliminary review by the export regulatory commission in the U.S.
The KHNP announced that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepted the design certification application of Korea’s light water nuclear reactor APR1400 and started a full review.
This is the 4th time in the world for a reactor to pass design certification. Until now, one reactor design from the U.S. is certified, while two other designs from France and Japan are under examination.
The APR1400, which is currently in operation as the Shin Kori 3 and 4 reactors in Korea, is an advanced water nuclear reactor developed by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). Along with KEPCO, the KHNP submitted the design certification application to the NRC on Dec. 23 last year.
Since APR1400 is the first reactor model to pass the strengthened preliminary review system of the NRC, it is highly likely to receive its final approval.
The NRC certificate for reactor design measures the safety of the standard design of an overall nuclear power plant, excluding some designs based on the characteristics of the plant site.
Once a design obtains a certification, it is deemed safe enough to construct in the U.S. Also, it can be exempted from examinations on standard design certifications, so it saves time and money for the construction and operation license procedures.
Up to now, only five designs, including the AP1000 enhanced pressurized water reactor from Westinghouse Electric Company, have been certified, An enhanced pressurized water reactor EPR from Areva of France and an enhanced pressurized water reactor APWR from Mitsubishi of Japan are currently both under review of the design certification.
According to the KHNP, demand for new alternative nuclear reactors in the U.S. is expected to grow, because the operating licenses for many reactors are scheduled to expire in the next 10 to 20 years.
Under the current licensing conditions in the U.S., only certified reactor designs that meet U.S. safety requirements can be built. Therefore, they are highly likely to win contracts in the future.
Also, the KHNP is going through the certification procedure in Europe for the European specialized model APR-1400, accelerating reactor exports in earnest.