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 Third Way - Nuclear Reimagined

Regulatory Support​
Through GAIN, DOE – in close coordination with NRC – is providing nuclear technology developers through regulatory framework development and licensing support. This support and its outcomes will take a variety of forms and continue to evolve as technologies mature.  A few high impact actions that have recently completed, or are nearing completion, are listed below.

Regular Industry Interaction with NRC on Advanced Reactor Topics  
Following a successful series of semi-annual DOE-NRC workshops on Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors held in 2015 – 2017, the workshop format was transitioned to more frequent (6 weeks) periodic industry stakeholder meetings with NRC that are focused on specific topics of interest.  GAIN participates in these meetings in support of DOE and through its engagement with the NEI's Advanced Reactor Regulatory Task Force. For information on the topics being addressed in these meetings, please visit the link below. 
NRC Periodic Stakeholder Meetings 

Industry-Led Licensing Modernization Project (LMP) Status
January 21, 2019
The DOE is working with interested stakeholders to support activities related to the advanced reactor Licensing Modernization Project (LMP). This project is being led by Southern Company (on behalf of industry), coordinated with the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and cost-shared by DOE. The project has developed technical licensing methods that are non-LWR technology-inclusive, risk-informed, and performance-based. A key LMP objective is establish formally  NRC endorsed regulatory guidance for this foundational design and licensing approach that can be subsequently used by advanced reactor license applicants, significantly reducing regulatory uncertainty and associated deployment risk.  Advanced reactor developers have been piloting the approach, which is described in NEI 18-04 (draft) to confirm that it meets this objective. Next steps are industry's submittal of NEI 18-04 with a request for NRC endorsement, which is expected later this year via NRC Regulatory Guide.  . 
LMP Status Summary

Key Commission Policy Issue Regarding Containment Now Resolved
December 4, 2018
The Commission formally concurred with the NRC technical staff's recommendations regarding the advanced non-LWR approach for allowing alternatives to large leaktight containment structures (see NRC SECY-18-0096).  Allowing alternatives to containment structures has been an unresolved Commission policy issue for over 25 years, and has been a significant source of regulatory and financial uncertainty for advanced reactor developers.  This more flexible and performance-based "functional containment" approach was proposed to the NRC by DOE-supported work within the NGNP Project, and later the Advanced Reactor Technology Program.  It was more recently confirmed by advanced non-LWR developers to be technology-inclusive through a series of NRC interactions with industry stakeholders earlier this year that were supported by GAIN.

For more information regarding the containment flexibilities available to advanced non-LWR developers, please see SECY-18-0096, "Functional Containment Performance Criteria for Non-Light-Water-Reactors"

Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Non-Light-Water Reactors
April 2018
This document provides fundamental guidance that will reduce regulatory risk for the advanced non-LWR design community.

Cooperation between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Department of Energy (DOE) has culminated in the issuance of a significant licensing aid for developers of advanced non-light-water (non-LWR) reactors. The NRC's new Regulatory Guide 1.232, "Guidance for Developing Principal Design Criteria for Non-Light-Water Reactors," helps developers of these technologies align their concepts with relevant NRC regulations and forms a key portion of the NRC's advanced reactor regulatory framework.

The Regulatory Guide's generic set of Advanced Reactor Design Criteria cover most non-LWR technologies. The guide also includes technology-specific criteria for sodium-cooled fast reactors and high temperature gas-cooled reactors. Revision 0 to RG 1.232 (ADAMS Accession No. ML17325A611) was made available to the public on April 9, 2018.

DOE-NRC Memorandum of Understanding 
November 10, 2016
The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) describes the roles, responsibilities, and the processes related to the implementation of the DOE Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. GAIN is an initiative that is intended to provide the nuclear energy community with increased access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to mover new or advanced nuclear reactor designs toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet.