ARC Clean Energy Canada CEO Bill Labbe says a 2029 start-up for an ARC-100 advanced small modular reactor in New Brunswick is aggressive but achievable target. The company is preparing to begin the second phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s Vendor Design Review (VDR) process.
The Government of New Brunswick earlier this year announced CAD$20 million (USD16 million) in funding towards the advancement of the ARC-100 sodium-cooled fast reactor. The Government of Canada has also this year announced funding to advance the design of Moltex’s Stable Salt Reactor – Wasteburner and WAste to Stable Salt (WATSS) facility, and has also announced funding for NB Power to prepare the Point Lepreau site for SMR deployment and demonstration, and to the University of New Brunswick to expand its capacity to support SMR technology development.
The ARC-100 is a 100 MWe fast reactor that leverages proven technology developed at the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR II) sodium-cooled fast-reactor, which was developed at the US government’s Argonne National Laboratory where it operated successfully for thirty years.
The timeline for ARC-100 commercialisation has been “accelerating”, Labbe said. The first – Scoping – phase was completed in 2019; the second phase – Preliminary Design, which includes the second VDR phase, the completion of preliminary design work, validation of cost estimates and integrated schedule, as well as scoping fuel supply and manufacturing capabilities – is now under way and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023. Phase 3, which will include completion of the detailed engineering, procurement orders, construction permit licensing and approval, site preparation work and the execution of a construction contract, is scheduled to run until 2026.
The final – deployment – phase will run from 2027-2030, according to the timeline, and the company expects the first core to be delivered on site by the end of 2028
A simple, inherently safe design, operating at atmospheric pressure, yields lower plant cost.
SODIUM AS COOLANT
The use of sodium instead of water as the coolant allows the reactor to operate at lower pressures, improving the efficiency and safety of the system.
The ARC-100 consumes its own waste and recycles its own fuel, leaving almost no long-term waste. In addition, the technology can recycle waste from traditional reactors to generate energy.
The total plant size is less than a city block and its modularized components can be shipped and installed at the site using regular commercial equipment, such as barges, rail, trucks, and construction cranes.
With a system that is “walk away” fail safe, the ARC-100 does not depend on extra pumps or operator intervention in the event electric power to the plant is disrupted.
TWENTY YEAR REFUELING CYCLE
The proprietary core of the ARC-100 is designed to operate for 20+ years without refueling.
The ARC-100 uses a metallic uranium alloy fuel, which is much simpler and cheaper to fabricate than oxide fuel with exceptional heat transfer characteristics.
ARC-100 Technical Features
Sodium-cooled fast reactor
286 MWt, 100 MWe
Metallic uranium alloy fuel
Long 20-year fuel cycle / 60 year life
Low pressure pool-type reactor
Inherent safety performance
No need for emergency generators
Superheated steam cycle
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.