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February 03, 2011

Holtec designs 140 MW underground reactors designed to use passive operations for all functions

Holtec International has announced the completion of proof-of-principle studies for a new underground small modular reactor.

Holtec Asia also expect to play a major role in the development of the "Inherently Safe Modular Underground Reactor "(abbreviated as ISMUR) technology. Holtec International is a U.S.-based diversified energy technology company with its corporate technology center located in Marlton, New Jersey in the South Jersey region of the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The nuclear power division provides services and products to dozens of nuclear power plants

HI-SMUR 140 (for Holtec Inherently Safe Modular Underground Reactor – 140 MWe summary
* passive operations for all functions
* modular factory built construction with units being built in 24 months
* license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by the end of 2012
* probably a conventional light water reactor



Dubbed HI-SMUR 140 (for Holtec Inherently Safe Modular Underground Reactor – 140 MWe) the key selling point of the design, Holtec claims, is that it is "passive in every aspect of its operation." More precisely, the design does not require coolant pumps as it relies on the principle of gravity induced flow. It is also not dependent on off-site power for shutdown purposes and so qualifies as being "inherently safe."

Modular by nature, units would be almost completely manufactured in a workshop before being delivered to a site built to accommodate either a single or multiple units. Site construction work would be limited to containment structures, switchyard, instrumentation and control, and other balance of plant components. The cores of each unit would be buried underground. Holtec said that it expects the construction life cycle for the reactor to be 24 months.

According to Holtec, the development program is "sufficiently funded to carry out detailed design, analyses, licensing and other activities to bring the program to the pre-construction phase." The company said that it has picked out "prominent suppliers of nuclear technologies and systems from around the globe" that it wishes to help support the HI-SMUR program.

Holtec said that it recently transferred the HI-SMUR development program to a newly established subsidiary, SMR LLC. The company said that it is now in the process of filing several patents for both US and intellectual property protection.

A licence application is scheduled to be submitted to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by the end of 2012, Holtec said.

Holtec manufactures components for the nuclear, solar, geothermal and fossil power generation sector. Their nuclear power division has until now specialized in back-end technologies, such as the storage and transport of wastes – both radioactive and non-radioactive.

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