NRC Approves First Small Modular Reactor Permit

In a move that could have ripple effects throughout the industry in the near future, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a permit for the construction of a small modular reactor under the auspices of the Tennessee Valley Authority. The first of its kind in the United States, the permit grants the TVA twenty years to build and install the new age reactor, with consideration for more—all under the stipulation they total no more 800 megawatts. Small modular reactors check in at 300 megawatts—roughly half the output of the more traditional plants.

The decision has created a push back from both environmentalists as well as federal agencies, who claim the NRC is bypassing necessary safety and building measures that could pose a potential disaster for surrounding communities. FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, contends that this move opens the door for unregulated and unchecked nuclear technology to enter the industry without proper diligence in emergency planning, nuclear waste disposal, and the inherent risks from cyber security threats and radiation leaks. An expert in the field for the Union for Concerned Scientists, Edwin Lyman, called the permit’s passing “deeply flawed and reckless”, citing the dangers of placing one of these reactors inside a city.

And that’s ultimately the end goal of this action—to bring nuclear energy to bear on cities, communities, building zones, etc. in a mobile and efficient way. For an industry struggling to compete with plentiful natural gas and politically-rosy renewables, the small modular reactor offers a way to even the scales by lowering the enormous up-front cost of building the plant, along with the obvious advantages of new, improved, and innovative technology.

The nuclear industry as a whole has seen a resurgence under the Trump administration, as the President has rolled back several key measures his predecessor enacted to keep nuclear energy in check. If Trump finds himself reelected, the development of small modular reactors could play a crucial role in shaping this country’s energy future moving forward.

As a manufacturer of digital instrumentation, Otek has kept a close eye on the nuclear industry for nearly a decade now, and developed several product models to serve various industry applications over the years. One such model is our NTM-V, from our New Technology Series of DPM’s and Transmitters. Originally developed for a nuclear power plant in the Northeast section of the country, the NTM-V replaces form, fit, and function any Versatile, Sigma, or VMI 9200 series, and is already qualified as a Class 1E instrument.

Designed as a vertical meter, the NTM-V features an automatic tricolor bar display with 4 digits and intensity control, self-diagnostics, isolated serial I/O (USB, RS485, Ethernet), a configurable bar direction (up/down/center zero), math functions, a 4-20mA output, power inputs of 5-32VDC/90-265VAC, and over 30 input signals on externally powered models. The -V carries dimensions of 2.06” W x 4.06”H, and is backed by our lifetime warranty.

With cutting edge technology such as small modular reactors emerging within the industry, Otek continues to improve and innovate our own technology to meet the rising potential of nuclear energy.

For more information on the NTM-V, our efforts to aid the nuclear industry, or any of our other products, please call 520-748-7900 or email our sales office at sales@otekcorp.com