Pathways and frameworks for the licensing and regulation of advanced nuclear reactors in the United States
Author(s)White, Robert Patrick.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
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Nuclear regulation lies at the nexus of public policy, business, and engineering. While current regulatory processes have become fairly effective for the regulation of existing nuclear power plants, the use of prescriptive technology-specific requirements may present a challenge for the licensing and deployment of advanced nuclear power plants. These advanced nuclear power plants can utilize passive systems, new fuel forms or coolants, or other new design features to accomplish their safety and security functions. Advanced reactors may not comply with existing requirements for nuclear power plant licensing due to their departure from the design philosophies and reactor technologies used in existing nuclear power plants. The challenge of licensing advanced nuclear power plants using existing regulatory requirements could increase the time and costs associated with licensing new plants, and jeopardize the commercial viability of the industry.In this work, the principles of nuclear regulation are presented and discussed in the historical context and evolution of licensing and regulating nuclear power plants in the United States and abroad. The current licensing system for commercial nuclear power plants in the United States is then discussed in detail. Existing and proposed processes for advanced nuclear reactor licensing are presented, and challenges of advanced reactor licensing are discussed. Finally, a methodology is developed and presented for selecting an appropriate licensing pathway for a proposed advanced reactor. Answers to ten characterization questions are used to recommend which existing regulatory tools and pathways available in the United States could enable the most effective licensing of an advanced reactor. The proposed methodology could prove a valuable tool for companies seeking to develop new reactor technologies while minimizing licensing costs, schedules, and related uncertainties.The methodology is accessible for users with limited experience with (or knowledge of) existing nuclear regulations. The recommendations for policy changes and the advanced reactor pathway selection methodology presented in this work could enable the more efficient licensing and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: S.M., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, 2019Cataloged student-submitted from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 93-96).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nuclear Science and Engineering.