We are pleased to announce that Holtec International’s engineers and scientists have successfully modified the core of the Company’s SMR-160 small modular reactor to increase the cycle life (operating period between successive refuelings) to nearly 4 years from 3-1/2 years previously achieved using a conventional design. The enhanced core design, referred to as “Opti-Core,” was recently filed with the USPTO for worldwide protection of the underlying intellectual property. This design innovation makes SMR-160 the industry leader in terms of the length of the operating cycle. Thanks to the unitary cartridge design of the core, the outage duration is reduced to 5 days. Together, the length of the operating cycle and short outage duration increases SMR-160’s theoretical availability factor (exclusive of any forced outages) to an eye-popping 99.6%!

The unitary cartridge design, which permits the removal of the depleted core in a single lift as well as installation of the new core in a single lift, is also a part of the patent disclosure on the Opti-Core design.

Opti-Core Fuel Cartridge
Opti-Core Fuel Cartridge

The Opti-Core patent disclosure is the latest in a string of patent filings which have included, among others, SMR-160 design features that give it immunity against the occurrence of a large pipe break LOCA (Loss-Of-Coolant Accident). Another patent filing on the SMR-160 design documents the ability to reject most of the containment’s thermal energy within one hour of a postulated (hypothetical) LOCA. This capability documents a landmark safety achievement. Other patent filings disclose the adroit exploitation of gravity to protect the nuclear steam supply system against postulated abnormal and accident conditions.

“Our solemn goal is to render SMR-160 into a benign presence to the host communities. The array of continuing patent filings over the past three years are the milestones in our journey towards the destination of making SMR-160 the epitome of safety and reliability of nuclear power plants”, says Holtec’s President and CEO, Dr. Kris Singh.

Holtec International’s subsidiary, SMR, LLC, is scheduled to provide a technical briefing on SMR-160 to the USNRC on July 26, 2012.