Office of Nuclear Energy

5 Key Resilient Features of Small Modular Reactors

July 3, 2018

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Despite efficiency improvements and a decline in annual power consumption, the United States continues to experience a higher volume of electric outages than most developed nations.

Having a resilient and secure grid matters—and it’s why we need power systems that are able to adapt, withstand and recover from extreme weather events in addition to cyber and physical attacks.

For more than half a century, the nation’s fleet of nuclear reactors has been reliably running non-stop—regardless of the weather—to keep electricity prices stable and affordable.

And with new technology like small modular reactors (SMRs) on the horizon, nuclear’s resilience is being further enhanced.

Check out these 5 key resilient features of SMRs:

Small modular reactor guardians of the grid 5 resilient features: black start, islanding, modularity, fuel security and under ground construction.
Click above to download the infographic.
Graphic by Sarah Harman | U.S. Department of Energy
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Black Start

SMRs can start up from a completely de-energized state without receiving energy from the grid. This can help an electricity grid meet system requirements in terms of voltage, frequency and other attributes when recovering from an outage.

Islanding

SMRS can operate connected to the grid or independently. If attached to a microgrid with islanding, an SMR could power critical facilities such as hospitals, data centers and military bases.

Underground Construction

SMRs can be built underground—making them less vulnerable to extreme weather events, earthquakes, electromagnetic pulse (EMP) threats and other intentional destructive acts.

Fuel Security

SMRs can easily store fuel on-site, allowing them to run, in some instances, for a decade or more without the need of an external fuel supply.

Plants can also stagger the refueling of its modules—allowing them to stay online and provide constant power to the grid without any disruptions.

Modularity

SMRs have a modular design that minimize the use of electrical parts. Many of them use passive cooling features that don’t require any safety-related electric pumps or operator intervention to safely shut down.

Learn more about small modular reactors.

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