Office for Nuclear Regulation

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Advanced Nuclear Technologies (ANTs)

ANTs encompass a wide range of innovative nuclear reactor technologies, including Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) and Advanced Modular Reactors (AMRs).

In October 2017, as part of the Clean Growth Strategy, the government announced that it will invest up to £7 million (£5 million to ONR and £2 million to the Environment Agency) to further develop the capability and capacity of the nuclear regulators to support and regulate the development of ANTs.

In September 2018, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced that eight organisations have been awarded contracts to produce feasibility studies as part of phase 1 of the AMR Feasibility and Development project.

To meet the objective set by BEIS, ONR has developed a programme of work between 2017 and 2020, with the following objectives:

  • Develop ONR capability and capacity
  • Review ONR’s guidance and processes
  • Advise BEIS’ AMR feasibility and development programme
  • Increase engagement with international regulators
  • Engage with ANT industry

Development of ONR’s capability and technical expertise in ANTs

We have undertaken a familiarization exercise with broad AMR technologies which has helped us to identify key safety considerations, knowledge gaps and priorities for future work. 

On this basis, we have developed a training strategy and plan, including attendance at training courses, seminars and conferences. A Knowledge management process is in place to ensure that knowledge is maintained and shared within ONR.

Regulatory advice for policy development and the government 'AMR research initiative'

The UK government launched an initiative in December 2017 to make up to £44m R&D funding available for developing advanced reactors.

BEIS has requested ONR to advise the government on the level of regulatory confidence in the AMR designs (considered as part of this initiative) being able to meet UK regulatory requirements in the future.

We have developed a regulatory criteria based on our existing regulatory guidance to apply it in the context of the AMR feasibility studies.

Development and implementation of a plan to engage with industry

ONR has developed a process that enables us to engage with the ANT industry. We are following an engagement via seminars and 1-to-1 workshops over 3 stages.

Development and implementation of a plan to extend ONR’s engagement with international regulators

ONR actively participate in ANT international forums, for example:

We will also be seeking further opportunities to enhance our engagement with overseas regulators.

Development and implementation of a plan to ensure that the regulators’ processes and guidance are fit for purpose of regulating ANTs

We are undertaking a focused review of our guidance (SAPs, SyAPs & TAGs) to ensure that it is fit for purpose to regulate ANTs. The first stage of the ongoing work considers SMRs. The focused review of our guidance on licensing nuclear installations will be considered at a later stage.  

The Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process is being modernised taking account of learning from previous assessments and by introducing greater flexibility into the process which is important for ANTs.

ONR’s ANT Team

Our ANT team is part of the New Reactor Division and is formed by a multidisciplinary team of experts including; Safety Analyses disciplines such as Fault Studies; Engineering disciplines such as Structural Integrity and Science disciplines such as Reactor Chemistry.

New Reactors Division work structure

  • New Reactors Division
    • Other projects
    • ANTs
      • AMRs
        • Liquid metal fast reactors
        • Molten salt reactors
        • High temperature gas reactors
      • Training and knowledge management
      • SMRs
        • Review of guidance
        • Review of processes
        • Industry engagement