Issued Design Certification - Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor (ESBWR)

Who:   GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH)
What:   Application for a Standard Design Certification for the Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor (ESBWR), a 4,500 MWt reactor, which uses natural circulation for normal operation and has passive safety features.
When:   GEH submitted the Standard Design Certification on August 24, 2005. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a final rule certifying the design on October 15, 2014.
Where:   See our map showing locations of projected new nuclear power reactors.

For additional detail, see the following topics on this page

For information on the combined license (COL) application referencing the ESBWR design, please see the Combined License Applications for New Reactors.

Project Overview

The NRC certified the U.S. Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor (ESBWR) design in October 2014. The ESBWR, designed by GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), is a single-cycle, boiling-water reactor (BWR), with a rated power of 4,500-MWt. The containment vessel is a cylindrical steel-lined reinforced concrete structure integrated with the reactor building. Based on the reference design, the plant operates at an estimated gross electrical power output at a rated power of 1,594 megawatt electric (MWe) and a net estimated electrical power output of approximately 1,535 MWe. These electrical output numbers can vary by as much as 50 MWe, depending on the turbine island design and site-specific conditions. The ESBWR design provides a low-leakage containment vessel, which comprises the drywell and wetwell. The ESBWR uses a direct-cycle, natural circulation BWR for normal operation and has passive safety features. Within the containment structure are the reactor, elevated gravity-driven cooling system (GDCS) water pools to passively provide an emergency core cooling system (ECCS), and a raised suppression pool. The ESBWR standard plant includes buildings dedicated exclusively or primarily to housing systems and equipment related to the nuclear system or controlled access to these systems and equipment.

GEH submitted an application for final design approval (FDA) and standard design certification for the ESBWR on August 24, 2005. By letter dated December 1, 2005, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accepted the application for docketing, and assigned Docket No. 52-010. The staff's formal review of the application was initiated in December 2005. The NRC staff issued the FDA and a Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER) for the ESBWR design in March 2011. The NRC published a proposed rule in the Federal Register on March 24, 2011 (76 FR 16549) to certify the ESBWR design. The FSER and the proposed rule were based on the NRC's review of Revision 9 of the ESBWR Design Control Document (DCD).

In late 2011, while the NRC staff was preparing the final rule, issues were identified with the ESBWR steam dryer, a nonsafety-related component. These issues called into question certain conclusions in the staff's safety review. Publication of the FSER as a NUREG was delayed while the steam dryer design methodology was under review. On April 1, 2014, GEH submitted changes to the ESBWR design information in Revision 10 of the ESBWR DCD. The NRC staff evaluated those changes in a Supplemental FSER issued on September 24, 2014. The March 2011 FSER was published as NUREG-1966 in April 2014. The Supplemental FSER was published as NUREG-1966, Supplement 1 in September 2014.

The NRC's Executive Director for Operations (EDO) transmitted the final rule to the Commission on August 1, 2014 (SECY-14-0081, "Final Rule: Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor Design Certification"). On September 16, 2014, the Commission voted to approve the final DCR for the ESBWR standard plant design, and the Secretary of the Commission signed the final rule on October 6, 2014. On October 15, 2014, the NRC issued the ESBWR final rule in the Federal Register (79 FR 61944). Applicants or licensees intending to construct and operate a plant based on the U.S. ESBWR design may do so by referencing the final rule, as set forth in Appendix E to Title 10, Part 52, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR Part 52, Appendix E). The NRC staff agreed that the ESBWR FDA can be "retired" (i.e., withdrawn by the NRC) as GEH has voluntarily requested on June 3, 2014.

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Applicant's Design Control Document

Please note that because of format conversion issues, some of the documents listed in the following table contain hyperlinks to other areas within the entire set of documentation that will not work.

Part Chapter Title Revision
Tier 1 1-5 GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy DCD Tier 1 Chapters 1-5 Rev. 10
Tier 2 TOC Table of Contents Rev. 10
1 Introduction and General Description of Plant Rev. 10
2 Site Characteristics Rev. 10
3 Design of Structures, Components, Equipment and Systems Rev. 10
4 Reactor Rev. 10
5 Reactor Coolant System and Connected Systems Rev. 10
6 Engineered Safety Features Rev. 10
7 Instrumentation and Control Systems Rev. 10
8 Electric Power Rev. 10
9 Auxiliary Systems Rev. 10
10 Steam and Power Conversion System Rev. 10
11 Radioactive Waste Management Rev. 10
12 Radiation Protection Rev. 10
13 Conduct of Operations Rev. 10
14 Initial Test Program Rev. 10
15 Accident and Analysis Rev. 10
16 Technical Specifications Rev. 10
Generic Technical Specifications Bases Rev. 10
17 Quality Assurance Rev. 10
18 Human Factors Engineering Rev. 10
19 Probabilistic Risk Assessment and Severe Accidents Rev. 10

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NRC Safety Evaluation Report

  • NUREG-1966, "Final Safety Evaluation Report Related to the Certification of the Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor Design"
  • NUREG-1966, Supplement 1, "Final Safety Evaluation Report Related to Certification of the Economic Simplified Boiling-Water Reactor Design, Supplement 1"

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Design Certification Rule for the ESBWR Design

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For additional information regarding the ESBWR design certification, please Contact a Public Affairs Officer.

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