Date: 09/01/2022

Certrec partnered with Abilene Christian University to submit their molten salt research reactor construction permit application to the NRC electronically on time and with quality.

Abilene Christian University (ACU) is charting new territory in the world of applying advanced nuclear power concepts. On August 15, 2022, ACU electronically submitted to the NRC their construction permit (CP) application using Certrec's proven advanced nuclear licensing capabilities and one of Certrec's SaaS applications. Certrec's support ensured the application was completed on time and with quality.

"We were thrilled with the support by Certrec," said Jordan Robison, Director of Engineering for ACU's NEXT Lab. "Certrec was instrumental in helping us to deliver a quality application under the demands of an aggressive schedule."

The challenges in the NRC licensing process include a set of complex, sometimes vague requirements with multiple contributors working to meet a rigid deadline. Certrec's knowledge and experience in licensing advanced nuclear technology, ability to organize complex projects, and advanced online technology all worked together to reduce project schedule, risk, and cost. When the licensing process uses email, paper, and other analog methods, it can quickly become convoluted, adding time to the schedule and the risk of not addressing all the necessary issues.

Abilene Christian University's Nuclear Energy eXperimental Testing Laboratory (NEXT Lab) is focused on research and development needed to use molten salts instead of water as a coolant for nuclear reactors. As leader of the NEXT Research Alliance (NEXTRA), ACU joins with the Georgia Institute of Technology, Texas A&M University, and the University of Texas at Austin in a $30.5 million research agreement sponsored by Natura Resources to design, license, and build the first university-based advanced molten salt research reactor. Through this alliance, students and faculty work together to seek creative solutions to complex problems, and the next generation of leaders in nuclear science and engineering gain real-world experience. In the process, they will see firsthand how their innovation and collaboration can impact the world.

Many months ago, ACU committed to the NRC staff that the CP application would be submitted by August 15, 2022, and with Certrec's assistance they met that commitment. Certrec used its people and online applications to organize and schedule the effort. Certrec took the materials that the NEXTRA consortium had spent over two years developing and helped refine and finalize the CP application while resolving comments from various stakeholders. Certrec's subject matter expertise and lessons learned from previous applications prepared for NRC review were implemented. Certrec sped up the collaborative process by digitizing the entire process using Taktix®. This kept everything organized and moving through the process. Document originals were always carefully protected.

Certrec helped with

  • knowledge and experience in licensing advanced nuclear technology and dealing with related NRC requirements.
  • content preparation and formatting for submittal.
  • automating the entire process to cut execution time, organize the collaboration, and track actions.

Click here for a primer on nuclear research reactors and Certrec's involvement.

Ted Enos, President and CEO of Certrec, said about the project, "ACU's molten salt research reactor helps pave the way for advanced reactor implementations that will be foundational for a clean and reliable energy grid for the near future. We are happy to have contributed substantially to their application submission. With the completion of this construction application, ACU is one step closer to making this project a reality."

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