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Over the last 30 years, almost no new nuclear power plants have been constructed within the U.S. The newest reactor to enter service is Tennessee's Watts Bar Unit 2, which began operation in June 2016. The next-youngest operating reactor is Watts Bar Unit 1, also in Tennessee, which entered service in May 1996.

Recently, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved designs by Portland, OR-based NuScale Power for the use of a new type of reactor called a small modular reactor (SMR). SMRs are intended to be built quickly in a factory rather than on site, and have a lower cost, produce much less power, and tend to be safer than traditional nuclear reactors.

NuScale's SMR design is for a 9 feet (2.7 m) diameter by 65 feet (20 m) high reactor vessel, weighing 650 short tons (590 metric tons). The modules can be delivered by rail, barge, or even by truck, and NuScale's SMR will run on 4.95% enriched uranium-235 fuel assemblies that will need to be refueled every two years.

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Category: Science
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