The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued preliminary proposed rule language “for the licensing and oversight of the broad array of fusion systems currently under development,” the agency said in an Oct. 4 Federal Register notice.
The preliminary language encompasses “a limited-scope, technology-inclusive framework that will be added to NRC’s regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations,” the NRC added.
More specifically, the NRC is proposing to amend its regulations at 10 CFR part 30, “Rules of General Applicability to Domestic Licensing of Byproduct Material,” 10 CFR part 20, “Standards for Protection Against Radiation,” and part 51, “Environmental Protection Regulations for Domestic Licensing and Related Regulatory Functions.”
The Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, signed by President Trump on Jan. 14, 2019, directs the NRC to establish a regulatory framework for fusion reactors by Dec. 31, 2027.
In May, the U.S. Department of Energy announced it was providing $46 million to eight companies advancing designs and research and development for fusion power plants.
The funding is part of a DOE initiative to accelerate the viability of commercial fusion energy in partnership with the private sector. The funding announcement came about five months after scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said they achieved net energy gain in a fusion experiment, a critical milestone for the technology.
The NRC plans to hold public meetings on Oct. 11, Nov. 1 and Nov. 9 on the preliminary proposed rule language.