GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) said that its next-generation reactor model, the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR), has passed and cleared a safety review conducted by an advisory committee for the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The completion of this review clears a key hurdle in the company’s bid for the design certification of the 1,520MW ESBWR, which now begins the federal rule-making process and sets the stage for final NRC certification by the fall of 2011.

In its 20 October 2010 letter , the NRC’s independent Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) issued its safety recommendation for the ESBWR design, which is required before a new reactor technology can achieve final certification.

As a result, GEH’s technology is on target to become a certified ‘Generation III+’ reactor model.

GE submitted the ESBWR to the NRC in August 2005.

GEH said that the 1,520MW ESBWR offers an advanced passive safety features, simplified construction and operation and the lowest core damage frequency on the market.

GEH and Michigan utility DTE Energy are collaborating on a potential ESBWR project adjacent to its existing Fermi 2 nuclear plant, 35 miles south of Detroit.

The NRC is currently reviewing the utility’s license application for the proposed Fermi Unit 3.

DTE Energy, which operates Detroit Edison, has not yet made a decision to proceed with construction of the new reactor, according to the company.