The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has officially announced its decision to develop fusion regulations under a byproduct material framework, similar to how they currently regulate particle accelerators and many types of medical facilities. The selection of this regulatory path is a recognition of the stark differences between fusion's safety relative to nuclear fission, which the NRC regulates under a separate framework. The decision provides important clarity for fusion technologies to continue to advance in the U.S., and lowers regulatory hurdles for future devices developed by Zap Energy and its peers.
"This is a huge win for fusion in terms of both regulatory certainty as well as right-sizing," says Ryan Umstattd, Zap Energy's Vice President of Product & Partnerships. "Now, as NRC staff prepare to take their next steps on clarifying guidance, we know that they will seek and expect our input."
“Dozens of companies are developing pilot-scale commercial fusion designs, and while the technology’s precise future in the United States is uncertain, the agency should provide as much regulatory certainty as possible given what we know today,” explained NRC Chair Christopher T. Hanson in the NRC's official announcement. “Licensing near-term fusion energy systems under a byproduct material framework will protect public health and safety with a technology-neutral, scalable regulatory approach.”
This key advancement for fusion was the result of more than two years of significant work and engagement with the NRC by members across the fusion industry. The Zap team will continue to engage with the NRC to provide data and specifications that will help guide ongoing efforts to protect the health and safety of both people and the environment while allowing the transformative clean energy technology to continue to move toward commercialization.
For more details, see:
- The official announcement by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- A writeup about the news by the Fusion Industry Association
About Zap Energy
Zap Energy is building a low-cost, compact and scalable fusion energy platform that confines and compresses plasma without the need for expensive and complex magnetic coils. Zap’s sheared-flow-stabilized Z-pinch technology offers the shortest potential path to commercially viable fusion and requires orders of magnitude less capital than traditional approaches. Zap Energy has over one hundred team members in two facilities near Seattle and is backed by leading financial and strategic investors. Visit Zap online at zapenergy.com.
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