Advanced nuclear tech projects selected for US federal support

23 June 2022

Orano Federal Services and TerraPower will gain access to the US Department of Energy's (DOE) national laboratories to help advance their nuclear technologies under the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.

(Image: GAIN)

GAIN was established by the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy to provide provide the nuclear community with access to technical, regulatory, and financial support to move innovative technologies towards commercialisation while ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing US nuclear fleet. The vouchers give advanced nuclear technology innovators with access to the research capabilities and expertise available across the DOE's national laboratory complex.

Orano is partnering with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop a new technical study that updates the physical chemistry limits of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas enriched up to 10% uranium-235 that can be safely transported in existing shipping containers. Previous studies for UF6 limits in shipping containers have only considered enrichment of up to 5%. The new study will update these studies with current techniques, evaluate the impact of higher enrichments in safety criticality cases in transport conditions, and produce a report that will help underpin regulatory reviews and approval.

TerraPower is developing the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor and the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE), a proof-of-concept critical fast-spectrum salt reactor which is to be built at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The GAIN voucher awarded to TerraPower will be used to leverage the neutron testing capabilities at Los Alamos National Laboratory to measure the properties of chlorine isotopes to determine how they will behave in the MCRE, generating data that will help reduce regulatory uncertainty for chloride salt reactors.

GAIN vouchers are not direct financial awards but provide access to the national labs at no cost. All awardees are responsible for a minimum 20% cost share, which could be an in-kind contribution. This is the third round of vouchers awarded under the initiative for the fiscal 2022.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News