Advanced reactor projects teams receive US federal risk reduction funding

17 December 2020

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) has selected five teams to receive USD30 million in initial funding for risk reduction projects under its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). All five of the selected designs have the potential to compete globally once deployed, DOE said.

Clockwise from top left: BWXT Advanced Nuclear Reactor; eVinci Microreactor; Kairos KP-FHR; Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment; Holtec SMR-160 (Images: DOE/Kairos Power))

The Risk reduction programme is one of three development and demonstration pathways under the ADRP and aims to design and develop safe and affordable reactor technologies that can be licensed and deployed over the next 10 to 14 years.

The five projects chosen through a funding opportunity announcement issued in May to receive the cost-shared awards are: the BWXT Advanced Nuclear Reactor, a transportable microreactor using TRISO fuel for use in off-grid applications and remote areas; Westinghouse's eVinci Microreactor, a transportable heat pipe-cooled microreactor also using TRISO fuel; the Hermes Reduced-Scale Test Reactor, a scaled-down version of Kairos Power's fluoride salt-cooled high temperature reactor (KP-FHR); the Holtec SMR-160 light-water small modular reactor; and the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment, a project led by Southern Company Services Inc to build and operate a small reactor experiment based on TerraPower's molten chloride fast reactor technology.

"All of these projects will put the US on an accelerated timeline to domestically and globally deploy advanced nuclear reactors that will enhance safety and be affordable to construct and operate," Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said. "Taking leadership in advanced technology is so important to the country's future because nuclear energy plays such a key role in our clean energy strategy."

DOE expects to invest about USD600 million over the next seven years in ARDP, which aims to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the USA. Two projects led by TerraPower and X-energy were selected in October to receive $160 million in initial funding for under its Demonstration projects pathway to develop and construct two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years. ADRP's third pathway, Advanced reactor concepts 2020, will support innovative and diverse designs with potential to commercialise in the mid-2030s.

ARDP will also leverage the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) at Idaho National Laboratory to test and assess these technologies. "These projects show the importance of continuous innovation in advanced reactors and NRIC looks forward to working with each of the companies on successful demonstrations" NRIC Director Ashley Finan said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News