Argonne unveils advanced nuclear reactor design cooperation

08 January 2015

The US Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory will work with three of the world's leading nuclear products and services companies on projects that could unlock the potential of advanced nuclear reactor designs.

The Lemont, Illinois-based laboratory said this cooperation will help create a new generation of safer, more efficient reactors.

The three projects partner Argonne with Areva Federal Services, based in Aiken, South Carolina, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Westinghouse Electric Company, based in Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, to address significant technical challenges to the design, construction and operation of next-generation reactors.

Areva is partnering with TerraPower Company, Argonne and Texas A&M University to conduct thermal hydraulic modeling and simulations and an experimental investigation for liquid metal-cooled fast reactor fuel assemblies. GE Hitachi is partnering with Argonne to develop an updated safety assessment of the company's PRISM sodium-cooled fast reactor. Westinghouse is partnering with Argonne and the University of Pittsburgh to develop thermo-acoustic sensors for sodium-cooled fast reactors.

Argonne said its scientists have been at the forefront of nuclear reactor technology since the lab's founding in 1946 "as the home of the world's first reactors". Research performed at the laboratory over the following decades led to the creation of the current generation of American nuclear reactors, it said.

Argonne scientists and engineers are now working with industry and other national laboratories to provide the technical basis for extending the lifespan of existing reactors. Argonne is also "heavily involved" in research that will enable the next generation of advanced reactors.

"The fact that Argonne is partnering with private industry on three of the five projects selected for funding by DOE says volumes about the quality of work being performed at the lab," said Mark Peters, associate laboratory director for energy and global security.

The five industry-led projects will receive $13 million in cost-share agreements to help address significant technical challenges to the design, construction and operation of next-generation nuclear reactors, based on needs identified by industry designers and technical experts. DOE created the program in 2013.

The awards are part of the US President Barack Obama administration's "all-of-the-above" energy approach and Climate Action Plan. Funding for the awards is provided by the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy.

Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne for the DOE's Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the USA.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News