DoE consults industry on NGNP

18 April 2008

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has appealed to industry on "how best to achieve the goals and meet the requirements" of its Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project.


The DoE has issued a request for information and expressions of interest in NGNP, an advanced reactor project that should result in a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor at Idaho National Laboratory.


NGNP would be co-located with an industrial plant that would use process heat from the reactor. In the past, hydrogen production has been in the frame as the purpose of the facility, but the DoE's latest statement refers back to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 which said NGNP should be capable of producing hydrogen, electricity and/or process heat.


The DoE said that the appeal would help it to finalize ongoing conceptual design efforts and further define the reactor's performance, safety and functional requirements as well as the estimated cost and schedule for its construction and operation.


Last year, following budget and prioritisation troubles, the DoE asked for expressions of interest from prospective industry teams that could provide design services for NGNP. Those were to build upon $8 million-worth of pre-conceptual design contracts awarded to Areva, General Atomics and Westinghouse in 2006.


Those companies would be expected to again contact the DoE. Westinghouse is part of a coalition of companies supporting the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) for the NGNP project. It is joined by South Africa's PBMR Pty and Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET), China's Tsinghua University, the Shaw Group, Sargent and Lundy.


Meanwhile, General Atomics is putting forward its GT-MHR concept, an annular core high-temperature gas-cooled reactor it says is suitable for hydrogen production, while Areva has the similar Antares design.


"Once expressions of interest are received and evaluated, the DoE will use the responses to develop a final strategy for partnering with industry to deploy the NGNP project," said the department. Parties interested in helping the DoE decide what to build have until 10 June.