Dow's Seadrift site selected for X-energy SMR project

11 May 2023

Dow has selected its UCC Seadrift Operations manufacturing site in Texas for its proposed advanced small modular reactor (SMR) project with X-Energy Reactor Company. The aim is for the project to be completed by the end of the decade.

How the Xe-100 plant could look (Image: X-energy/Dow)

Dow and X-energy will now prepare and submit a construction permit application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The aim is for construction work to begin in 2026.

Each Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor is engineered to operate as a single 80 MW electric unit, optimised as a four-unit plant delivering 320 MWe, on a roughly 30-acre site. The reactor can provide baseload power to an electricity system or support industrial applications with 200 MW thermal output per unit of high pressure, high temperature steam.

According to industrial giant Dow its Seadrift site covers 4700 acres and manufactures more than 4,000,000 pounds (1816 tonnes) of materials per year for use in applications such as food packaging, footwear, wire and cable insulation, solar cell membranes and packaging for pharmaceutical products. Around 1000 people work at the site. The companies believe that the project will reduce the Seadrift site's emissions by about 440,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

The Xe-100 was one of two designs selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE) in 2020 to receive USD80 million each of initial cost-shared funding to build an advanced reactor demonstration plant that can be operational within seven years. X-energy has since completed the engineering and basic design of the reactor and is working on the development and licencing of a fuel fabrication facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The DOE named Dow a sub-awardee under the X-energy Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program Cooperative Agreement. The two companies' joint development agreement, unveiled in March, provides for up to USD50 million in engineering work, half funded by the DOE programme and half by Dow.

Texas governor Greg Abbott said: "This SMR project further cements Texas’s position as a global energy leader and will bring good-paying jobs and more economic opportunity to hardworking Texans in the Coastal Bend."

Clay Sell, X-energy CEO, said: "X-energy will deliver our innovative technology to the Texas Gulf Coast to efficiently and reliably decarbonise the Seadrift site’s heat and power assets. This project will serve as a model for how we can decarbonise processes to create the products relied upon by people all over the world."

Dow Chairman and CEO Jim Fitterling said: "Advanced nuclear has attractive advantages over other sources of clean power, including a compact footprint, competitive cost, and enhanced power and steam reliability. The Seadrift site plays an important role in further advancing Dow’s sustainability goals, as evidenced by our increasing growth and investment at the site."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News