Oak Ridge National Laboratory to collaborate with TVA on advanced reactors

20 February 2020

The US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) are to collaborate on the economic feasibility of potentially licensing, building, operating and maintaining one or more advanced nuclear reactors - such as a small modular reactor - at TVA's Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The new MoU builds on previous cooperation between ORNL and TVA, including the use of modeling tools developed at ORNL to predict the first six months of operations of unit 2 at TVA's Watts Bar nuclear power plant, which entered commercial operation in 2016 (Image: Andrew Godfrey/ORNL)

The partnership will take advantage of ORNL's scientific expertise and its unique facilities, including the High Flux Isotope Reactor, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.

TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash said the partnership supports TVA's mission for innovation and will allow it to "better explore potential future nuclear technologies that benefit the 10 million people across seven states and help lead nuclear energy's future in the United States".

Under their latest Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), ORNL and TVA will evaluate: development of advanced construction techniques; integrated development activities for site infrastructure support; development of various economic deployment catalysts; innovation of advanced manufacturing technologies; and, the use of technology deployment to meet regulatory and safety requirements more efficiently.

Last December, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission authorised the issuance of an early site permit to TVA for the potential construction of small modular reactors (SMRs) at its Clinch River site. TVA has yet to decide whether to actually construct such reactors at the site and, if so, what technology it would use. Should TVA decide to build SMRs at Clinch River, it would need to apply separately for an NRC licence to build and operate them.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News