Transportable microreactor project gets US DOE support

26 October 2023

X-Energy Reactor Company, LLC and the US Department of Energy (DOE) have signed a cooperative agreement through 2024 to further advance the development of a transportable mobile microreactor design.

(Image: X-energy)

The agreement has been awarded through the DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy and supports X-energy’s continuing work on architecture and key technologies for the preliminary design of the microreactor, which is expected to produce 3-5 MWe at a commercially competitive price. The award is worth a total of about USD2.5 million and the company will use it to continue advancing X-energy's mobile microreactor beyond technical feasibility to commercial reality, the company's Vice-President of Government Programmes Georgette Alexander-Morrison said.

"This DOE award underscores our role as a leading microreactor developer. We intend to build on our expertise in next-generation nuclear reactor and fuel design, transportable nuclear systems, and small nuclear solutions for space to create a clean and practical microreactor to be competitive with fossil fuel-based power generation used today for commercial and government agency applications," she added.

The US Department of Defense (DOD) Strategic Capabilities Office recently awarded X-energy a contract option to develop an enhanced engineering design for a transportable microreactor suitable for both commercial and defence use under its Project Pele initiative, which was launched in 2019 with the objective to design, build, and demonstrate a prototype mobile nuclear reactor within five years. BWXT and X-Energy were selected in 2019 to develop a final design for the prototype reactor, with BWXT contracted in June 2022 to build a prototype microreactor.

X-energy said its teams are working in parallel through the DOE and DOD-funded agreements on advanced microreactor designs that will make the technology commercially viable in the marketplace and Hans Gougar, the company's lead microreactor engineer, said the DOE award means it can advance the engineering technology that went into its initial designs for Project Pele.

"With the combined support of the DOE and DOD, we are confident that we can reduce costs and deliver a solution that meets the needs of both civilian and military users," Gougar said. "This project brings us closer to deploying emission-free power to replace diesel in hard-to-reach locations, for disaster relief, maritime power delivery, and when critical infrastructure resiliency is threatened."

X-energy is also receiving DOE support for the initial deployment of its Xe-100 advanced reactor and the creation of a commercial facility to manufacture TRISO-X high-assay low-enriched uranium-based fuel for next-generation reactors through its Advanced Reactor Concepts programme. Funding from the DOE's ARPA-E program helped develop operational innovations in the Xe-100 plant design.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News