US advanced reactor developers team up

23 August 2016

X-energy and Southern Nuclear Operating Company have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on development and commercialization of their respective advanced reactor designs.

X-energy is working in partnership with BWX Technology, Oregon State University, Teledyne-Brown Engineering, SGL Group, Idaho National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory on its Xe-100 pebble bed high temperature gas-cooled reactor.

Southern Company Services, a subsidiary of Southern Company, is developing the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) in partnership with TerraPower, Electric Power Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

In a statement, X-energy said its collaboration with Southern aims "to make available an additional nuclear solution that supports the global clean energy movement."

In January, the US Department of Energy (DOE) selected both projects to receive multi-year cost-share funding worth up to a total of $80 million. The DOE will fund cost-shared research and development activities with industry to support the Xe-100 and MCFR.

The Xe-100 design builds on earlier DOE investment in Triso (tristructural-isotropic) fuel technology, and X-energy said that the funding will focus on technology development, including core modelling, fuel fabrication and Nuclear Regulatory Commission "outreach".

Molten salt reactors use molten fluoride salts as primary coolant, at low pressure. The technology was demonstrated in reactors that operated in the 1960s and 1970s. With potential enhanced operational performance, safety, security and economics relative to other advanced reactor concepts, various molten salt reactor concepts are being studied in countries including China.

X-energy CEO Kam Ghaffarian said, "We are thrilled to have Southern Nuclear involved in our project. I founded X-energy in 2009 out of a desire to make a significant and lasting contribution to clean energy generation in the US and around the world. This relationship firmly puts us on that path."

Southern Nuclear chairman, president and CEO Stephen Kuczynski said, "Our relationship with X-energy builds upon the DOE awards we each received and puts the industry on a strong path to providing clean and safe nuclear enrgy for generations to come." He added, "We understand fully the time and manpower it will take to bring the first advanced reactor to market and feel confident that pursuing this goal together will best leverage our combined research and commercial operation experience to do so."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News