DoE funds further HTGR studies

30 January 2013

The US Department of Energy (DoE) has awarded $1 million towards continued studies into high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs). A reactor design has already been selected for development.

The Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) Industry Alliance said that it had been awarded the funds for a 50/50 cost-shared contract to "continue business and economic analysis for using HTGR technologies." In addition to electricity generation, other potential applications for such reactorsrange from hydrogen production and the refining of petroleum and biofuels to seawater desalination, fertilizer production, shale-oil recovery and combined heat and power.

The US Energy Policy Act of 2005 established the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project to have a prototype HTGR and associated electricity or hydrogen production facilities operation by 2021. The legislation stipulated that the NGNP project was to be led by the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and that a cost-sharing arrangement should be entered into with the private sector. The total cost of the project is currently estimated at some $4 billion.

The NGNP Industry Alliance - which includes major reactor vendors and potential end users - was established for this purpose. The group has fourteen member companies, including reactor vendors Areva and Westinghouse, utility Entergy, and potential end-users of electricity and process heat such as Dow Chemical and ConocoPhillips. The NGNP licensing plan was submitted to Congress by the DoE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in August 2008. Entergy Nuclear, as a member of the Alliance, has assumed the role of applicant for the HTGR pre-application and licensing activities for the Alliance.

Areva's Antares prismatic steam-cycle high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (SC-HTGR) concept was selected by the NGNP Industry Alliance in February 2012 as the optimum design.

Executive director of the NGNP Industry Alliance Don Halter commented, "We are very excited about continuing to work in partnership with the DoE on advanced energy opportunities while making a solid case for what we believe to be the nuclear technology for the future and a safe and clean energy option for generations to come."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News