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DOE awards $3.5M for advanced nuclear reactor projects

28 June 2013

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is awarding $3.5 million for four advanced nuclear reactor projects that go beyond traditional light water designs. These projects—led by General Atomics, GE Hitachi, Gen4 Energy and Westinghouse —will address key technical challenges to designing, building and operating the next generation of nuclear reactors.

The four projects, which have a 20% private cost share, are:

  • General Atomics. General Atomics will conduct research and development on silicon carbide composite material, which could act as a safe and reliable material for fuel rod cladding in advanced reactor designs. Better understanding of silicon carbide composite material will help incorporate this material into advanced nuclear reactor designs and support future licensing efforts.

  • GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. GE Hitachi’s project will develop high temperature insulation materials and robust analysis tools to help design and manufacture electromagnetic pumps for liquid-metal-cooled nuclear reactors. Electromagnetic pumps have less moving parts than traditional mechanical pumps—improving reliability and safety, while reducing maintenance needs.

  • Gen4 Energy. Gen4 Energy will conduct research and development on natural circulation designs for advanced nuclear reactors that utilize a lead bismuth coolant. The project will develop computer models that will help visualize natural circulation flow and integrate it into safe, reliable reactor designs.

  • Westinghouse Electric Company. Westinghouse’s project will conduct analysis on sodium thermal hydraulics to support advanced nuclear reactor design. The project will provide analytical tools to help quantify heat exchanger performance and improve component engineering for sodium-cooled reactor designs.

This investment, the agency said, is support the President’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions and spark innovation across a wide variety of energy technologies including emerging nuclear technologies, as outlined in his climate action plan.

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