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DOE awarding $60M to 13 projects for advanced nuclear technology development; $40M of that to NuScale for SMR

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has selected 13 projects to receive approximately $60 million in federal funding for cost-shared research and development for advanced nuclear technologies. Of that, $40 million will go to NuScale Power to further its commercialization of small modular reactor technology. (Earlier post.)

IMG_0378

These selections are the first under DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy’s US Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity announcement (FOA), and subsequent quarterly application review and selection processes will be conducted over the next five years. DOE intends to apply up to $40 million of additional FY 2018 funding to the next two quarterly award cycles for innovative proposals under this FOA.

This FOA covers three innovative funding pathways:

  • First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway, intended to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.

  • Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which allows a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.

  • Regulatory Assistance Grants, which provide direct support for resolving design regulatory issues, regulatory review of licensing topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals for advanced reactor designs and capabilities.

As part of DOE’s commitment to supporting US industry through private-public technical partnerships for nuclear energy innovation, the Department is also announcing technical voucher awards to US companies selected under the Department’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative.

The following two projects were selected under the FOAK Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project Pathway:

  • Phase 1 NuScale Small Modular Reactor FOAK Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project: NuScale Power. This project will conduct design finalization activities and ensure supply chain readiness to meet a commercial operation date of 2026 for the first NuScale plant.

    DOE Funding: $40,000,000; Non-DOE: $40,000,000; Total Value: $80,000,000

  • Design and License Application Development for TRISO-X: A Cross-Cutting, High Assay Low Enriched Uranium Fuel Fabrication Facility: X Energy, LLC. This project will develop the design and license application development for a fuel fabrication facility capable of handling high-assay, low-enriched uranium and production of US-developed uranium oxycarbide (UCO) TRistructural ISOtropic (TRISO) particle based fuel elements required for the future fleet of advanced reactors.

    DOE Funding: $4,494,444; Non-DOE: $4,494,444; Total Value: $8,988,888

The following four projects were selected under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway:

  • Combining Multi-Scale Modeling with Microcapsule Irradiation to Expedite Advanced Fuels Deployment: General Atomics. This work proposed by General Atomics aims to combine advances made in microstructurally-informed fuel performance modeling and simulation tools with a new microcapsule irradiation capability that can substantially reduce the schedule and cost burden associated with qualifying new fuel systems for commercial deployment.

    DOE Funding: $2,210,995; Non-DOE: $552,749; Total: $2,763,744

  • Modeling and Optimization of Flow and Heat Transfer in Reactor Components for Molten Chloride Salt Fast Reactor Application: Elysium Industries USA. This project will develop the computational fluid dynamics models needed to simulate and optimize the flows of chloride molten salt fuel in a reactor vessel and heat exchangers for their Molten Chloride Salt Fast Reactor design.

    DOE Funding: $2,560,000; Non-DOE: $640,000; Total Value: $3,200,000

  • Establishment of an integrated advanced manufacturing and data science driven paradigm for advanced reactor systems;BWXT Nuclear Energy. This project will develop the ability to implement Additive Materials Manufacturing to the fabrication process for nuclear components and sub-components that will yield acceptable material structure and strength that can be accepted by the national code organizations and the regulator.

    DOE Funding: $5,400,000; Non-DOE: $4,415,000; Total Value: $9,815,000

  • Dynamic Natural Convection - Passive Cooling for the LWR Fleet: NuVision Engineering. This project proposes an engineered solution to mitigate the effects of loss of power to light water-based nuclear reactors and to remove decay heat from the reactor core, mitigating losses due to random equipment failures and severe accidents.

    DOE Funding: $ 2,999,657; Non-DOE: $749,914; Total Value: $3,749,571

The following two projects were selected under the Regulatory Assistance Grant pathway:

  • Resolving the Regulatory Issues with Implementation of Online Monitoring Technologies to Extend the Calibration Intervals of Process Instruments in Nuclear Power Plants: Analysis and Measurement Services (AMS) Corporation. This project will work with nuclear industry stakeholders and the regulator to develop guidelines for extending calibration intervals of transmitters using online monitoring technology.

    DOE Funding: $499,906; Non-DOE: $125,000; Total Value: $624,906

  • Pre-Application License Review of Silicon Carbide Composite Clad Uranium Carbide Fuel for Long-Life Gas-Cooled Fast Reactor Cores: General Atomics. This project will engage the regulator to execute a pre-licensing review of a silicon carbide composite-clad uranium carbide fuel system for use in a gas-cooled fast reactor long-life core.

    DOE Funding: $380,655; Non-DOE: $95,164; Total Value: $475,819

DOE selected five US companies to receive GAIN technology development vouchers in this first review cycle. The companies selected and the DOE contribution to the cost-shared vouchers are Terrestrial Energy, USA ($500,000); Vega Wave Systems, Inc. ($130,000); Oklo, Inc. ($417,000); Urbix Resources, LLC ($320,000); and ThorCon US, Inc. ($400,000).

Comments

SJC

Replace old light water reactors with Fast, use up all the depleted uranium.

Nick Lyons

@SJC: I'm with you--much more productive use than anti-tank munitions. A fleet of fast reactors fueled with DU and spent LW reactor fuel could run for decades without putting a mining shovel in the ground.

sd

Nick, The number I have seen is 700 years worth of power at current total power usage from the DU only (I think that this number was from a NOVA PBS program).

Not only could we close down all the fossil fuel plants, we could also decommission the ugly wind turbines cluttering our landscape :>)/2 (only half in jest).

sd

I think that NuScale is close to starting construction of the initial commercial installation with 12 50 MW small modular reactors near Idaho Falls

http://www.localnews8.com/news/new-nuclear-power-plant-coming-to-idaho-falls-1/689598533

SJC

The U.S. has 700,000 tons of depleted uranium stored as uranium hexafluoride in rusting tanks. Might as well use it up to get rid of the waste.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DUF6_cylinder_leak.gif

HarveyD

Are factory mass produced smaller transportable nuke power units, the answer to huge cost increase in old-current-new units.

The latest French NPPs total cost is approaching $15B each including extras to fix failing parts and fixing bad assembly.

Higher quality and lower cost of factory built smaller units may be easier to achieve?

sd

HarveyD,

Those are the claims and I would tend to believe them. These units are also "walk away" safe. They do not need power for pumps, etc. for a safe shut down in the case of an emergency.

Nick Lyons

NuScale SMR innovates on existing PWR tech, hopefully making NPPs something we can build again.

Terrestrial Energy (SMR/MSR) promises all the benefits of NuScale with lower operating costs, higher efficiency, more flexibility (much higher heat for industrial uses).

I wish them both well--both could have pilot plants running in Idaho within the next decade.

Engineer-Poet

The entire point of the NuScale design is to make the reactor proper passively "walk-away" safe, so that the balance of system doesn't require the intensive and costly NRC certification demanded of current plants.  This is intended to reduce costs to something competitive.

Note that the major costs of nuclear energy are not inherent to the technology, they are imposed by legal fiat from Washington.  NuScale is trying to work within the system to get around that.  ThorCon has gone to Indonesia to get away from the NRC, period.  IIUC another entrant is building in Canada to take advantage of more liberal policies.  It remains to be seen which, if any, of these approaches will achieve commercial success.

HarveyD

Russia has built two small (350 megawatt) reactors on a barge to be towed for use as floating units in their far North.

Is that a similar solution?

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