The US Department of Energy (DOE) selected two companies—X-energy and Southern Company—for a combined $12 million in awards ($6 million each) to develop further advanced nuclear reactor designs. These awards, with a multi-year cost share of up to $80 million for both companies, will support work to address key technical challenges to the design, construction, and operation of next-generation nuclear reactors.
X-energy—partnering with BWX Technology, Oregon State University, Teledyne-Brown Engineering, SGL Group, Idaho National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory—will solve design and fuel development challenges of the Xe-100 Pebble Bed Advanced Reactor. This type of reactor has next-generation design and the most advanced safety features and it is also smaller than traditional nuclear reactors. These factors would potentially enable such a reactor to serve a wider array of communities—particularly densely populated areas—while ensuring public safety.
Southern Company Services—partnering with TerraPower, Electric Power Research Institute, Vanderbilt University, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory—will perform integrated effects tests and materials suitability studies to support development of the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor. The MCFR is also a next-generation design with the most advanced safety features that enable its potential use across the country.
Nuclear power provides almost 20% of the electricity generated in the United States, and more than 60% of the nation’s carbon-free electricity. These awards provide an example of the public-private partnerships envisioned under the recently launched Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. Announced at the White House last fall, GAIN provides the nuclear energy community with access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to accelerate the commercialization of advanced nuclear energy systems.
Following a competitive process, DOE will fund cost-shared research and development activities with industry to support these two companies with performance-based advanced reactor concepts for further development in the areas of safety, operations, and economics.
The projects announced today will allow industry led teams, which include participants from universities and national laboratories, to further nuclear energy technology, and will enable companies to further develop their advanced reactor designs with potential for demonstration in the 2035 timeframe.