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ARPA-E to issue FOAs for advanced modular nuclear reactors, ultra-high efficient hybrid systems for gas-to-electricity

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) will issue two new funding opportunities (FOAs): one to support R&D on advanced nuclear reactor technologies, the other for the development of hybrid fuel cell and engine systems for the ultra-high efficiency conversion of natural gas to electricity.

Advanced Modular Reactors. ARPA-E is planning a new R&D program seeking innovative designs of advanced nuclear power plants and computational validations of these designs that can achieve safe, secure, and economical power production.

The envisioned program seeks transformative designs and manufacturing technologies to achieve semi-autonomous “walk-away safe” and secure operation; extremely low construction capital costs; and dramatically faster construction and commissioning times based on technologies such as modular assemblies and factory manufacturing.

The program seeks cross-disciplinary teams of innovators from the nuclear community and other scientific and engineering disciplines to instill new, creative approaches in solving fundamental challenges in nuclear power plant design, construction, and operation. Success in this program will establish a set of high-fidelity designs of new advanced nuclear reactors and set a path for the US to lead the world in “Gen IV and beyond” nuclear power technologies.

Hybrid Systems For Ultra-High Efficiency Conversion Of Natural Gas To Electricity. The objective of this FOA will be to encourage the development of commercial-scale (>100 kW) Distributed Generation (DG) systems that have fuel to electric power conversion efficiencies in excess of 70% on a Lower Heating Value (LHV) basis. ARPA-E anticipates that the deadline for submission of Concept Papers to this FOA will occur 30 days after its issuance.

The long-term goal of the program will be to reduce the cost and increase the primary energy efficiency associated with the provision of electric power to commercial and industrial customers. The achievement of the aggressive efficiency (>70%) and installed cost (<$1800/kW) goals required to enable a targeted >1 Quad/year of fuel energy savings will require the development of new component technologies and systems approaches for the integration of fuel cells with heat or reactive engines.

The primary focus of the FOA will be the development of enabling component and sub-system technologies pertinent to the fuel cell or the engine or both of the sub-systems. Such technologies may include (but are not limited to) novel fuel cell stack designs, cost-effective and high efficiency engine/turbine component designs, highly integrated balance of plant designs, and demonstrations of system controls. If the development of these technologies proceeds at the desired rate, ARPA-E may also continue support through full-scale (≥ 100 kW) hybrid system development.


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