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Dow to work with X-energy to deploy SMR for one of Dow’s Gulf Coast sites

Dow, a leading global materials science company, and X-energy, a nuclear energy innovation company, signed a letter of intent which will help Dow advance its carbon emissions reduction goals through the development and deployment of X-energy's advanced small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) technology in the US.

Dow and X-energy will collaborate with the intent to deploy X-energy’s Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor technology at one of Dow’s US Gulf Coast sites—which is expected to be operational by approximately 2030. The Xe-100 reactor plant would provide cost-competitive, carbon-free process heat and power to the Dow facility. Dow also intends to take a minority equity stake in X-energy, working with the company to deploy small modular nuclear technology.

Advanced small modular nuclear technology is going to be a critical tool for Dow’s path to zero-carbon emissions and our ability to drive growth by delivering low-carbon products to our customers. X-energy’s technology is among the most advanced, and when deployed will deliver safe, reliable, low-carbon power and steam. This is a great opportunity for Dow to lead our industry in carbon neutral manufacturing by deploying next-generation nuclear energy.

—Jim Fitterling, Dow chairman and CEO

X-energy’s Xe-100 is a Generation IV, high-temperature gas-cooled reactor built on decades of research, development and operating experience. Each reactor is engineered to operate as a single 80 MW electric unit and is optimized as a four-unit plant delivering 320 MW electric.

The Xe-100 is fueled with 220,000 graphite pebbles with TRISO (tri-structural isotropic) particle fuel. X-energy manufactures its own proprietary version (TRISO-X) to ensure supply and quality control. Built with a high-temperature-tolerant graphite core structure, the Xe-100 is designed for a 60-year operational life.


The reactor can provide clean, reliable and safe baseload power to an electricity system or support industrial applications with 200 MW thermal output per unit of high pressure, high temperature steam.

The United States Department of Energy has recognized that advanced small modular nuclear reactor technology is a key part of the Department’s goal to develop safe, clean and affordable nuclear power options. In 2020, X-energy was selected by the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to deliver a four-unit Xe-100 plant in Washington state, which will make it among the first operational grid-scale advanced reactor plants in North America.

Small modular nuclear represents a key technology to enable energy-intensive industries to decarbonize. This announcement marks an additional step in Dow’s efforts to deliver 30% reduction in scope 1 and 2 carbon emissions since 2005 by 2030, on its path to achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. In 2021, Dow announced plans to build the world’s first net-zero (scope 1 and 2 emissions) carbon emissions integrated ethylene cracker and derivatives site in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta.

It also builds on Dow's efforts to continue transitioning its sites and operations globally to cleaner power. Last year, the Company expanded its access to renewable power to more than 900 MW and obtained more than 25% of its purchased electricity from renewable sources. Today, Dow is among the top 20 users of clean energy among global corporations.



Not one of my favorite designs for SNRs, on the face of it, although of course that is far from an expert opinion.

The obvious question is:

What happens if a pebble gets stuck?

No doubt that is way more improbable etc than it sounds, but I am a fan of the very, very inherently safe molten salt designs.


I do not know which version of an SMR is best. We need a winning design that can be modular and be built in a factory . This should be our new version of WWII liberty ships. Find the right design and use the defense authority to mandate that 10 a year are put into service until all coal plants are gone!


Keep the TRISO pebbles, replace Helium with molten salt.


I have not come across the kairopower design before, as I have not looked into SMRs much for some years, with the exception of the Chinese PBR, which is kinda medium sized and has been built, and Nuscale, which also seems fairly near deployment.

The Nuscale design seems 'good enough' to me, and if folk panic about waste, I would like to offer my back garden, where I would be quite happy to see it buried.

Sensible criticism has centered around construction costs, but the modular design and passive safety offers a good opportunity to take costs out IMO, although of course that depends on nutters not managing to get their hand on enough levers to make progress impossible, as the NRC has done for decades.

It turned out that the guy who was running it has now come out as totally opposed to nuclear anyway, something he did not have the honesty to admit whilst he was directing its regulation,

Global warming would like to thank you, Jaczko, for all you have done to enable it.

Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of casualties per year from enabling coal plants as the normal source of power, instead of moving to nuclear.


Jaczko, Markey and Obama have a lot to answer for.


Hi EP.

I'd just like to add that the levelised costs purporting to show SNRs as still uneconomic relative to renewables have a major omission in my view.

So long as it is fairly close to where it is needed, then the correct metric is often electrical plus thermal output and efficiencies.

For my own country, the UK, whose figures I am naturally most familiar with this means that SNRs can be sited close in to major users of power, both industrial and residential, with no need to transmit much of it long distance, with district heating schemes being the way to go.

The realistic alternative for the UK is floating wind turbines, as we have magnificent wind resources and lousy solar.

But that means transporting the power long distances, probably as hydrogen, with consequent energy losses, although at point of use fuel cells can use the hydrogen for heat for hot water as well as power.

On a like for like basis though, and taking optimistic views of the cost of floating wind turbines, I think that once thermal as well as electrical power is taken into account, local nuclear wins by quite a margin.

The levelized cost figures we are typically offered do not account for that.

Fortunately in the UK at least we intend to deploy Nuscale's excellent design.

I am generally imagined here to be a fan of hydrogen, and that is the case, but only where it makes sense.

It seems unlikely though that building vast arrays of floating wind turbines hundreds of miles out to sea and transporting that energy to where it is needed as hydrogen is going to beat small nuclear right where it is needed, providing safety is adequate.

And it is.


Even your wind resources aren't reliable.  Euan Mearns posted an example of a "wind drought" which hit the entire UK during a heat wave (summer anticyclone) and lasted something like a couple of weeks.  It's a few years old now but if you search his site you can probably find it.  Rod Adams noted something very similar which hit the BPA service area here:



Summer is not so much of an issue, as wind is typically low then, and so the system does not rely too much on it, and the massive roll outs of solar in Europe should cover it.

We did have a similar two week event in Europe in winter, a couple of years back, which had a major impact, and turbines in the UK were actually energy negative, as power had to be fed to them to stop them icing up!

That is when wind is typically strongest and most reliable, so that in winter here in the UK it can often provide more than 100% of our power needs, so not having it for a couple of weeks is a real issue.

I enjoy this facility, which provides hourly updates on demand on the UK national grid, and where it comes from:

Looking at it now it is showing 30GW demand, and only 0.55GW of that coming from wind!

Solar is kicking in a respectable 8GW, and with the rise of agrivoltaics reducing or eliminating land use concerns, even in northerly Britain I can see that rising to cover most daytime energy use, which doesn't help much at night, of course, but being northerly long days mean that morning and evening peaks are covered much better than in, say, Los Angeles.

In the winter the situation is reversed, and the contribution of wind is (normally) massive.

Not really a major problem for the systems in contemplation, as they make heavy use of hydrogen to collect and transport energy, so you have inherent storage, unlike the unbuffered systems we had at the time. and have now.

But it will, in my view, still cost a shed load more than siting nuclear where it is needed.


PS, completely different situation to in the US, where heavy use of air conditioning makes power draw much higher than in the winter.

In the UK, from 30GW or so in the summer, demand rises to ~60GW in winter, when wind is strongest, but supply interruptions are therefore more difficult to manage.


Looking at the charts on my link, at the yearly figures, I have learn something.

It seems that I was confusing winter peak demand with average, and most of the time we use way less than the 60GW I erroneously gave


The USA used almost 470 GW average last year.

Just how that is seasonally distributed varies widely based on geography.  New England demand peaks in winter; Sunbelt is dominated by A/C load and peaks in summer.  My own electric consumption is driven by the need to run fans to deal with summer heat, but total energy is dominated by natural gas for heat, cooking and hot water.

I could run everything off nuclear electricity and heat-pump driven space heat and DHW fed from warm condenser water.  Zero emissions, zero carbon.


I can't easily spot my reference on the EIA website, but I remember being considerably surprised to find that summer usage was as high or higher than winter usage in the US, even at northerly latitudes.

Trying to dig out my references again has meant that I had to try to spell Massachusetts, which is rather cruel for a non resident.

In any case, high use of air conditioning means that in the US in contrast to Europe summer peak load is substantial everywhere.

I would certainly like to see a build out of nuclear in the US, but it is far less imperative than in Europe, as the US does have realistic alternatives, far more so than Europe, and in particular Germany.

Rooftop solar with the thermal heat utilized for hot water, and agrivoltaics mean that solar can be produced throughout the US locally to where it is needed.

Low residential housing densities mean that it is far more expensive to provide district heating in the US than in, say, the UK, so siting nuclear reasonably close to cities and using excess heat to warm water for houses is less cost effective.

Of course, the arguments for dedicated nuclear for industrial use, right on site, remains, and nuclear is many times more economic per KWh of power in material usage than solar or wind.

Compared to Europe or China, it is more difficult to make the case for extensive deployment of nuclear in the US, in my view, given the cost of solar and the huge onshore wind resources in the central plains.

But closing nuclear reactors for the sake of it, as in California, remains straight out nuts, of course!


At last! Movement in the US nuclear industry!

' A major economic bill headed to the president has "game-changing" incentives for the nuclear energy industry, experts say, and those tax credits are even more substantial if a facility is sited in a community where a coal plant is closing.

The transformative bill provides the most spending to fight climate change by any one nation ever in a single push. Among the many things it could do nuclear energy experts say is spur more projects like one Bill Gates is planning in Kemmerer, Wyoming. Gates' company, TerraPower, plans to build an advanced, nontraditional nuclear reactor and employ workers from a local coal-fired power plant scheduled to close soon.'


' The incentives are a game changer for the nuclear energy industry, said Jacopo Buongiorno, professor of nuclear science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Buongiorno has studied the future of nuclear energy in a carbon-constrained world.

"This is really substantial," he said as he read the list of tax credits. "This should move the needle in terms of making these technologies economically viable right off the bat."

Buongiorno liked that the credits are available to many carbon-free technologies.

"It's not just nuclear, it's not just solar, it's all of the above, which is what we have been preaching as the right approach for decarbonization," he said. "You need to sort of push everybody here."'


Hey EP,

Now we might actually get something built, what is your take on the various SNR designs?

I was for years a fan of molten salt, but it must be borne in mind that I don't have technical chops, and apparently there remain considerable issues with corrosion.

I don't think you will disagree that Nuscale is 'good enough', but I would value your assessment and picks out of the ones relatively close to build.


I'm not following anything closely enough to pick favorites.  I like Moltex and Elysium because they'd take care of our "high-level waste" issue, but I can't rate their prospects.


Cheers EP

Interesting tech to deal with the high level 'waste' 'problem'

I dug around a bit to check progress.

' Elysium is designing a 10 MW thermal non-power demonstration unit. In 2022, we look forward to pursuing pre-licensing with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and furthering our siting efforts to support operation in 2028.'
And for actual production:

' Moltex Energy plans to build the first 300 MW SSR-W and WATSS facility in Saint John, New Brunswick by the early 2030s.'


For comparison, here is Nuscale:

(25 April 2022)

' Doosan Enerbility is to begin manufacturing main equipment for NuScale small modular reactors (SMRs), under a newly signed agreement which marks a milestone for the production of the NuScale Power Module.'

And more on the milestones they have hit here:

(perhaps they will update this winter?)

Design validated/approved by regulator
Approved fuel and infrastructure
Facilities to demonstrate technology
Manufacturing trials of materials
Unlimited coping period

For deployment, an SMR technology design needs to be approved by a regulator, an intensive process that can span multiple years. NuScale is the first and is the only SMR design to undergo design certification review by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission with design approval given in August 2020. This approval signaled that our technology is not only safe, but much farther along in terms of design and program development.'


Well, then, maybe Elysiums can consume the fuel coming out of the NuScales after dealing with the fuel stored at decommissioned sites, and Moltex can do the same for post-use CANDU fuel and whatever thermal-spectrum SMRs get built in Canada.



Yeah, not being first out the gate is not the end of the world, the important thing is that we have now got past the NRC's 'Just say no' policy .

See on today's (16th Aug) news where I am trying to work out what is going on with Terrapower.

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