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Dow and X-energy to deploy first advanced small modular nuclear reactor at industrial site

Dow and X-Energy Reactor Company entered into a joint development agreement (JDA) to demonstrate the first grid-scale advanced nuclear reactor for an industrial site in North America. (Earlier post.)

As a subawardee under the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) Cooperative Agreement with X-energy, Dow intends to work with X-energy to install the Xe-100 Gen-IV high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) plant at one of Dow’s US Gulf Coast sites, providing the site with safe, reliable, low-carbon power and steam within this decade.

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 reliable baseload power to an electricity system or support industrial applications with 200 MW thermal output per unit of high pressure, high temperature steam.

The JDA includes up to $50 million in engineering work, up to half of which is eligible to be funded through ARDP, and the other half by Dow. The JDA work scope also includes the preparation and submission of a Construction Permit application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The utilization of X-energy’s fourth generation nuclear technology will enable Dow to take a major step in reducing our carbon emissions while delivering lower carbon footprint products to our customers and society.

—Jim Fitterling, Dow chairman and CEO

Working with DOE and subject to its review and approval, Dow and X-energy expect to finalize site selection in 2023. The parties intend to perform further ARDP-related work under the JDA as the project progresses. Additionally, the companies have agreed to develop a framework jointly to license and utilize the technology and learnings from the project, which would enable other industrial customers to utilize Xe-100 industrial low carbon energy technology effectively.

Unlike existing light water and other small modular reactors, X-energy’s HTGR technology can also support broad industrial use applications through its high-temperature heat and steam output that can be integrated into and address the needs of both large and regional electricity and/or industrial manufacturing systems. The four-reactor Xe-100 nuclear plant will provide a Dow facility with cost-competitive, low carbon process heat and power to make essential products used by consumers and businesses every day.

X-energy’s innovative and simplified modular design is road-shippable and intended to drive scalability, accelerate construction timelines and create more predictable and manageable construction costs.

X-energy was selected by DOE in 2020 to receive up to $1.2 billion under the ARDP in federal cost-shared funding to develop, license, build, and demonstrate an operational advanced reactor and fuel fabrication facility by the end of the decade. Since that award, X-energy has completed the engineering and basic design of the nuclear reactor, advanced development of a fuel fabrication facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and is preparing to submit an application for licensure to the NRC.



In my opinion, this is the good news story of the day. I really hope that they can have this up an running by the end of the decade. If it is as successful as they predict, we could start building new reactors to produce both power and heat for cities. It could also be used for lower cost hydrogen production although the temperature is not quite high enough to run the sulfur-iodine cycle which does not require any electric power. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur%E2%80%93iodine_cycle

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