DOE selects advanced reactor concepts for funding

23 December 2020

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced USD20 million in awards for the third of three programmes under its new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy has selected three teams to receive FY2020 funding for the ARDP's Advanced Reactor Concepts-20 (ARC-20) programme.

(Image: DOE)

DOE expects to invest about USD600 million over the next seven years in ARDP, which aims to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the USA.

The department issued an ARDP funding opportunity announcement in May this year, which included the ARC-20 awards, the Advanced Reactor Demonstration awards, and the Risk Reduction for Future Demonstration awards. For the ARC-20 projects, DOE expects to invest a total of about USD56 million over four years with its industry partners providing at least 20% in matching funds. The goal of the ARC-20 programme is to assist the progression of advanced reactor designs in their earliest phases.

DOE yesterday announced the selection of three US-based teams to receive ARC-20 funding. These are:

  • Inherently Safe Advanced SMR for American Nuclear Leadership. Advanced Reactor Concepts will deliver a conceptual design of a seismically isolated advanced sodium-cooled reactor facility that builds upon the initial pre-conceptual design of a 100 MWe reactor facility. The total award value over three-and-a-half years is USD34.4 million, with the DOE's share being USD27.5 million.
  • Fast Modular Reactor Conceptual Design. General Atomics will develop a fast modular reactor conceptual design with verifications of key metrics in fuel, safety and operational performance. The design will be for a 50 MWe fast modular reactor. Total award value over three years is USD31.1 million (DOE share is USD24.8 million).
  • Horizontal Compact High Temperature Gas Reactor. Massachusetts Institute of Technology will mature the Modular Integrated Gas-Cooled High-Temperature Reactor (MIGHTR) concept from a pre-conceptual stage to a conceptual stage to support commercialisation. The total award value over three years is USD4.9 million (DOE cost share is USD3.9 million).

"ARDP is significant because it will enable a market for commercial reactors that are safe and affordable to both construct and operate in the near- and mid-term," said Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette. "All three programmes under ARDP pave the way for the United States to be highly competitive globally."

On 16 December, DOE selected five teams to receive USD30 million in initial funding for risk reduction projects under its ARDP programme. All five of the selected designs have the potential to compete globally once deployed, DOE said. The five projects are: the BWXT Advanced Nuclear Reactor; Westinghouse's eVinci Microreactor; Kairos Power's Hermes Reduced-Scale Test Reactor; the Holtec SMR-160 light-water small modular reactor; and the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment, a project led by Southern Company Services Inc.

Two projects led by TerraPower and X-energy were selected in October to receive USD160 million in initial funding for under the DOE's Demonstration projects pathway to develop and construct two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years.

"Funding for ARDP beyond the near term is contingent on additional future appropriations, evaluations of satisfactory progress, and DOE approval of continuation applications," DOE noted.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News