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DOE Awards $80M each to TerraPower, X-Energy for ARDP

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $160 million in
First Awards Under Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

nricThe U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today (10-/13/20)) announced it has selected two U.S.-based teams to receive $160 million in initial funding under the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). ARDP, announced in May, is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the United States.

DOE is awarding TerraPower LLC (Bellevue, WA) and X-energy (Rockville, MD) $80 million each in initial funding to build two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years.

The awards are cost-shared partnerships with industry that will deliver two first-of-a-kind advanced reactors to be licensed for commercial operations. The Department will invest a total of $3.2 billion over seven years, subject to the availability of future appropriations, with our industry partners providing matching funds.

“The awards are the first step of a new program that will strengthen American leadership in the next generation of nuclear technologies,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.

“These partnerships will help maximize DOE’s investment in advanced reactors, which play a vital role in our clean energy strategy.”

Update 10/14/20 - Additional details on the awards by DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal

Specifically, TerraPower will demonstrate the Natrium reactor, a sodium‐cooled fast reactor that leverages decades of development and design undertaken by TerraPower and its partner, GE‐Hitachi.

The high-operating temperature of the Natrium reactor, coupled with thermal energy storage, will allow the plant to provide flexible electricity output that complements variable renewable generation such as wind a solar. In addition, this project will establish a new metal fuel fabrication facility that is scaled to meet the needs of this demonstration program.

X-energy will deliver a commercial four-unit nuclear power plant based on its Xe-100 reactor design. The Xe-100 is a high temperature gas-cooled reactor that is ideally suited to provide flexible electricity output as well as process heat for a wide range of industrial heat applications, such as desalination and hydrogen production. The project will also deliver a commercial scale TRi-structural ISOtropic particle fuel (TRISO) fuel fabrication facility, leveraging DOE’s substantial investment in development of this highly robust fuel form.

Both projects incorporate a range of design features that will not only enhance safety, but make them affordable to construct and operate, paving the way for the United States to deploy highly competitive advanced reactors domestically and globally.

“DOE and U.S. industry are extremely well-equipped to develop and demonstrate nuclear reactors with the requisite sense of urgency, which is important not only to our economy, but to our environment, because nuclear energy is clean energy,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy.

Congress appropriated $160 million for the Fiscal Year 2020 budget as initial funding for these demonstration projects. Funding beyond the near-term is contingent on additional future appropriations, evaluations of satisfactory progress and DOE approval of continuation applications.

ARDP Has Three Phases – this is Phase 1

Applicants tot he ARDP can receive support through three different development and demonstration pathways:

  • Advanced reactor demonstrations, which are expected to result in a fully functional advanced nuclear reactor within 7 years of the award.
  • Risk reduction for future demonstrations, which will support up to five additional teams resolving technical, operational, and regulatory challenges to prepare for future demonstration opportunities.
  • Advanced reactor concepts 2020 (ARC 20), which will support innovative and diverse designs with potential to commercialize in the mid-2030s.

ADRP will leverage the National Reactor Innovation Center to efficiently test and assess ARD technologies by engaging the world-renowned capabilities of the national laboratory system to move these reactors from blueprints to reality. (Overview of NRIC – PDF file)

In addition, the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriation also provided initial year funding of $30 million for two to five Risk Reduction for Future Demonstrations projects and $20 million initial year funding for at least two Advanced Reactor Concepts-20 (ARC-20) projects. Awards for these projects are expected to be announced in December 2020.

More information on the Office of Nuclear Energy and its programs can be found here.

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Discussions

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 14, 2020

Both projects incorporate a range of design features that will not only enhance safety, but make them affordable to construct and operate, paving the way for the United States to deploy highly competitive advanced reactors domestically and globally.

Would you say these technologies are going to break new ground globally or are they more to allow us to catch up to some areas where other nations have taken a lead in? 

Dan Yurman's picture
Dan Yurman on Oct 14, 2020

TerraPower's design is unique and will break new ground globally. X-Energy's HTGR is based on the pebble bed design work done in South Africa. Indeed, some of the principals from that project now work for X-Energy.  In this regard, the HTGR design is more well known, but it has its own unique technical challenges.

Dan Yurman's picture

Thank Dan for the Post!

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