The Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) is a sodium fast-reactor design, where fast neutrons are produced at high concentrations, allowing researchers to perform accelerated and more diverse tests and experiments currently not possible with the U.S. Department of Energy's other reactors; and when you test fission with high-energy neutrons, it takes nuclear technology from “propellors” into the possibility of “jet engines.”
Essentially, VTR is an instruction platform that will help new advanced reactor vendors:
•             Experiment with and qualify different types of reactor fuels.
•             Explore and advance structural materials.
•             Test and innovate components, instruments and tools.
This ability gives researchers and developers the empirical data they need to approach the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and say, “I want to build my technology, and here’s proof that I understand the material behavior.” Because, in the end, safety is not dependent on fancy gadgets or artificial intelligence, it’s more about fundamentally understanding physics and how materials behave.
VTR is proposed to be sited at either Idaho National Laboratory or Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Having this one-of-a-kind facility on American soil will also play a critical role in reestablishing the United States as a nuclear industry leader.