DOE Funds Advanced Pebble-Bed and Molten-Salt Nuclear Reactor Development
It’s been a good year so far for advanced nuclear reactors.
Last week, small modular reactor startup Terrestrial Energy closed $8 million in funding for its proprietary Integral Molten Salt Reactor design. These advanced small nuclear reactors are intended for industrial process heat applications, with market deployment targeted “in the 2020s.” The molten salt reactor is an advanced design in which the nuclear fuel is dissolved in the coolant itself, typically a molten fluoride salt mixture. MSRs can run at higher temperatures and higher efficiencies than water-cooled reactors.
Earlier this week, a bipartisan bill won approval by the U.S. House of Representative’s Committee on Science, Space and Technology to drive R&D funding for nuclear power in the U.S. According to The Hill, “The bill directs the Department of Energy to prioritize nuclear energy research that utilizes private sector funding.” The legislation encourages private firms to partner with the national labs to study nuclear reactor technology, and calls for the DOE to “complete a research reactor within the next 10 years.”
And this morning, the DOE announced the selection of two companies, X-energy and Southern Company, “to further develop advanced nuclear reactor designs.” These awards originate from the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program.
DOE’s initial funding will be $6 million for each project, with both firms providing cost-share. The potential “multi-year cost-share value for this research is up to $80 million,” and it is aiming for a demonstration project in about 20 years, according to the DOE.