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DOE awards $160 million under Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (KIFI/KIDK) – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Tuesday it has selected two U.S.-based teams to receive $160 million in initial funding under the new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. The initial funding is aimed at building two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years.

TerraPower, a Washington based corporation, was awarded $80 million to 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.

$80 million was also awarded to X-energy, a corporation based in Rockville, MD, to 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.

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

The awards are cost-shared partnerships that will deliver two first-of-a-kind advanced reactors to be licensed for commercial operations. The DOE 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.

DOE officials say both projects will 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 approval.

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.

“INL supports both finalists, as well as the other applicants who will be considered for DOE's advanced reactor risk reduction and ARC 20 awards in the next phase of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Project,” Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters said.

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Bre Clark

Bre is an anchor for Local News 8 and KIDK Eyewitness News 3.

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