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INL microreactor project out for comment

MARVEL microreactor conceptual design
MARVEL microreactor conceptual design

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI)-UPDATE: The U.S. Department of Energy has extended the public review and comment period for the MARVEL project through February 9, 2021.

ORIGINAL STORY: The U.S. Department of Energy has released a draft environmental impact assessment for the proposed Microreactor Applications Research Validation and EvaLuation (MARVEL) project. The project proposes to build a microreactor inside the Idaho National Laboratory’s Transient Reactor Test Facility.

According to DOE, the MARVEL design is a sodium-potassium-cooled, thermal microreactor with a power level of less than 100 kilowatts of electricity.  It would used high-assay, low-enriched uranium as a fuel. They use fission to produce energy with no carbon emissions.

“Nuclear energy has always been a reliable power source that doesn’t emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said Idaho National Laboratory Director John Wagner. “MARVEL takes the next step. It will provide for prompt, small-scale demonstrations of several environmentally friendly technologies associated with advanced microreactors as well as larger reactors, which will benefit the nuclear energy industry and end-users.” 

MARVEL will test power applications to complement intermittent renewable energy sources like wind and solar. It will also test the use of nuclear energy for water purification, hydrogen production, and heat for chemical processing.  It will also give industry partners a new way to test new microreactor technologies.

DOE said international interest is growing in microreactors as a small, factory fabricated, transportable reactor that could be used in remote communities, industrial sites, and defense bases. 

INL is planning to develop MARVEL to perform research and development on various operational features.  It will accelerate the development of commercial microreactors to provide essential electricity. 

The draft environmental assessment is available here.

The 14-day public comment period ends January 26, 2021.

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