DOE awards $8.5M to Next-Gen Nuclear Demonstration Projects

Nov. 18, 2021
The work will inform the future deployment of advanced reactors on islands or for the potential use in maritime applications

The prospect of small nuclear and microreactor projects in Puerto Rico and across the U.S. has gained $8.5 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

DOE announced Thursday it was awarding the funding to a variety of small and next-gen nuclear technology projects. The work will inform the future deployment of advanced reactors on islands or for the potential use in maritime applications.

“Advanced reactors will completely change the way we engineer, build, and operate nuclear reactors,” said Kathryn Huff, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy. “These awards support technical and regulatory strides necessary for commercializing new carbon-free nuclear technologies poised to help our nation reach net-zero emissions by 2050.” 

The projects include $1.62 million for a site suitability study for small modular reactors and microreactors in Puerto Rico. The Nuclear Alternative Project in Sugar Land, Texas will evaluate sites possible for the SMR or micro technologies for use in microgrids and to support resource adequacy.

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DOE is allocating nearly $3 million for work that Terrestrial Energy USA is doing to develop an approach to handling uncertainty in the modeling the off-gas systems of molten salt reactors. Earlier this week, utility Southern Co. said it would design startup TerraPower’s advanced molten chloride fast reactor at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Other awards in the DOE small nuclear funding include work to accelerating demonstration of the commercial potential of advanced nuclear for maritime applications.

The Idaho National Lab earlier this week released a report noting the potential of small nuclear in net-zero microgrid projects. No SMR has been built in the U.S. yet, but companies like NuScale Power and TerraPower are moving closer to demonstration projects.