GE Hitachi Tapped for Design Work on Advanced Test Reactor

prismThe Idaho National Laboratory has awarded a subcontract to GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy to support the conceptual design, cost/schedule estimate and safety framework activities for a proposed fast spectrum Versatile Test Reactor (VTR).

The test reactor will be a critical facility for the development of innovative nuclear fuels, materials, instrumentation and sensors.

The subcontract is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy’s Versatile Test Reactor program, which is investigating what it would take to establish a reactor-based fast-spectrum neutron irradiation capability in the United States by 2026.

Within the INL-led VTR team, engineers from GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy will adapt the company’s PRISM sodium-cooled nuclear reactor design to the needs of a test reactor for state-of-the art research and development purposes.

“To meet our aggressive schedule for establishing this much-needed capability in the United States, it is necessary to leverage an existing and mature sodium-cooled fast reactor design that can be modified to meet the needs of a versatile test reactor,” said INL’s Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, the executive director of VTR.

“Having a timely and detailed conceptual design is critical to generating an accurate cost and schedule estimate, which will then be key to DOE’s decision on whether to move forward in 2020.”

vtr logo

Bechtel will also support the project using its expertise in project management for cost, schedule, and related management systems.

Establishing a fast spectrum test reactor ensures continued U.S. technology leadership in nuclear energy innovation. Currently, only a few capabilities are available for testing fast neutron reactor technology in the world and none in the U.S.

DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy established the VTR program earlier this year in response to reports outlining the need for a fast spectrum test reactor, including one issued by the agency’s Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee (NEAC) in 2017.

In that report, NEAC recommended “that DOE-NE proceed immediately with preconceptual design planning activities to support a new test reactor (including cost and schedule estimates).”

The recommendation, in part, was based on responses from U.S. companies developing advanced reactors, many of which require different testing facilities than the commercial nuclear power technology in use today.

Also recently, Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (S.97) highlighted the need for a reactor-based fast neutron source authorizing DOE to proceed with the relevant activities.

INL is one of the U.S. DOE’s national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation’s leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

Prior coverage of GEH PRISM on this blog

Integral Fast Reactor to Live Again at Point Lepreau, NB – link 
NRC License to be Sought for GEH PRISM Advanced Reactor – link
Southern Signs-on for Prism Advanced Reactor – link

Idaho National Laboratory Names
Science and Technology Director


Marianne Walck, Ph.D.

Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters has announced Dr. Marianne Walck will become the laboratory’s new director for Science and Technology. Walck will also serve as chief research officer beginning January 7, 2019.

“I am excited to have Marianne join the Laboratory to provide strategic leadership, direction, and integration for research, science, and technology at INL,” said Peters.

Walck was vice president of Sandia’s California laboratory and served as lead for Sandia’s Energy and Climate Program and has over 25 years of DOE National Laboratory leadership experience.

In California, she was responsible for principal programs, including nuclear weapons stewardship.  Her work with Homeland Security focused on defending against weapons of mass destruction, combustion, transportation, and hydrogen energy research.

Sandia’s Energy and Climate Program includes a variety of technology programs including renewable energy systems, energy infrastructure, climate and engineered systems, fossil energy, nuclear and fuel cycle and transportation energy systems.

Walck received a master’s and a doctorate in geophysics from the California Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree in geology/physics from Hope College.

She holds memberships in the American Geophysical Union, the Seismological Society of America, the Association for Women Geoscientists, the American Nuclear Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

She serves on several advisory boards for universities and technical institutes including the Texas A&M Energy Institute, and is a Senior Fellow of the California Council of Science and Technology.

DOE Awards $18 Million For
Advanced Nuclear Technology Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced 11/13/18 funding selections for eleven domestic advanced nuclear technology projects. These projects, located across six states, will receive awards totaling $18 million in funding, with project values totaling approximately $25 million.

The projects are cost-shared and will allow industry-led teams, including participants from federal agencies, public and private laboratories, institutions of higher education, and other domestic entities, to advance the state of U.S. commercial nuclear capability.

The awards are through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s (NE) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development.

The solicitation is broken into three funding pathways:

First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway, intended to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.

Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which allows a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.

Regulatory Assistance Grants pathway, which provide direct support for resolving design regulatory issues, regulatory review of licensing topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals for advanced reactor designs and capabilities.

&  The following project was selected under the FOAK Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway:

Integral and Separate Effects Test Program for the Investigation and Validation of Passive Safety System Performance of SMRs – Phase 1 Only – SMR, LLC (Camden, NJ) will develop a uniquely configurable set of testing platforms to demonstrate small modular reactor (SMR) passive safety system performance, accelerate the SMR-160 and other SMR designs to market, and help license these designs with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and international regulators.
DOE Funding: $1,624,729; Non-DOE: $1,624,729; Total Value: $3,249,458

&  The following four projects were selected under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway:

Development of Cable Aging Acceptance Criteria for Nuclear Facilities – This work proposed by Analysis and Measurement Services Corporation (Knoxville, TN) aims to develop acceptance criteria for mechanical, electrical, thermal, and chemical condition monitoring tests that trend with age-related degradation of electrical cables.
DOE Funding: $2,812,547; Non-DOE: $703,137; Total: $3,515,684

Modeling and Analysis of Exelon Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) for Eigenvalue & Thermal Limits Predictability – Under this proposal, Exelon Generation (Kennett Square, PA) will provide a deeper understanding of BWR core behavior (including Exelon’s 15 BWRs) using the reactor modeling tool Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA). This will lead to improved core performance predictions for BWRs including reactivity and thermal margins, which has a direct, positive economic impact in terms of cycle energy production and fuel costs.
DOE Funding: $5,000,000; Non-DOE: $1,740,000; Total Value: $6,740,000

Establishing Modular In-Chamber Electron Beam Welding – The Electric Power Research Institute (Palo Alto, CA) will demonstrate the capability to produce large, thick-section components to support nuclear production in the United States via Modular In-Chamber Electron Beam Welding.
DOE Funding: $2,925,057; Non-DOE: $731,265; Total Value: $3,656,322

Integrated Risk-Informed Condition Based Maintenance Capability and Automated Platform – A team comprised of Public Services Enterprise & Group (PSE&G) Nuclear, LLC, Idaho National Laboratory, and Rolls-Royce North America (Moon Township, PA) will develop and perform pilot implementation of a fully integrated risk-informed condition based maintenance capability, on an automated platform.  The key outcome of this project, when implemented, is significantly reduced O&M costs associated with time-based maintenance, across the U.S. nuclear fleet.
DOE Funding: $3,567,190; Non-DOE: $891,798; Total Value: $4,458,988

&  The following project was selected under the Regulatory Assistance Grant pathway:

TEUSA-USNRC Pre-Licensing Activities for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR®) – Terrestrial Energy USA (New York, NY) will conduct pre-application interactions with the US NRC to advance the progress of licensing the IMSR®.
DOE Funding: $499,232; Non-DOE: $124,808; Total Value: $624,040

Technology Vouchers

DOE has selected five companies to receive technology development vouchers under the GAIN program. The companies selected are;

  • Westinghouse Electric Company (Cranberry Township, PA) in the amount of $420,000;
  • Elysium Industries (Clifton Park, NY) in the amount of $500,000;
  • NexDefense (Atlanta, GA) in the amount of $400,000;
  • Exelon Generation (Kennett Square, PA) in the amount of $480,000; and
  • Eastman Chemical Company (Kingsport, TN) in the amount of $350,000.

& & &

“Nuclear energy plays an increasingly important role in reaching our country’s clean energy and economic goals,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

“These awards are prime examples of the private-public partnerships needed to help successfully develop and deploy innovative domestic nuclear technologies.”

This is the third round of funding through this FOA. The first group was announced on April 27 and the second group was announced on July 10. The total of the three rounds of awards is approximately $98 million.

The awards also include vouchers through the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative. Subsequent quarterly application review and selection processes will be conducted over the next four years.

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