DOE Kicks Off Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program

Cost sharing with industry is a key element of the $230M program

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week the launch of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) within the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE). ARDP is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the United States.  (Fact Sheet)

adv reactor marix

For the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, Congress appropriated $230 million to start a new demonstration program for advanced reactors. Through cost-shared partnerships with industry, ARDP will provide $160 million for initial funding that will eventually lead to full funding to build two reactors that can be operational within the next five to seven years.  (Fact Sheet) The actual cost of building the reactors is yet to be determined and will be higher than commercial units due to the first of a kind nature of the technology for each of them as demonstration projects.

reactor sizes

Top-Level Support for the Program

The funding announcement got a high level send off with a statement from the top.

“The next generation of nuclear energy is critical to our Nation’s energy security and environmental stewardship,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.

“We must pursue technological innovation and advanced nuclear RD&D investments to strengthen American leadership in the next generation of nuclear technologies, ensuring a healthy and growing U.S. nuclear energy sector.”

“Advanced nuclear energy systems hold enormous potential to lower emissions, create new jobs, and build a strong economy,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy.

“The U.S. Department of Energy’s national laboratory system was created to solve national challenges,” said INL Lab Director Mark Peters.

“Today’s announcement by U.S. DOE will accelerate innovation in advanced nuclear energy systems by leveraging the tremendous capabilities and expertise at INL and our partner national laboratories.”

Role of the National Reactor Innovation Center

In addition to the two reactors, ARDP will leverage the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) (Fact Sheet) to efficiently test and assess ARD technologies by engaging the world-renowned capabilities of the national laboratory system to move these reactors from blueprints to reality.


Funding Opportunity Announcement

The primary implementing tool for ARDP is the ARD Funding Opportunity Announcement, issued 5/14/20, which provides applicants three separate technology development and demonstration pathways. One size does not fit all.

ARDP will provide $160 million in initial funding. Applicants can receive support through three different development and demonstration pathways.

  • Advanced reactor demonstrations, which are expected to result in a fully functional advanced nuclear reactor within seven years of the award.
  • Risk reduction for future demonstrations, which will support up to five additional teams resolving technical, operational, and regulatory challenges to prepare for future demonstration opportunities.
  • Advanced reactor concepts 2020 (ARC 20), which will support innovative and diverse designs with potential to commercialize in the mid-2030s.

ad reactor pipeline

Assistant secretary for the office of nuclear energy Rita Baranwal said during a webinar on 5/14/20 the DOE has been “moving very quickly” to execute the new program.

Applications for funding opened on 5/14/20 for 90 days (closes 8/12/20) and there will be a “virtual industry day” in June for applicants to get further details. Funding awards will be made at end of calendar year.

More Information from NRIC

The National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC) enables advanced reactor demonstration and deployment by preparing infrastructure and providing access to National Laboratory sites, facilities, materials, and expertise.

NRIC has prepared a standard memorandum of understanding (MOU) for use with innovators seeking to work with NRIC. For a copy of the MOU or for more information on how to work with NRIC, please email

ARPA-E Awards $27M to Nine Firms

The US Department of Energy announced $27 million in funding for nine projects as part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) Generating Electricity Managed by Intelligent Nuclear Assets (GEMINA) program.( Complete list of projects – PDF file)

GEMINA’s goal is to reduce fixed operations and maintenance (O&M) costs from ~13 $/MWh in the current fleet to ~2 $/MWh in the advanced fleet. These projects will work to develop digital twin technology to reduce O&M costs in the next generation of nuclear power plants.

GEMINA teams will develop digital twins and associated technologies for advanced nuclear reactors to strategically design O&M frameworks for the next generation of nuclear power plants. These teams are designing tools to introduce greater flexibility in reactor systems, increase autonomy in operations, and speed up design iteration, with a goal of reducing costs at advanced reactor power plants.

Rita Baranwal / ‘Nuclear Has To Be Part of Portfolio
If CO2 Emissions Are To Be Reduced

(NucNet) DOE official says ‘now is the time to brag about reactor technology’

Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Energy

Nuclear power has to be a part of a country’s energy portfolio if carbon dioxide emissions are to be reduced and climate goals met, US assistant secretary for the office of nuclear energy Rita Baranwal told a webinar 5/14/20.

Ms Baranwal told the webinar, arranged and hosted by the Nuclear Energy Agency, that advances in engineering, robotics and computing are opening “a world of different avenues” the nuclear industry can exploit to improve the technology it offers.

“Nuclear is and has always been emissions-free and now is time to brag about that,” Ms Baranwal said.

“Fifty-five percent of the US’s clean energy comes from nuclear, but nuclear plants are only generating 20% of electricity. That’s a really big pay-off. For countries that want to decarbonise we have a product that can help.”

Ms Baranwal warned last March that US leadership in the nuclear energy industry is being ceded to countries such as Russia and China, who are quickly becoming leading suppliers of nuclear technologies. She said that the unique nature of nuclear technology creates a national strategic imperative to maintain US leadership in nuclear energy and “enhance US influence by being competitive in global nuclear energy markets.”

She added that, “Sustaining the current fleet of operating nuclear power plants is a priority for the nation.”

Since 2013, nine reactors have retired prematurely and eight more are scheduled to retire as a result of historically low natural gas prices, and flat or declining demand.

During the NEA webinar she announced an advanced reactor development programme with initial funding of $160m and the aim of building two reactors that can be operational within five to seven years.

The program, known as the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), is designed to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors in the US.

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