Source: Energy Business Review | Staff Writer | January 18, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded contracts worth up to $80m to X-energy and Southern Company to further develop advanced nuclear reactor designs.


Southern Company will be responsible for developing and demonstrating advanced nuclear reactor technologies. Credit: Southern Company.

The contracts are intended to support work to address technical challenges to the design, construction, and operation of next generation nuclear reactors, which would contribute to the Administration’s aim to produce more carbon-free energy.

In particular, X-energy will partner with BWXT, Teledyne Brown Engineering, SGL Group, Oregon State University, Idaho National Laboratory, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop the Xe-100 pebble bed high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), as part of $40m contract.

X-energy president Harlan Bowers said: “Our Xe-100 pebble bed HTGR builds upon the Department of Energy’s significant investment in TRISO fuel technology under the Next Generation Nuclear Plant/Advanced Gas Reactor Programs.”

Additionally, Southern Company secured up to $40m contract to explore, develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor technologies.

The firm will partner with TerraPower, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute and Vanderbilt University to support the development of the molten chloride fast reactor (MCFR), an advanced concept for nuclear generation.

Southern Company chairman, president and CEO Thomas Fanning said: “Nuclear energy currently accounts for about 20% of the nation’s energy mix, and its importance will continue to grow as America transitions to a low-carbon energy future.

“This collaborative research effort will help accelerate the development of next generation nuclear reactors.”

Researchers expect the MCFRs to provide enhanced operational performance, safety, security and economic value when compared with other advanced reactor concepts.