DOE taps X-energy, Southern Co. to develop advanced nuclear reactors

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently selected two companies, X-energy and Southern Company, as recipients of awards with a multi-year cost share of up to $80 million to create advanced nuclear reactor designs.

These awards exemplify the public-private partnerships hoped for under the recently launched Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) initiative, which aims to boost carbon-free energy generation.

In partnership with the nuclear energy industry, DOE will fund cost-shared research and development activities to support these two companies with advanced reactor concepts. Teams featuring participants from universities and national laboratories will work on targeted areas of development, including safety, operations and economics, for various projects.

“In order to ensure that nuclear energy remains a key source for U.S. electricity generation well into the future, it is critically important that we invest in these technologies today,” Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said.

X-energy will partner with BWX Technology, Oregon State University, Teledyne-Brown Engineering, SGL Group, Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Working on the Xe-100 Pebble Bed Advanced Reactor, the team will attempt to address design and fuel development challenges. Advantages of this type of reactor included advance safety features, next-generation design and a smaller size than traditional nuclear reactors.
 
Southern Company Services will work on the design of its Molten Chloride Fast Reactor, performing integrated effects tests and materials suitability studies for the reactor. The company will team with TerraPower, Electric Power Research Institute, Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

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