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US Energy Dept. awards $1.6 million for advanced N-reactor study in PR


A $1.6 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy will be used to study the potential for advanced nuclear reactors in Puerto Rico.

By The Star Staff


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $8.5 million to help commercialize promising advanced nuclear technologies, including a $1.6 million award for a study of nuclear reactors in Puerto Rico.


The funding supports five industry-led projects across the country and leverages the latest modeling and simulation tools developed by the DOE, in addition to siting analysis and other research activities that will inform the future deployment of advanced reactors on islands or for potential use in maritime applications.


“Advanced reactors will completely change the way we engineer, build, and operate nuclear reactors,” said Dr. 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 awards are funded through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity, which has invested more than $215 million in advanced nuclear technologies since 2017. The solicitations are broken down into three funding pathways to support first-of-a-kind nuclear demonstration readiness projects, advanced reactor development projects, and direct regulatory assistance.


The headline award of $1.6 million went to the Nuclear Alternative Project (NAP) of Sugar Land, Texas, which will evaluate the general site suitability for small modular reactors and microreactors in Puerto Rico. Results of the study will support the DOE’s mission to commercialize the technologies in small island and/or remote locations.


NAP said the news was “exciting” for the company, noting that the work will be undertaken by Puerto Rican nuclear experts.


The island’s Integrated Resource Plan, which is the long-term plan for Puerto Rico’s energy needs, does not contemplate the use of nuclear reactors as a source of energy. NAP, however, insists on educating Puerto Rico residents about the use of such energy.


Other projects awarded last week were:


Off-Gas Modeling and Uncertainty Propagation to Support Molten Salt Reactor Licensing -- Terrestrial Energy USA Inc. (Charlotte, NC) will develop an approach to handling uncertainty in the modeling of off-gas systems of molten salt reactors. The team will use available nuclear energy advanced modeling and simulation program tools developed by the DOE and will apply the methodology to the company’s integral molten salt reactor design. Total award value: $2.9 million.


Accelerating Commercial Maritime Demonstration Projects for Advanced Nuclear Reactor Technologies -- American Bureau of Shipping (Spring, Texas) will focus on addressing hurdles in the maritime domain so that new reactor technology can be rapidly deployed for commercial applications. Advanced nuclear technology is well positioned to be one of the strongest tools available to help the industry achieve its aggressive decarbonization goals. Total award value: $793,999.


On the Path to a Nuclear Fuel Digital Twin: Modeling and Simulation of Silicon Carbide Cladding for Accelerated Fuel Qualification -- General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (San Diego, Calif.) will deliver a constitutive model, based on physics, for its silicon carbide-based fuel for high-temperature gas reactors. The new tool will be benchmarked against commercially available models and experimental data to demonstrate to regulators how the fuel behaves under all conditions in a reactor. Total award value: $2.7 million.

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