US energy department to invest in advanced nuclear reactor projects

The US Department of Energy (DOE) said it will invest $3.5m in four advanced nuclear reactor projects that go beyond traditional light water designs.

Led by General Atomics, GE Hitachi, Gen4 Energy and Westinghouse Electric Company, the projects will address technical challenges in designing, building and operating the next generation of nuclear reactors.

The DOE’s latest move is part of US President Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution and accelerate the development of nuclear technologies.

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said, “Public-private research in advanced nuclear reactors will help accelerate American leadership in the next generation of nuclear energy technologies and enable low-carbon nuclear power to be a significant contributor to the U.S. energy economy.”

Under its project, General Atomics will conduct research and development on silicon carbide composite material, which may act as a reliable material for fuel rod cladding in advanced reactor designs.

GE Hitachi’s project will include the development of high temperature insulation materials and analysis tools to help design and manufacture electromagnetic pumps for liquid-metal-cooled nuclear reactors.

Gen4 Energy will conduct research and development on natural circulation designs for advanced nuclear reactors, which use a lead bismuth coolant.

Westinghouse will conduct analysis on sodium thermal hydraulics to support advanced nuclear reactor design.