US Energy Department Offers $40Mln for New Nuclear Reactor Designs

Posted: August 4, 2015 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation, Nuclear power
A Westinghouse reactor design proposal (Image Credit: Westinghouse)

A Westinghouse reactor design proposal
(Image Credit: Westinghouse)

Back to the drawing board for nuclear power, reports Nuclear Power Daily. Looks like the replacement for US coal power won’t be ready for a while yet.

The US government is offering millions of dollars for innovative ideas to design new nuclear reactors, the Department of Energy announced in a press release.

“We have been encouraged by recent interest in advanced reactor technology,” Acting Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy John Kotek said on Friday. “The funding opportunity allows for multiple-year funding for up to two awards with a total of $40 million in DOE [Department of Energy] cost share per award.”

The Energy Department noted it was issuing the funding opportunity as an early step in increasing investment in nuclear advanced reactor technologies.

The funding, the Energy Department said, would support research, development and demonstration of advanced reactor concepts in promoting clean energy technologies.

“[New advanced reactor designs] have the potential to provide substantially enhanced operational performance, safety, security, economics and proliferation resistance,” the press release said.

The Energy Department explained it was seeking projects that could be turned into working reactors by 2035.

It would provide, in partnership with US industrial corporations, funding for “up to two awards of approximately $6.0 million each in FY [Fiscal Year] 2015.”

The Energy Department said it would invest up to $3.6 million in each project, with a federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) providing up to an additional $2.4 million.

“Recipients will be required to invest $1.5 million as part of the cost share,” the press release said.

Letters of intent for the awards are due no later than August 31, 2015, and the application due date is October 5, 2015, the press release added.

Original report: US Energy Department Offers $40Mln for New Nuclear Reactor Designs.

Someone in power must have noticed that renewables alone will never cut the mustard.

  1. oldbrew says:

    It takes a good ten years to get a design approved. How many of the 99 existing (mainly old) US reactors will have been closed before their replacements are built, if they ever are to be built?

  2. Berényi Péter says:

    Eh, there is not much need to be innovative. The Molten-salt reactor experiment was done half a century ago at ORNL (Oak Ridge National Laboratory, US), it worked, and it is still the best available basic design by far.

    The project was terminated by the Nixon administration, its director, Alvin Weinberg fired.

    Still no life is seen after death. It is a shameful story, really.

  3. tchannon says:

    How ridiculous. I read the situation differently, an intent at timewasting do-nothing long grass. DoE are playing manipulation games, wilful breakage of any alternate route.

    Worse than the obvious, if there is any intent to replace gas/coal/oil with electricity the generation capacity must be orders of magnitude greater than the total current capacity.

    There is no shortage of nuclear reactors, sign here. In addition the United States thinks it is the most advanced nation on earth, the most competent and yet is incapable of competent operation of any one of many different designs of nuclear reactor which others are operating!

    Get a life.

  4. ren says:

    Pressure anomalies over the Northern Polar Circle. The obvious effect of high cosmic radiation.

  5. 1000 times as much research to kill coal as to develop a cheaper, safer alternative. Your tax dollars at work. The Russians are already running 6 breeder reactors. How much more research is needed?

  6. michael hart says:

    Yes, damned by faint support. It seems a bit like David Cameron’s support for fracking: A person merely pretending to support the idea might say the same, knowing that it was wholly insufficient to overcome Luddite objections.

  7. oldbrew says:

    July 2015: ‘Nearly 50 American and Canadian tech companies, including heavy hitters like Bill Gates, have invested over a billion dollars in next-generation nuclear technologies in the last 10 years, according to the think tank Third Way.’

    So $40m is peanuts to these operators.

    ‘the money behind the current push for more advanced reactors is paltry compared to the costs associated with developing, licensing, and constructing even a single nuclear plant’

    Nuclear or – what?
    ‘Last month, researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research published a study showing that after California’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station shut down in 2012, natural gas plants stepped in to meet demand. A year later, California’s carbon dioxide emissions increased by 9 million tons — the amount emitted annually by 1.7 million automobiles.’

  8. ivan says:

    Do I smell a rather off red herring?

    This has to be something the green blob can point to and say they are thinking about other forms of energy.

    It is too little, too late. If, and it is a big if, they had continued with the thorium reactor research of the 60s and 70s both in the UK (Winfrith had an operational reactor producing power) and US there would have been no need for this grandstanding gesture.

    Now we will have to rely on the Chinese development which both the UK and US governments will try and shoot down because they didn’t have the foresight to do the R&D.

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    The CANDU reactor from Canada can use your choice of U Pu MOX or Thorium fuels. Also some “spent” LWR fuels IIRC.

    No new R&D needed, licensing and build designs proven and in production.

    I agree that this is just a gift to friends and fig leaf over a do nothing strategy…

  10. p.g.sharrow says:

    I would have to agree with Smith. This request for proposals is earmarked for some friend of the administration. Only 1 bid will be acceptable in the time and conditions specified. The DOE will be able to claim that they will do something, Maybe in 20 years, after a great deal of more study. One more part of the promised “Price of Electricity will necessarily greatly increase.” pg

  11. oldbrew says:

    Will CANDU get a foothold in the UK?

    ‘Candu Energy welcomes new phase of Canada-UK nuclear energy cooperation’ – Monday, June 29, 2015

  12. jccarlton says:

    Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Considering the complexity of a nuclear reactor and the amount of engineering and testing it takes to develop one, this is, at best, a small startup fund to define some concepts. A good start, but what’s really needed is a vibrant nuclear industry.