Research & Development

US / BWXT And X-energy Win DoD Contracts For Microreactor Development

By David Dalton
25 March 2021

BWXT And X-energy Win DoD Contracts For Microreactor Development
The US Department of Defense awarded BWXT Advanced Technologies and X-energy contracts to create a final prototype for a transportable advanced nuclear microreactor.

The two teams were selected from a preliminary design competition, and will each continue development independently under an initiative called Project Pele.

After a final design review in early 2022 and completion of environmental analysis, one of the two companies could be selected to build and demonstrate a prototype.

According to Defense News, the DoD uses approximately 30 TWh of electricity per year and almost 40 million litres of fuel per day – and this is increasing. A safe, small, transportable nuclear reactor would address this growing demand with a resilient, carbon-free energy source that does not add to the DoD’s fuel needs, while supporting mission-critical operations in remote and austere environments.

The aim of Project Pele is to develop a Generation IV nuclear reactor, which, once prototyped, could pave the way for commercial adoption of such technologies, reducing the nation’s carbon emissions and providing new tools for disaster relief and critical infrastructure support.

The prototype reactor will be designed to deliver 1-5 MW of electrical power for at least three years of operation at full power. To enable rapid transport and use, it will be designed to operate within three days of delivery and to be safely removed in as few as seven days.

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