General Atomics applies for DOE small reactor funding

5 August 2013

General Atomics (GA) announced that it has applied to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for funding to help bring its innovative Energy Multiplier Module, EM2 small modular reactor to market. It has teamed up with industry and academia to support its application.

GA said that its 500 MWt (265 MWe) EM2 high-temperature, helium-cooled reactor "fits all major requirements for the new DOE initiative promoting an innovative small modular nuclear reactor that is much more economic, safer, less waste producing and more proliferation resistant."

DOE launched the second round of competition for the SMR licensing technical support programme in March. It targets reactors of 300 MW or less that are planned to be operable by 2025, three years later than the previous competition won by B&W in a consortium with the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bechtel with the 180 MW m-Power reactor. The second solicitation would share the $452 million funding allocation with the previous award, and would be a five-year 50% cost-share agreement, as before.

San-Diego-based General Atomics said that its EM2 module could "reduce electricity costs by 40% relative to current reactors and produce 80% less waste." The reactor can operate for '30 years without refueling versus 18 months for current light water reactors,' and uses high-performance silicon carbide fuel cladding that resists melting at high temperatures, GA said.

EM2 also incorporates a truck-transportable high-speed gas turbine generator, "meaning lower up front capital costs for utilities, as well as lower electricity costs for consumers," according to GA.

GA has teamed up with engineering and construction firm CB&I, as well as Japanese reactor vendor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and the Idaho National Laboratory, which offers ideal capabilities to test the new EM2 fuel system, according to a 2 August statement.

Other vendors that have announced responses to the second round of the DOE funding opportunity, which closed on 1 July, include Westinghouse with its 200 MWe SMR design, NuScale with a 45 MWe self-contained PWR module and Holtec International with its SMR-160.

Photo: EM2 reactor (Source: General Atomics)

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