The US Department of Energy (DoE) is to award some $8 million to three companies to perform engineering studies and develop a pre-conceptual design to guide research on the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).

The DoE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will make awards and will issue a contract to Westinghouse for the pre-conceptual design of the NGNP, and will later issue contracts to Areva and General Atomics to perform complimentary engineering studies in the areas of technology and design tradeoffs, initial cost estimates and selected plant arrangements.

The studies will use the funds and in-kind contributions by industry for pre-conceptual design activities, scheduled to be completed in 2007.

“These three commercial teams, broadly representing nuclear and other energy sectors, bring an important commercial perspective to the NGNP research and development initiative,” the DoE’s Dennis Spurgeon said.

The very high temperature NGNP reactor concept is capable of producing high temperature process heat suitable for the economical production of hydrogen, electricity and other energy sources.

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