The US Department of Energy (DOE) and US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on 17 October signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to share technical expertise and computing resources to speed up the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies. The MOU centres on DOE’s new National Reactor Innovation Centre (NRIC) initiative authorised by the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act of 2017. NRIC will accelerate commercialisation by helping private companies to test and demonstrate advanced nuclear technologies.

The agreement couples the research capabilities of DOE’s National Laboratories with the regulatory expertise of NRC to help inform and accelerate the development and licensing of advanced reactors. DOE and NRC will share technical information and expertise, and NRC will have access to capabilities developed through NRIC, including state-of-the-art high-performance computers and modelling codes, to support licensing of advanced nuclear reactors. NRC will also have access to DOE facilities in order to observe and learn from the research, development, and demonstration of innovative nuclear technologies.  NRC will provide DOE and the nuclear community with information on its regulations, guidance and licensing processes for new or advanced nuclear reactor technologies. DOE will assist prospective new or advanced reactor applicants in understanding and navigating the regulatory process.

“The United States has the technology, expertise and facilities to lead the world in developing next-generation reactors,” said Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dr Rita Baranwal. “This partnership between DOE and the NRC is a crucial step forward in making sure US nuclear technologies are available, both domestically and abroad, as soon as possible to bring clean and reliable energy to everyone around world.”