US-based materials science company Dow, and nuclear energy innovation company X-energy have announced that they have signed a letter of intent which will help Dow advance its carbon emissions reduction goals through the development and deployment of X-energy's advanced small modular nuclear technology in the US.
Dow and X-energy will collaborate to deploy X-energy's Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor technology at one of Dow's US Gulf Coast sites – which is expected to be operational by approximately 2030. The Xe-100 reactor plant would provide process heat and power to the Dow facility. Dow also intends to take a minority equity stake in X-energy, working with the company to deploy small modular reactor (SMR) technology.
"Advanced small modular nuclear technology is going to be a critical tool for Dow's path to zero-carbon emissions and our ability to drive growth by delivering low-carbon products to our customers," said Jim Fitterling, Dow chairman and CEO. "X-energy's technology is among the most advanced, and when deployed will deliver safe, reliable, low-carbon power and steam. This is a great opportunity for Dow to lead our industry in carbon neutral manufacturing by deploying next-generation nuclear energy."
X-energy's Xe-100 is a Generation IV, high-temperature gas reactor engineered to operate as a single 80MWe unit which can be optimised as a four-unit plant delivering 320MWe electric. The reactor can provide baseload power to an electricity system or support industrial applications with 200MW thermal output per unit of high pressure, high temperature steam.
"Nuclear energy has always offered the promise of broad economy-wide decarbonisation. Today's announcement marks an important step in turning that aspiration into reality," said Clay Sell, X-energy CEO. "Dow has a remarkable 125-year history of bringing innovative solutions to the market, and their leadership is a critical driver in meeting decarbonisation goals in the energy intensive industrial sector."
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has recognized that advanced SMR technology is a key part of its goal to develop safe, clean and affordable nuclear power options. In 2020, X-energy was selected by DOE's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program to deliver a four-unit Xe-100 plant in Washington state, which aims to be the first operational grid-scale advanced reactor plants in North America.
Small modular nuclear represents a key technology to enable energy-intensive industries to decarbonise. This announcement marks an additional step in Dow's efforts to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.
Image: Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor technology (courtesy of X-energy)