US DOE awards $5.1 million for advanced nuclear technology

18 August 2020

The US Department of Energy (DOE) on 14 August announced an award of $5.1 million to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to develop modular-in-chamber electron beam welding capability for a future domestic advanced reactor demonstration project. This project has a total value of $6,492,021 of which DOE will provide approximately $5.1 million.

The award is through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s (NE) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) US Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development.

This is the ninth round of funding provided through this FOA. DOE announced previous funding awards in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Subsequent application reviews and selection processes will be conducted until December 2022, as supported by Congressional appropriations.

The solicitation is broken into three funding pathways:

  • First-of-a-Kind (FOAK) Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway, intended to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants which have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s.
  • Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which allows a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialisation potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.
  • Regulatory Assistance Grants pathway, which provides direct support for resolving design regulatory issues, regulatory review of licensing topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals for advanced reactor designs and capabilities.

The following project was selected under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway: Establishing Modular In-Chamber Electron Beam Welding (MIC-EBW) Phase II.

Under this proposal, DOE will award $5.1 million to EPRI of Palo Alto, California and Charlotte, North Carolina to:

  • Develop and establish MIC-EBW capability at a major US fabricator.
  • Reduce overall welding arc time by up to 90 percent compared to conventional welding technologies.
  • Successfully demonstrate a 10-foot (3.05-meter) diameter, 4.375-inch (110-millimeter) thick vessel EB weld in less than 90 minutes of welding time (current state of the art is several weeks).
  • Establish MIC-EBW capability to perform major reactor pressure vessel (RPV) girth welds for a NuScale Power design RPV.
  • Develop manufacturing process plans based on technology and required post-weld inspection/heat treatment.

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