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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced that DOE's Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will make awards valued at about $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 INL will issue a contract later this week to Westinghouse Electric Company for the pre-conceptual design of the NGNP, and will later issue contracts to AREVA NP and General Atomics to perform complimentary engineering studies in the areas of technology and design tradeoffs, initial cost estimates and selected plant arrangements.

This approach will provide the broadest range of technical input necessary to determine the research and development required over the next few years and to establish the technical and functional specifications for any subsequent design work.  Each of the three companies will assemble an industry team to expand the overall capabilities and experience available for the NGNP.

"These three commercial teams, broadly representing nuclear and other energy sectors, bring an important commercial perspective to the NGNP research and development initiative," DOE Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon said.  "Their involvement will help us focus our research and development activities as well as establish the functional requirements for the program."

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

NGNP is a very high temperature reactor concept capable of producing high temperature process heat suitable for the economical production of hydrogen, electricity and other energy sources.  The NGNP research and development program is part of DOE's Generation IV nuclear energy systems initiative aimed at developing next generation reactor technologies and is authorized by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

The results of the engineering and design work by Westinghouse Electric, AREVA NP, and General Atomics described above will provide an important foundation for completing the research and development on the very high temperature reactor.

Additional information concerning DOE's nuclear energy programs may be found on

Media contact(s):

Craig Stevens, (202) 586-4940