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WASHINGTON, D.C. – – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced funding for three domestic projects that will accelerate advanced nuclear technology development. These projects, valued at $26.9 million including industry cost-share contributions, will allow industry-led teams to advance the state of domestic commercial nuclear capability.

Two awards will advance flexible operation of light-water reactors with integrated hydrogen production systems. The third will leverage the modeling and simulation capabilities developed from the DOE Nuclear Energy Advanced Modeling and Simulation (NEAMS) program and Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling & Simulation (Hub).

The awards are through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s (NE) funding opportunity announcement (FOA) U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development, in collaboration with the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s (EERE) Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office for the hydrogen-related selections. Subsequent application reviews and selection processes will be conducted through December 2022, as supported by Congressional appropriations.

“These awards continue to demonstrate DOE’s commitment to accelerating U.S. advanced nuclear technology via private-public partnerships with our industry partners and national laboratories,” said Dr. Rita Baranwal, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy. “They truly showcase DOE’s all-of-the-above energy strategy.” 

“We are excited to continue our partnership with the Office of Nuclear Energy,” said Daniel R Simmons, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “After several years of working together, it will be valuable to see these real-world demonstration projects produce hydrogen and enable the integration of nuclear power with renewables.”

The solicitation is broken into three funding pathways:

  1. 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.
  2. Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which allows a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies.
  3. Regulatory Assistance Grants pathway, which provide 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 projects were selected under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway:

  • LWR Integrated Energy Systems Interface Technology Development & Demonstration – Under this proposal, Northern States Power Company - Xcel Energy (Minneapolis, MN), the principal objective is to carry out planning, design, installation, testing, demonstration, and evaluation of non-electric, hybrid energy technologies connected to a light-water reactor (LWR) power plant. The expected result of this project is to have both a fully-functional hydrogen plant capable of operating as a hybrid system to test diverse electrolysis technologies coupled with a LWR and the design development for a hybrid reversible system. Both project deliverables are to be integrated into the normal operating routine of a nuclear power plant.  Total Award Value: $13,769,630
  • Solid Oxide Electrolysis Demonstration - Under this proposal, FuelCell Energy Inc. (Danbury, CT) is teaming with Idaho National Laboratory on a solid oxide electrolysis cell (SOEC) system demonstration and validation project to deliver a 250 kW SOEC turn-key sub-scale system with ultra-high efficiency and low cost. The system will be critically verified and validated through collaboration with INL such that it will be ready to integrate into the nuclear environment.  These efforts will enable modular 200 to 500 MW SOEC utility scale systems to be available to the market and demonstrate how nuclear-hydrogen production operations can help nuclear plants diversify and increase their profitability by switching between electricity production and hydrogen generation. Total Award Value: $12,500,000

The following project was selected under the Regulatory Assistance Grants pathway:

  • Evaluation of Metal Fuel for LWR using BISON – Under this proposal, Structural Integrity Associates, Inc. (San Jose, CA), will leverage the modeling and simulation capabilities developed from DOE NEAMS and Energy Innovation Hub for Modeling & Simulation (Hub). The BISON fuel performance code will be used for analytical simulation of metal fuel behavior in a LWR environment. New material and behavior models will be developed and implemented in BISON to provide the needed capabilities for performance evaluation of metal fuel. The models and general methodology will be documented in a detailed report. Total Award Value: $625,000

NE funds research, development, and demonstration projects to reduce the risk and cost of advanced nuclear technologies, and to improve nuclear energy’s contribution to meeting the nation’s economic, energy security, and environmental challenges. More information on the Office of Nuclear Energy and previous funding announcements can be found here.