In February 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its plans to build a Versatile Test Reactor, or VTR. Once built, the research community will be able to leverage VTR’s high neutron flux to test nuclear materials 10 times faster than what is currently capable today.
- Modernize DOE’s essential nuclear energy research and development infrastructure.
- Accelerate the development of advanced nuclear fuels, materials, instrumentation, and sensors.
- Reestablish the United States as a global leader in nuclear science and innovation.
- Support the nation’s goal of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
The VTR project is led by Idaho National Laboratory in partnership with five national laboratories (Argonne, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest, and Savannah River) and includes a host of industry and university partners.
Why Do We Need a Versatile Test Reactor?
Pending Congressional appropriations, VTR will be the nation’s only high flux, fast neutron test reactor. This advanced fission environment will help the U.S. establish a rapid pace of nuclear innovation to support all stages of technology development for both current and advanced reactor technologies.
Record of Decision
On July 27, 2022, DOE issued a Record of Decision (ROD) for the Final VTR Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to document its decision to build VTR at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The ROD also includes the establishment of co-located facilities for the post-irradiation examination of test products and management of spent VTR driver fuel. According to the Final VTR EIS, building and operating VTR at the INL site would have minimal impacts to the environment.
With the VTR ROD, DOE will work with Congress per its authorization in the Energy Act of 2020, included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Pub. L. 116-68), to obtain the funding needed to execute VTR. The project will be implemented in accordance with the rigorous methodology established by DOE Order 413.3B, Program and Project Management for the Acquisition of Capital Assets.
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