DOE marks milestone with completion of basic design of Xe-100: New Nuclear

August 23, 2022

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has awarded $40 million in funds for the six-year project to complete the basic design of the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, which it says is critical to unlocking the path to multi-billion X-energy growth. – a one-dollar demonstration project and the first commercial facility in the United States to produce high-dosage low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel for next-generation reactors.

A rendering of an Xe-100 power plant (Image: X-energy)

Maryland-based X-energy received an Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC) award in 2015 for further developing its advanced Xe-100 reactor design and TRISO-X particle fuel. The project culminated in the completion of the reactor’s basic design and the fabrication of its first TRISO (tristructural isotropic) fuel pebbles using natural uranium in a pilot-scale fuel facility at the National Laboratory of ‘Oak Ridge, which was commissioned as part of the project.

X-energy is currently working to obtain a license for the reactor design from the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). It is also working to license and operate a HALEU fuel fabrication facility, with funding under the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The company’s subsidiary TRISO-X selected a site for a fuel fabrication plant in the Horizon Center Industrial Park in Oak Ridge in April, with commissioning and start-up envisioned as early as 2025. It plans to submit an application for reactor construction license to the NRC. by the end of 2023, with the first reactor of a four-unit Xe-100 plant to be built at a site in Washington State to be operational by 2028.

“The Advanced Reactor Concepts award has been the catalyst for X-energy’s progress toward deploying the Xe-100 reactor and our TRISO-based fuel fabrication facility,” said Pete Pappano, President of TRISO-X. The company’s current ARDP award will complete the mission of bringing carbon-free power to the grid while building the HALEU fuel supply chain for all advanced reactors, he added.

The DOE is committed to supporting its industrial partners in their efforts to deploy advanced reactors, said Alice Caponiti, DOE assistant assistant secretary for reactor fleet and advanced reactor deployment. “X-energy has made tremendous progress in moving the Xe-100 design forward for eventual deployment.”

X-energy is one of two companies with advanced nuclear demonstration projects – the other being TerraPower, working to build a Natrium reactor in Kemmerer, Wyoming – that are now receiving support under bipartisan law. on infrastructure, enacted in November 2021.

The Xe-100 is a high-temperature gas-fired pebble-bed reactor capable of 200 MW thermal output or (80 MW electrical). It uses fuel made from tough TRISO fuel particles that can withstand extremely high temperatures without melting. Optimized as a four-unit plant delivering 320 MWe, the reactor can provide baseload power to an electrical system or use its thermal power to support industrial applications with high-pressure, high-temperature steam.

X-energy recently signed a letter of intent with materials science company Dow to collaborate on the eventual deployment of Xe-100 small modular reactor technology at one of Dow’s manufacturing sites.

Research and writing by World Nuclear News

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