It would be an understatement to say that 2021 was an exciting year for advanced reactors in the US. TerraPower-GE Hitachi and X-Energy’s flagship ARDP demonstration designs have found their respective homes in Kemmerer, WY and Richland, WA. The DoD’s Project Pele has down-selected to BWXT and X-Energy designs of mobile microreactors. Kairos is making great strides in their rapid iteration development model with the NRC’s acceptance for review of their construction permit application at Oak Ridge, TN for the Hermes reactor. Meanwhile, Centrus is ramping up their capability to fuel them all and NASA is looking to fission power for propulsion and lunar missions, just to name a sampling.
With such rapid changes in the advanced reactor sector, the new year presents an opportune moment to survey the landscape and take stock of how these different technologies and designs fit into the decarbonization goals of the US:
Each technology class has a key role to play in the energy future of the US. Subsequent designs build on the experience and learnings of those that came before as potential applications look to expand new nuclear into the deeper decarbonization markets of heavy industry, remote grids, and even maritime transport.
Nuclear professionals across the industry have a lot to be proud of in 2021. The challenges of a new year are in excellent hands.