In the latest effort to revive the United States’s flagging nuclear industry, the Department of Energy (DOE) aims to select and help build two new prototype nuclear reactors within 7 years, the agency announced last week. The reactors would be the centerpiece of DOE’s new Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, which will receive $230 million this fiscal year. Each would be built as a 50-50 collaboration with an industrial partner and ultimately could receive up to $4 billion in funding from DOE. But even some proponents of nuclear power doubt the program will spur construction of new commercial reactors as long as natural gas and renewable energy remain relatively cheap. “New builds can’t compete with renewables,” says Robert Rosner, a physicist at the University of Chicago. “Certainly not now.” Some observers say the initiative is unrealistic. DOE officials may struggle to identify the most promising of the many disparate designs, predicts M. V. Ramana, a physicist at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. “You’re be comparing apples, oranges, grapes, plums, everything,” he says. The 7-year time frame also strains credulity, Ramana says, especially as DOE wants the reactors to pass licensing reviews at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which typically takes several years. “It’s absurd to think they can do it.”
Science 20th May 2020 read more »
The Department of Energy (DoE) has started a new Office of Nuclear Energy project called the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The $230 million program will give $160 million to scientists working on two reactor designs that “can be operational” in the very near future.
Popular Mechanics 19th May 2020 read more »