May 23, 2016

ARPA-E seeks Enabling Technologies for Ultra-Safe and Secure Modular Nuclear Energy Systems

ARPA-E is looking to fund projects that will enable accelerated development and regulatory acceptance of modular1 nuclear energy options involving either Gen III+ or Gen IV design features.

If made technically and economically viable, modular nuclear reactor technologies can augment large-scale reactors in providing clean, safe, secure, carbon-free electricity as well as heat energy for various non-electrical applications (e.g., industrial processes, mining activities, hydrogen production, and seawater desalination). ARPA-E is particularly interested in innovations that enable reactor designs to be:

1) inherently safe (beyond passive safety) with multiple safety mechanisms to prevent core melting in case of a loss of coolant accident (LOCA);
2) extremely secure without exposure of radioactive nuclides in case of LOCA or an enclosure breach with a zero or near zero emergency planning zone (EPZ);
3) quickly responsive to external load variations with control mechanisms that can also add safety beyond passive cool down;
4) long-lasting with operational durations of 10 to 20 years without refueling;
5) substantially autonomous in operations with minimal operator intervention; and
6) proliferation resistant.

Consistent with the agency’s mission, ARPA-E is seeking information on disruptive, novel technologies, relatively early in the R and D cycle, and not integration strategies for existing technologies


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