On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced selections for the award of approximately $40 million in total to two teams led by Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Co. and San Diego–based General Atomics for conceptual design and planning work for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).

The results of this work will help the Obama administration determine whether to proceed with detailed efforts toward construction and demonstration of the NGNP. If successful, the NGNP project will demonstrate high-temperature gas-cooled reactor technology that will be capable of producing electricity as well as process heat for industrial applications and will be configured for low technical and safety risk with highly reliable operations. Final cost-shared awards are subject to the negotiation of acceptable terms and conditions.

Approximately 16% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial process heat applications. The process heat or steam generated by the high-temperature nuclear reactors could be used for highly efficient electricity cogeneration, which has the potential to help energy-intensive industries, such as petrochemical producers, reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

"This investment reflects President Obama’s commitment to building the next generation of nuclear reactors that will create thousands of jobs and supply the clean energy to power our economy," said Chu. "It’s time for America to recapture the lead in the nuclear energy industry and lay the foundation for a stronger, cleaner, and more competitive economic future."

The NGNP project is planned to be conducted in two phases. Phase 1 comprises research and development, conceptual design, and development of licensing requirements. The selections announced on Monday will support the development of conceptual designs, cost, and schedule estimates for demonstration project completion and a business plan for integrating Phase 2 activities. The DOE will use information from its independent federal advisory committee, the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee, information and data gathered in Phase 1, and other factors in determining whether the project should continue to Phase 2. Phase 2 would entail detailed design, license review, and construction of a demonstration plant.

The DOE will now negotiate the final terms and conditions for the awards with the intention of completing conceptual designs by August 31, 2010.

Source: DOE