WILMINGTON, North Carolina (November 13, 2018) —GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) and its PRISM technology have been selected by Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) program which seeks to utilize fast neutron spectrum technology to support accelerated development of fuels and materials for U.S. advanced reactors.
The project is focused on advancing the reactor design and developing cost estimates for a new fast spectrum neutron irradiation capability. The results of the project will help inform a DOE decision about whether to construct a sodium-cooled fast test reactor that could become operational as early as 2026. GEH and Bechtel National Inc. will advance the design and cost estimates for the VTR based on GEH’s PRISM technology.
“The VTR is a vital and strategic project for the U.S. and its promising advanced reactor industry, and we applaud the administration and Congress for making this technology a priority,” said Jay Wileman, GEH President and CEO. “Our VTR project team combines GEH’s strength as a nuclear plant vendor, service provider and nuclear fuel fabricator with Bechtel’s strength in nuclear project management, engineering, procurement and construction. The mature PRISM technology is ideally suited to meet the VTR mission needs.”
“The U.S. currently has no capability to test these fuels and materials,” said Peggy McCullough, a Bechtel senior vice president and general manager of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security, and Operations business line. “Advanced reactors hold great promise but their components need the proper testing before they can be licensed and used in energy-producing reactors. That’s what the Versatile Test Reactor will provide. It’s extremely important for the science community, industry, regulators, and the future of nuclear energy research.”
Building on the proven principles of the EBR-II, an integral sodium-cooled fast reactor prototype that was operated successfully for more than 30 years at Idaho National Lab (INL), PRISM is the only sodium fast reactor to have successfully completed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) preapplication review process. The PRISM Probabilistic Risk Assessment, developed with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in 2016, provided a validation of the advanced reactor’s safety.