GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) has been selected by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) program, which seeks to use fast neutron spectrum technology to support the development of fuels and materials for US advanced reactors.
GE Hitachi stated that the project will focus on advancing with reactor design and to develop cost estimates for new fast neutron spectrum irradiation capability. Results from the project can help DOE in taking an informed decision about whether to construct a sodium-cooled fast test reactor that could become operational as early as 2026.
GEH and Bechtel National will work on the design and cost estimates for the VTR based on GEH’s PRISM technology.
GEH president and CEO Jay Wileman said: “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. 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.”
GE Hitachi stated that PRISM is sodium-cooled reactor have completed the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) preapplication review process. It was build on the principles of the EBR-II, an integral sodium-cooled fast reactor, which was operated for more than 30 years by Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) in Idaho.
The PRISM Probabilistic Risk Assessment, developed with ANL in 2016, provided a validation of the advanced reactor’s safety.
Bechtel senior vice president and Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security, and Operations business line general manager Peggy McCullough said: “The US currently has no capability to test these fuels and materials. 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.”
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is a Wilmington, North Carolina-based company that develops advanced reactors and offers nuclear services. It is a nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi to serve the global nuclear industry.