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First Step to Spur U.S. Manufacturing of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

January 25, 2012 - 5:06pm

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The Energy Department recently announced the first step toward manufacturing small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) in the United States, demonstrating the Administration’s commitment to advancing U.S. manufacturing leadership in low-carbon, next generation energy technologies and restarting the nation’s nuclear industry.  

The release of a draft Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) last week presents supply-chain procurement opportunities for our nation's small businesses down the line, as industry provides input in advance of a full FOA on engineering, design certification, and licensing through a cost-shared partnership for up to two SMR designs. The Department aims to deploy these reactors by 2022.

Small modular reactors, approximately one-third the size of current nuclear plants, have compact designs that are expected to offer a host of safety, siting, construction and economic benefits. Specifically, they could be made in factories and transported to sites where they would be ready to plug and play upon arrival, reducing both capital costs and construction times. The small size also makes SMRs ideal for small electric grids and for locations that cannot support large reactors, providing utilities with the flexibility to scale production as demand changes.

This announcement comes on the heels of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) certification of Westinghouse Electric’s AP1000 nuclear reactor design, which was supported through a cost-shared agreement with the Energy Department. The Department’s efforts, in coordination with the NRC and private industry, have helped American companies and small businesses lead the way in obtaining certification and licensing approvals for new reactor designs, which will further streamline these processes for future investments in the U.S. nuclear industry.

Given that this is a draft FOA, we are not requesting applications or proposals at this time. Rather, we are seeking input from small business and industry to the Contract Specialist, Layne Isom, at isomla@id.doe.gov. The deadline for submission of draft FOA responses is February 17.

For more information on SMRs, please visit the Office of Nuclear Energy website.

 

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