The Office of Advanced Reactor Technologies (ART) sponsors research, development and deployment activities leading to further safety, technical, economical, and environmental advancements of innovative Generation IV nuclear energy technologies.
The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) will pursue these advancements through RD&D activities at the Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratories and U.S. universities, as well as through collaboration with nuclear industry and international partners. These activities will focus on advancing scientific understanding of these technologies, establishing an international network of user facilities for nuclear RD&D, improving economic competitiveness, and reducing the technical and regulatory uncertainties for deploying new nuclear reactor technologies. International collaborations are conducted through bilateral and multilateral agreements, including through the Generation IV International Forum.
Types of Reactors
High-temperature reactors provide higher reactor outlet temperatures. When coupled with advanced energy conversion systems (e.g., S-CO2 Brayton cycle), high-temperature reactors will provide significantly improved thermal efficiency for power generation and a range of high-temperature process heat industrial applications.
Fast neutron spectrum systems could be used to consume long-lived, high-activity elements found in used light-water-reactor fuels, thus providing used fuel management alternatives to direct geological disposal by “burning” undesirable constituents of used fuel. Many potential fuel cycle options are enabled by using fast neutron spectrum systems. Higher outlet temperatures allowed by the liquid-metal coolants, coupled with supercritical CO2 Brayton cycle energy conversion, will also increase thermal efficiency.
Advanced SMR R&D
SMRs designed from advanced and innovative concepts, using non-LWR coolants such as liquid metal, helium or liquid salt, may offer added functionality and affordability. This program element will support laboratory, university, and industry projets to conduct nuclear R&D on capabilities and technologies that are unique and support development of advanced SMR concepts for use in the mid- to long-term.
Advanced SMR R&D activities will focus on four key areas:
- Developing assessment methods for evaluating advanced SMR technologies and characteristics;
- Developing and testing of materials, fuels and fabrication techniques;
- Resolving key regulatory issues identified by NRC and industry; and
- Developing advanced instrumentation and controls and human-machine interfaces.
This program element may also include evaluations of advanced reactor technologies that offer simplified operation and maintenance for distributed power and load-following applications, and increased proliferation resistance and security.