Maryland-based small reactor developer X-energy announced Thursday that it would move its Xe-100 high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), which uses pebble bed technology, into the conceptual design phase. The decision to do so came after an independent panel of industry experts advised X Energy that it was ready to begin imagining how the design pieces might fit and operate together.
X-energy held a Conceptual Design Readiness Review on March 8 "to validate the baseline parameters, preparatory documentation, analysis tool, scope of the proposed conceptual design phase, management processes and overall team readiness to proceed to the next phase of reactor development," the company said.
X-energy also announced that it had brought in Southern Nuclear employee Clint Medlock to serve as Program Management Consultant.
The independent panel judging the company's readiness to move forward with a conceptual focus for the small reactor project included experts from Southern Nuclear, Burns & McDonnell and Technology Insights. “The panel concluded that X-energy is ready.” As such, the company formally launched its conceptual design phase on March 9.
Pebble-bed technology builds on a reactor process first envisioned in the 1940s. Advocates claim the technology is meltdown-proof, making the power plants cheaper than conventional reactors given the reduced need for redundant safety features.
X-energy envisions factory-built reactors, which would allow for consistent design and a smaller environmental impact on the power plant site, which could be as small as 10 acres.
“Each reactor will generate 200 MWt and approximately 75MWe. The standard Xe-100 'four pack' plant generates approximately 300MWe,” the company's website says.
X-energy founder and Chief Executive Officer Kam Ghaffarian called the move to a conceptual design phase “an important and wonderful milestone.”
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