DOD Contracts For Micro-Reactor Development

The U.S. Defense Department has awarded contracts to three companies to participate in an engineering competition for related contracts to build micro-mobile nuclear reactors, the Defense News reported.

DOD SealThe contracts went to BWXTechnologies, Inc., headquartered in Virginia, Westinghouse Government Services, based in Washington, D.C., and X-energy, based in Maryland. The design contracts were announced as an $13.5 million contract for BWXT, $11.9 for Westinghouse and $14.3 million for X-e1nergy.

The so-called micro-reactors are expected to be deployed at remote locations, but this also might nuclear reactors “designed to potentially be forward deployed with forces outside the continental United States.  As such, “Project Pele”, run through the Strategic Capabilities Office, has sparked some resistance from some who question placing small nuclear reactors close to active battlefields.

The prototype the Pentagon is seeking is at a 1-5 megawatt power range. The Department of Energy is pursuing similar design research at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Defense News noted that other small reactor designs are in development, including those in the 20-300 MWe range, those in the 10-100 MWe range, which have already been deployed on icebreakers and in the Akademik Lomonosov floating power plant in northern Russia. A third option of microreactors is further behind with regards to development or design progress.

The Pentagon appears to be embracing various options. “The Pele Program’s uniqueness lies in the reactor’s mobility and safety,’ said program manager Jeff Waksman. “We will leverage our industry partners to develop a system that can be safely and rapidly moved by road, rail, se or air, and for quick set up and shut down, with a design which is inherently safe.”

“The Pele Program’s uniqueness lies in the reactor’s mobility and safety,” said Jeff Waksman, Project Pele program manager, in a department statement. “We will leverage our industry partners to develop a system that can be safely and rapidly moved by road, rail, sea or air and for quick set up and shut down, with a design which is inherently safe.”

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