DOE Awards $5.1M To Advance Electron-Beam Welding

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced an award of $5.1 million granted to the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) to develop modular-in-chamber electron beam welding capability for a future domestic advanced reactor demonstration project.

EPRIThrough cost-sharing, this project has a total value of approximately $6.5 million of which DOE will provide approximately $5.1 million, the DOE said, noting the award was channeled through the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE).

This is the ninth round of funding provided through this innovative FOA. DOE announced previous funding awards in 2018, 2019, and 2020. Subsequent application reviews and selection processes will be conducted through December 2022, "as supported by Congressional appropriation," the DOE said.

There are three funding pathways tied to this award. A First-Of-A-Kind Nuclear Demonstration Readiness Project pathway is designed to address major advanced reactor design development projects or complex technology advancements for existing plants that have significant technical and licensing risk and have the potential to be deployed by the mid-to-late 2020s. An Advanced Reactor Development channel allows for a broad scope of proposed concepts and ideas that are best suited to improving the capabilities and commercialization potential of advanced reactor designs and technologies. And the Regulatory Assistant Grants program provides direct support for resolving design regulatory issues, regulatory review of licensing topical reports or papers, and other efforts focused on obtaining certification and licensing approvals for advanced reactor designs and capabilities.

Under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, which includes the $5.1 million award intended to establish Modular In-Chamber Electron Beam Welding, awarded to the Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI) of Palo Alto, California and Charlotte, North Carolina for the purpose of establishing MIC-EBW capability at a "major U.S. Fabricator." The goals include reducing overall welding time by up to 90 percent compared to conventional welding technologies. In addition, goals include developing the technique to work on the RPV design for a NuScale Power reactor pressure vessel. Pushing further, the goals include developing techniques for manufacturing process plans based on technology and required post-weld inspection/heat treatment.

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