In an effort to evaluate a new generation of flexible, cost-effective advanced nuclear reactors, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) signed a memorandum of understanding to advance that goal.
Under the agreement, ORNL and TVA will collaborate on ways to improve the economic feasibility of potentially licensing, building, operating and maintaining one or more advanced nuclear reactors, such as a small modular reactor, at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River site in East Tennessee. Such advanced reactors offer the potential of lower-cost carbon-free energy through reduced construction times and greater operational flexibility. TVA has not made a decision to build and would first need approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a specific design.
“We are combining our world-leading research capabilities and TVA’s operating expertise to accelerate the next generation of cost-effective nuclear power,” said ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia. “Nuclear has long been a key component of the U.S. energy portfolio, and growing demand for emission-free electricity requires that we innovate to ensure safe, affordable and efficient nuclear power for generations to come.”
“Nuclear generation plays an important role in providing clean, reliable power at TVA,” said TVA president and chief executive Jeff Lyash. “This partnership with ORNL supports TVA’s mission for innovation and will allow us to better explore potential future nuclear technologies that benefit the 10 million people across seven states and help lead nuclear energy’s future in the United States.”
The partnership will take advantage of ORNL’s scientific expertise and its unique facilities including the High Flux Isotope Reactor, Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility and Manufacturing Demonstration Facility.
This new effort builds on decades of collaboration between TVA and ORNL, leveraging nuclear capabilities and assets from both organizations, including a 2016 effort using modeling tools developed at ORNL to predict the first six months of operations of TVA’s Watts Bar Unit 2 nuclear power plant. Specific areas of importance that will be evaluated include: