The University of Tennessee (UT) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) signed a memorandum of understanding on April 7 to evaluate the development of a new generation of cost-effective advanced nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors (SMR), at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site in Roane County, Tenn.
The details: TVA has not made a decision to build a reactor and would first need approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a specific design. UT and TVA will collaborate and evaluate the economic feasibility of potentially operating light-water or non-light-water fission reactors that build on the success of the current generation of reactors by utilizing the expertise of UT’s nuclear engineering department.
Background: TVA signed a similar agreement with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in February 2020 to explore advanced reactor designs as a next-generation nuclear technology with potential for improved safety and increased flexibility. TVA is the only utility in the United States with an approved early site permit from the NRC to potentially build SMRs.
The flagship UT campus in Knoxville is home to more than 29,000 students. It holds partnerships with the Department of Energy and ORNL that address issues in energy, transportation, climate, and the environment.
What they’re saying: “UT offers unique capabilities supporting TVA’s mission for innovation in nuclear power,” TVA president and chief executive officer Jeff Lyash said in an April 7 release. “This partnership allows us to better explore new nuclear technologies through UT’s advanced modeling and simulation tools as we continue to pursue a clean energy future,” Lyash added.
Wes Hines, head of UT’s engineering department, commented, “Established in 1957, our department is the oldest and one of the most prestigious in the country. This strategic partnership with TVA to build highly efficient advanced reactors will help us pave the way for a clean, reliable energy future.”