Argonne microreactor designed to charge long-haul trucks of the future

October 8, 2020, 7:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

A team of engineers in Argonne National Laboratory’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Division have designed a microreactor called MiFi-DC that could be factory-produced and installed at highway rest stops across the country to power a proposed fleet of electric trucks. The reactors are described in an article, Could Argonne’s mini nuclear reactor solve the e-truck recharging dilemma? and a video released by Argonne on October 6.

Pairing a liquid metal thermal reactor with a thermal energy storage system, each reactor could fuel an average of 17 trucks a day.

“The reactor can operate for more than 10 years and generate direct current power to charge electric semis at rest stops,” said Derek Kultgen, a principal engineer who leads the new project. “We expect recharging costs to be far less expensive than fueling a diesel semitruck.”

The article makes the case that this microreactor design stands out for its flexibility (thanks to heat storage at times of low demand), its use of TRISO fuel pellets, and a cost kept under $3,000/kilowatt-hour by design choices including a relatively low operating temperature of about 700 °F.

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