ARC-20 cost-share funds go to ARC Nuclear, General Atomics, and MIT

December 23, 2020, 7:00AMNuclear News

Designs chosen for ARC-20 support could be commercialized in the mid-2030s. Graphic: DOE

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) has named the recipients of $20 million in Fiscal Year 2020 awards for Advanced Reactor Concepts–20 (ARC-20), the third of three programs under its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP). The three selected teams—from Advanced Reactor Concepts LLC, General Atomics, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—will share the allocated FY20 funding for ARC-20 and bring the total number of projects funded through ARDP to 10. DOE-NE announced the news on December 22.

The DOE expects to invest a total of about $56 million in ARC-20 over four years, with industry partners providing at least 20 percent in matching funds. The ARDP funding opportunity announcement, issued in May 2020, included ARC-20 awards, Advanced Reactor Demonstration awards, and Risk Reduction for Future Demonstration awards.

The chosen three: The goal of the ARC-20 program is to assist the progression of advanced reactor designs in their earliest phases, with a commercialization horizon in the mid-2030s.

The selected teams are:

  • Inherently Safe Advanced SMR for American Nuclear Leadership, Advanced Reactor Concepts, LLC. ARC Nuclear of Herndon, Va., will deliver a conceptual design of a seismically isolated advanced sodium-cooled reactor facility that builds upon an initial preconceptual design of a 100-MWe reactor facility. Total award value over three-and-a-half years: $34.4 million (DOE share is $27.5 million).
  • Fast Modular Reactor Conceptual Design, General Atomics. General Atomics, of San Diego, Calif., will develop a 50-MWe fast modular reactor conceptual design and verify key metrics in fuel, safety, and operational performance. Total award value over three years: $31.1 million (DOE share is $24.8 million).
  • Horizontal Compact High Temperature Gas Reactor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT, of Cambridge, Mass., plans to take the Modular Integrated Gas-Cooled High Temperature Reactor (MIGHTR) concept from a preconceptual stage to a conceptual stage to support commercialization. Total award value over three years: $4.9 million (DOE share is $3.9 million).

ARDP background: The DOE was directed by the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act to establish the ARDP to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors.

In October, the DOE announced the selection of TerraPower and X-energy to receive $160 million in initial demonstration funding to develop and construct two advanced nuclear reactors that can be operational within seven years. On December 16, the DOE announced the selections of five teams to receive $30 million in initial funding under ARDP’s Risk Reduction for Future Demonstration program.

“ARDP is significant because it will enable a market for commercial reactors that are safe and affordable to both construct and operate in the near- and mid-term,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette. “All three programs under ARDP pave the way for the United States to be highly competitive globally.”

Future funds: Funding for ARDP is contingent on additional future appropriations, evaluations of satisfactory progress, and DOE approval of continuation applications. Congress has appropriated $250 million for ARDP in FY21; a total of $230 million was appropriated for FY20 to initiate the program.

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