The Department of Energy announced on August 14 that $5.1 million would go to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) to develop modular-in-chamber electron beam welding capabilities to support reactor pressure vessel welding for NuScale Power’s small modular reactor design. The project has a total value of nearly $6.5 million, of which the DOE will provide about $5.1 million.
Scope of work: The award came through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s U.S. Industry Opportunities for Advanced Nuclear Technology Development funding opportunity announcement (FOA). Within the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway, EPRI has been granted funding to pursue several goals under a project called Establishing Modular In-Chamber Electron Beam Welding (MIC-EBW) Phase II, as follows:
Develop and establish MIC-EBW capability at a major U.S. fabricator.
Reduce overall welding time by up to 90 percent compared to conventional welding technologies.
Successfully demonstrate a 10-ft diameter, 4.375-in.-thick vessel electron beam weld in less than 90 minutes of welding time.
Establish MIC-EBW capability to perform major reactor pressure vessel girth welds for NuScale Power’s design.
Develop manufacturing process plans based on technology and required post weld inspection/heat treatment.
Cost-sharing paradigm: “Nuclear energy plays a key role in our nation’s energy security and carbon-reduction goals, so it is vital that DOE continues to fund advanced reactor projects,” said Rita Baranwal, DOE assistant secretary for nuclear energy, when the funding was announced. “This award is a cost-shared cooperative agreement, which allows us to work hand-in-hand with nuclear industry.”
The EPRI project is the only award made under the ninth round of Advanced Nuclear Technology Development FOA funding. Subsequent application reviews and selection processes will be conducted through December 2022, as supported by congressional appropriations. More information on the FOA and previous funding announcements can be found online.