Nuclear power provides about one-fifth of U.S. electricity generation, delivering reliable, low-emission, baseload power to the grid. However, the future of nuclear power is unclear; high costs and a rapidly changing grid—including growing renewable resources like wind and solar—present new challenges for existing and new nuclear plants. The next generation of nuclear plants require new technological advances to achieve “walkaway” safe and secure operation, extremely low construction capital costs, and dramatically shorter construction and commissioning times than currently available plants.
Project Innovation + Advantages:
Advanced reactors, including Moltex’s stable salt reactor design, may be able to forgo large, expensive containment structures common in the current fleet of nuclear plants. Molten salt fuel chemically binds dangerous radionuclides, limiting the potential for radioactive gas release. The Moltex team will apply modeling and simulation to demonstrate the absence of radionuclide release for their reactor concept in accident scenarios, and the associated feasibility of using a new class of containment structures that are faster to install onsite and with higher composite strength. This new composite structural technology standardizes and expedites plant construction elements. It removes complex elements such as seismic dampers, high-performance cement mixing, and custom rebar configurations, which make nuclear construction time-consuming, labor intensive, and logistically challenging to deliver. In addition, this new technology presents an opportunity to accelerate construction for advanced reactors faster than solar, wind or combined-cycle power plants, significantly reducing the capital cost of next generation nuclear power.
If successful, developments from MEITNER projects will inform the development of lower cost, safe, and secure advanced nuclear power plants.
Nuclear power plants contribute to grid stability by providing reliable baseload power and are among the most secure facilities in the country.
Nuclear power has low life cycle emissions, making it a key source of clean electricity.
Nuclear power provides high-efficiency electrical generation for the U.S. grid. Reducing plant costs reduces exposure to price volatility.