SSR APPLIED - Automated Power Plants: Intelligent, Efficient, and Digitized

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Project Term:
04/01/2021 - 09/30/2024

Critical Need:

Although nuclear power is one pathway to achieving a zero-carbon grid, nuclear power plants are comparatively cost-intensive in some markets. Many industries are employing AI, advanced data analytics, distributed computing, powerful physics simulation tools, and other breakthroughs to advance autonomous, efficient, and low-cost O&M in their processes. O&M is approximately 80% of a reactor’s total generating cost. The nuclear energy industry has not fully explored these innovations, necessitating new designs of effective and low-cost advanced reactor O&M procedures. Knowledge gained from innovating now can lay the groundwork for optimal O&M. GEMINA sets the stage for advanced reactors to operate with a staffing plan and fixed O&M costs more akin to those of a combined cycle natural gas plant than those of the legacy light-water reactor fleet.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Moltex Energy will develop a multi-physics plant digital twin environment for its Stable Salt Reactor - Wasteburner (SSR-W). SSR‑W is a low overnight-capital plant design, targeting a <$2/kWe build cost. The first-of-a-kind (FOAK) plant uses contemporary approaches to nuclear power plant design and may be encumbered with conventional O&M obligations. The digital twin will be used to evaluate proposed O&M improvements for the SSR-W and empower the FOAK operator to better predict faults and execute remedial actions. A non-nuclear separate effects test loop will support the digital twin development to validate models and address larger uncertainties in flow conditions. By further reducing the SSR-W O&M levelized cost of energy contribution from a current ~$11/MWh to a proposed $1.75/MWh, the potential for transformative energy cost reduction is significant.

Potential Impact:

The program goal is to reduce fixed O&M costs from ~13 $/MWh in the current fleet to ~2 $/MWh in the advanced fleet. Benefits include:


Establishing U.S. advanced reactor technological leadership and improving U.S. energy security with safe, reliable, dispatchable power for a robust and resilient electric power system;


Reducing energy-related emissions with a competitive, carbon-free electricity source; and


Increasing productivity and creating a competitive edge for advanced reactors.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Robert Ledoux
Project Contact:
Andrew Ballard
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Argonne National Laboratory

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