Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC has announced a partnership opportunity for the development and deployment of a new U.S. Department of Energy facility for fast neutron testing: the Versatile Test Reactor.

DOE’s Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Energy, Rita Baranwal, made the announcement at an American Nuclear Society meeting Monday in Washington, D.C. Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) is the managing and operating contractor for the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The VTR is a state-of-the-art research and development facility that creates the conditions necessary to test how well fuels, materials and sensors endure when battered with radiation in the form of fast neutrons.

“This morning, I have the pleasure to announce that Battelle Energy Alliance, the day-to-day contractor for Idaho National Laboratory, is seeking industry partnerships to develop and deploy the Versatile Test Reactor,” Baranwal said. “The Expression of Interest will be posted online by noon [ET] today.”

BEA is seeking Expression of Interest (EOI) from industry stakeholders interested in forming a partnership for a cost sharing arrangement to design and construct the VTR. The scope could include development and deployment of the VTR, other uses of VTR capabilities beyond just advanced reactor design and licensing, reducing the cost and schedule risk of new nuclear plant design and construction, and other compatible uses of VTR capabilities.

VTR would perform radiation tests in a controlled environment that could be representative of any number of current or future reactor designs. Just a few months of high intensity neutron bombardment in a test reactor can mimic years in a power reactor core.

In addition to helping with development of next-generation fast neutron reactors, the accelerated experimental results achieved with a fast neutron test reactor can benefit materials development for today’s water reactors, as well as other advanced thermal reactors that operate with slow neutrons at higher temperatures.

In conjunction with the completion of an environmental impact statement, the U.S. Department of Energy will decide as early as 2021 whether to proceed with building the Versatile Test Reactor. Congress must then choose whether to appropriate the necessary funding.

Construction could begin as soon as 2022 with operations commencing in 2026. The test reactor would be authorized by the DOE.

Click here for more information regarding the Expression of Interest.

Click here to view frequently asked questions about the Versatile Test Reactor.


Posted Nov. 18, 2019