Versatile Test Reactor (VTR)
In FY-18, Congress allocated $35 million to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy to begin developing a conceptual design, cost estimate, and schedule for a fast spectrum test reactor to support advanced nuclear reactor research and development. Another $65 million was set aside in the FY-19 budget.
DOE created the Versatile Test Reactor Program in April 2018 after receiving the initial funding allocation. Four primary national laboratories, including INL (along with ANL, LANL and ORNL), universities and industrial partners are collaborating on this initial phase, which includes developing a conceptual design, cost and schedule estimates, and other elements such as the needed support facilities.
The VTR Program was launched in response to requests from U.S. companies investing in and developing advanced reactors that require different testing facilities than the commercial nuclear power technology in use today.
The United States has long been a leader in the development of nuclear technologies. However, as there is currently no fast neutron testing capability in the U.S. to support advanced reactor research and development, U.S. industry has gone overseas for this capability. The Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) is intended to fill this long-standing gap, leveraging previous and existing U.S. government and industry investments in nuclear reactors to accelerate the design and construction process, using proven nuclear reactor technology to create a world-class test facility.
The VTR provides a platform to accelerate nuclear technology development for today’s light water reactors and tomorrow’s advanced reactors by conducting research in eight key areas:
• Molten Salt Reactors
• Gas-cooled Fast Reactors
• Lead-cooled Fast Reactors
• Sodium-cooled Fast Reactors
• Structural Materials Testing
• Rabbit Systems (for rapid specimen/test insertion and retrieval)
• Digital Engineering & Virtual Design and Construction
• Instrumentation & Controls