Versatile Test Reactor (VTR)

  • What People are Saying | Versatile Test Reactor

Let’s Show the World We’re Serious About Nuclear Energy
By Niko McMurray, ClearPath

A lot has changed since the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act was signed into law in 2018. NEICA, as we call it, directed the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to determine the need for a specific kind of nuclear testing capabilities here in America. You may be shocked to learn that some U.S. nuclear energy companies send fuel and materials overseas for testing. If that is shocking, then you’re never going to believe where. Russia.

In the industry, we would say the U.S. could benefit from a versatile, fast neutron source to accelerate the testing of advanced nuclear fuels, materials, instrumentation, and sensors to enable development and deployment of advanced reactor systems. To translate in plain English, we need to get serious about having complete nuclear energy testing capabilities — ASAP.

Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is the lead national lab for the VTR project. Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Savannah River National Laboratory also provide strong support to the project.

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Versatile Test Reactor Fact Sheet
U.S. Department of Energy

The VTR will leverage existing U.S. government and industry investments in nuclear reactors to accelerate its design and construction process, using proven nuclear reactor technology to create a world-class scientific infrastructure.

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Energy Department wants to build nuclear test “fast” reactor
By Keith Ridler, Associated Press

A new nuclear test reactor is needed as part of an effort to revamp the nation’s fading nuclear power industry by developing safer fuel and power plants, the U.S. Department of Energy said Monday.

The federal agency said it will prepare an environmental impact statement as part of the process to build the test reactor in Idaho or Tennessee by the end of 2025. Public comments on the environmental review are being taken through Sept. 4.

The Versatile Test Reactor would be the first new test reactor built in the U.S. in decades and give the nation a dedicated “fast-neutron-spectrum” testing capability. Such reactors are called fast reactors.

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US scientists seek new parts to accelerate fast reactor build
By Neil Ford, Nuclear Energy Insider

The U.S.’ first fast neutron test reactor in decades will use advanced monitoring technology to speed up advanced reactor tests and Department of Energy (DOE) scientists are working with suppliers to complete the conceptual design by 2020.

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The First Nuclear Reactor Since the 1970s 
By Luke Burgess, Energy and Capital

The U.S. Department of Energy is planning to build the first nuclear reactor in America since the 1970s. And it has the uranium investment community buzzing with excitement.

Two weeks ago, Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced the DOE would officially launch the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) program.

The project will be overseen by the Idaho National Laboratory and use GE Hitachi (GEH) Nuclear Energy’s PRISM technology.

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Department of Energy moves forward with controversial test reactor 
By Adrian Cho, Science

If all goes as planned, the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) will be built at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) near Idaho Falls and will generate copious high-energy neutrons to test new material and technologies for nuclear reactors.

The VTR—also known as the Versatile Fast Neutron Source—would be the first reactor DOE has built since the 1970s. It would differ in one key respect from the typical commercial power reactors. Power reactors use a uranium fuel that contains just a few percent of the fissile isotope uranium-235 and is made to be used once and discarded. In contrast, the VTR would use a fuel richer in uranium-235 that would generate more high-energy neutrons as it “burned.” Those neutrons could be used to test how new materials and components age within the core of a conventional nuclear reactor, a key factor in reactor design.

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DOE Nearing Decision Checkpoint on Versatile Test Reactor 
By Jacqueline Toth, Morning Consult

The U.S. Energy Department is a few weeks away from wrapping up the first stage in its process to determine whether to construct a versatile test reactor, according to the head of the project at the Idaho National Laboratory.

Completion of the stage, called Critical Decision-Zero, or CD-0, means the Energy Department acknowledges that the versatile test reactor would address a critical gap in the department’s capabilities and authorizes the start of the conceptual design for the project, which is a research reactor that would enable tests of advanced fuels, sensors and other materials of interest to fast reactor developers.

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Technology Selected for DOE’s Versatile Test Reactor Program 
By Aaron Larson, Power

Battelle Energy Alliance—the management and operating contractor for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL)—selected GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s (GEH’s) PRISM technology to support the U.S. Department of Energy’s Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) program.

The VTR program is expected to accelerate the development of fuels and materials for U.S. advanced reactors, utilizing fast neutron spectrum technology. Rather than producing electricity, the VTR will conduct irradiation testing for fuels, materials, and equipment to be used in rapidly evolving designs for advanced reactors brought forward by U.S. companies, as well as public and private research institutions.

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DOE: There’s a Definite Need for a Fast Test Reactor
U.S. Department of Energy

There’s a growing interest in advanced nuclear energy.

Private companies have already invested more than $1 billion in new reactor designs that will be smaller, more affordable, highly flexible and extremely safe. So safe, in fact, that in the event of a problem, human intervention is not necessary.

VTR, tightly coupled with the rest of our research infrastructure, will be the state-of-the-art science and technology lab for advanced nuclear energy.

It will feature a sodium-cooled fast reactor that uses high energy neutrons to test and develop advanced reactor fuels and materials.

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