Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Idaho National Laboratory are being considered as potential sites for a test reactor, where fuels and materials could be tested for new types of nuclear power reactors.
It’s not clear where the test reactor would be built at ORNL, if it’s built there.
The fast-neutron reactor, called the Versatile Test Reactor, would be sodium-cooled and small, about 300 megawatts thermal. It would be based on the GE Hitachi PRISM power reactor. That’s a small module design based on the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II, which operated for more than 30 years in Idaho, the U.S. Department of Energy said in a notice published in the Federal Register on Monday. (Fast neutrons are highly energetic neutrons that travel at speeds ranging from tens to thousands of kilometers per second.)
The Versatile Test Reactor would be a pool-type reactor and use metal alloy fuels that could include uranium, plutonium, zirconium and other alloying metals. It would not be a power reactor, and it would not generate electricity. It could generate at least 4×1015 neutrons per square centimeter per second.
Reactor operations could start as early as the end of 2026, DOE said. Fuel for the reactor could be fabricated at Idaho National Laboratory or the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.[Read more…]