Public-private partnerships with Department of Energy national laboratories help position U.S. suppliers like TerraPower in the global supply chain for advanced reactor designs and components. So we were pleased to see New York Times reporter Matt Wald write about two TerraPower partners, Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). The article highlights the important investments that private companies are making in the country’s national laboratories to advance nuclear reactor designs. It also references some of TerraPower’s successes from the last year.
In preparation for the Traveling Wave Reactor (TWR) prototype, TerraPower has been working with the Department of Energy on approaches for metal fuel fabrication. We have also been sharing data with the labs on liquid metal flows in fuel assemblies for validation of improved computer models and simulations.
In collaboration with INL, we commissioned a prototype fuel fabrication line at the Materials and Fuels Complex’s (MFC) Experimental Fuels Facility. We recently completed a series of successful tests of fabrication equipment. These tests help to further the capability to fabricate metallic fuel in the U.S.
TerraPower has also placed advanced metallic fuel pins in INL’s Advanced Test Reactor (ATR). These tests help us develop data to support TWR’s advanced fuel design. The results will increase our knowledge of the behavior of the advanced metallic fuel and provide critical benchmark data for licensing.
We also work with Argonne to improve safety analysis methodology. In addition, Argonne will participate in a Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) focused on predictive methods for modeling flow and thermal performance in distorted liquid metal cooled fast reactor fuel assemblies.
As 2015 approaches, we look forward to results these collaborations will yield. We will continue to direct private sector R&D money into the national laboratories. These cooperative efforts are important. They improve basic scientific understanding of advanced nuclear technologies as we facilitate the commercialization of the TWR.
In 2015, efforts to advance new nuclear energy concepts will open better global options for an “all of the above” sustainable energy future. The U.S. government needs to be part of this discussion and we hope the New York Times article jumpstarts attention in 2015 to the unique opportunities presented by American-led innovation.