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BWXT subsidiary chosen to develop microreactor design for DOD

Lynchburg-based BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC is one of two companies chosen to develop a final prototype design for a transportable advanced nuclear microreactor, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Monday.

Along with Maryland’s X-energy LLC, BWXT was selected from a preliminary design competition and will continue developing its design under a Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) initiative called Project Pele. The two companies’ prototypes will then be reviewed in early 2022 and given a complete environmental analysis, after which one of the two companies will be chosen to build and demonstrate a prototype.

According to the DOD, the development of a small, transportable nuclear reactor would allow the agency to reduce its carbon emissions and provide tools for disaster relief and critical infrastructure support. The DOD uses approximately 30 terawatt-hours of electricity per year and more than 10 million gallons of fuel per day. Project Pele is a whole-government project with oversight by the U.S. Army, the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NASA and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“We are thrilled with the progress our industrial partners have made on their designs,” Jeff Waksman, Project Pele program manager, said in a statement. “We are confident that by early 2022 we will have two engineering designs matured to a sufficient state that we will be able to determine suitability for possible construction and testing.”

BWX Technologies Inc., BWXT Advanced Technologies’ parent, was chosen last year by the Department of Energy to design and develop a small nuclear reactor as part of a $106.6 million project. the Lynchburg nuclear fuel supplier has partnered with Idaho National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory on the project.

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