Category Archives: News

NGNP Industry Alliance to Address Leaders and Scientists at HTR 2018 Conference in Warsaw

NGNP Industry Alliance CEO Donald Hoffman and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Finis Southworth will address the HTR 2018: International Conference on High Temperature Reactor Technology, in Warsaw, Poland, October 8 to 10.

Mr. Hoffman will present progress made in the United States promoting the deployment of Generation-IV nuclear technologies such as the High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR), and associated energy systems. Dr. Southworth will provide updates on the NGNP Industry Alliance’s consultative work on the Gemini Plus Research and Development Project, done in partnership with the Euratom Research and Training Program.

“We want the international community to know that U.S. companies are working hard to create commercial opportunities for advanced nuclear, and that the National Laboratories are playing a major role with cross-cutting technical advancements,” said Mr. Hoffman. “The White House and Congress are very much engaged, as demonstrated by their strong budget support for advanced nuclear RD&D,” he added.

“Gemini Plus came about from NGNP Industry Alliance members’ work with Poland,” said Dr. Southworth. “Working together, we quickly realized that international collaboration creates the synergies needed for public-private partnerships to be successful. Gemini Plus leverages the science, technology and ‘know-how’ to commercialize advanced nuclear for industrial use.”

The biannual HTR Conference was inaugurated by the European High Temperature Reactor Technology Network (HTR-TN) in 2002 and brings together research and industry experts from around the world. The NGNP Industry Alliance was a host of the previous HTR Conference, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 2016.

NGNP Industry Alliance to Address HTR 2018 Warsaw 10.8.2018

New Members to the Alliance!

The NGNP Industry Alliance is please to welcome ATKINS to the group! The link below provides more details.

01192017_Alliance Press Release Atkins Joins Mission

An intrinsically safe, near -zero carbon source of process heat and electricity

The HTGR’s intrinsic safety permits its colocation with industrial installations, allowing it to address the industrial sectors which are responsible for more than 20% of energy usage in North America and Europe and above 25% in Asia (according to Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development [OECD]). Refining, chemical processing, and iron and steel industries rely on fossil fuels for high temperature process heat and account for over 40% of the industrial sector energy usage.

Today, there are limited options for near-zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emission high temperature process heat. HTGR technology provides a promising option in the near term that addresses industry’s CO2 emissions, regional energy stability, supply security, and price volatility. HTGR technology is the most mature advanced form of nuclear energy that can provide a near-zero emission source of both process heat and electricity for industry. Along with proven long term fuel supply availability and price stability, each plant can store fuel for more than a year of operation eliminating fuel availability and delivery uncertainties that lead to price volatility of fossil fuel energy source alternatives. HTGRs deliver reliable energy in the form of process heat and electricity that does not depend on external factors such as time of day or weather conditions. The capability to switch between process heat and electricity generation and the ability to increase or decrease the amount of delivered energy provides a flexible low carbon source of energy unattainable with other renewable sources of energy.

The potential market for HTGRs is only limited by the market acceptability and industrial demand — hundreds of reactor modules in North America alone and hundreds more in other regions across the globe including the Middle East, Japan, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Europe, and Asia. China and Russia are pursuing HTGR designs and are working to bring their systems to market world-wide.

Investment in the development or deployment venture will be negotiated to ensure the terms are equitable and acceptable to all parties. Arrangements regarding intellectual property (IP) ownership, rights, and use would be made between the specific IP holder and the interested investor.

Read more at: Look for 2015 NGNP Industry Alliance Investor Business Plan Overview.


International Industry Organizations Meet to Collaborate on Intrinsically Safe Nuclear Reactor Technology

Washington, D.C. – Leaders of the US-based NGNP Industry Alliance Limited (Alliance) and the European Nuclear Cogeneration Industrial Initiative (NC2I) met last week to discuss collaboration opportunities to development and commercialize a Generation IV, intrinsically safe nuclear high temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) technology that can be used for cogeneration of process heat and electricity, displacing other fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases they cause.Common interests in the development of this safe, clean and sustainable nuclear energy brought high-level representatives of the Alliance and NC2I together for a three-day meeting at the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington D.C. on 5-7 March 2014.
Both the NC2I and Alliance have missions to enable commercialization of the HTGR technology and expand the use of nuclear energy to industrial applications with the primary objectives to significantly reduce industry’s carbon footprint as well as their dependence on premium fossil fuels.
Both groups are setting targets to build and demonstrate HTGR installations in energy-intensive industries over the coming decade. They are carrying out technology development activities with the goal to design, demonstrate, build and operate the HTGR as a standard offering that can be used for process heat/steam applications.
Participants shared updates on the overall status of HTGR activities in North America and in Europe. They reviewed funding options for nuclear cogeneration installations and discussed areas open for future partnerships and cooperation. Together, they agreed to work on a Memorandum of Understanding that will pave the way to:

  • Develop a joint vision, business plan and roadmap;
  • Share information on technology, safety and applications to electric power generation, process heat application and, in the longer term, hydrogen production;
  • Collaborate on establishing an international licensing framework for the HTGR;
  • Collaborate on demonstration and deployment of HTGR systems;
  • Support joint research beneficial to worldwide commercialization; and
  • Outline concepts of parallel or “sister” HTGR projects in North America and the European Union.

Today, nearly 80% of the world’s energy demand is consumed in the industrial and transportation sectors with fossil fuels being the primary source of energy supply for these sectors. The production of carbon free heat at temperatures approaching 700 – 900 deg. C from advanced nuclear energy technology is a major innovation that can open large new markets for plant production systems, and jobs for the future.
Nuclear power continues to provide a significant contribution to curbing carbon dioxide, mercury and other particulate emissions. Energy from nuclear supports world-wide leadership in energy policy by providing a clean energy option that increases security and efficiency of energy supply and decreasing energy cost volatility.


TRISO Fuel News

The High Temperature Gas Reactor (HTGR) is designed to use an all ceramic fuel form which supports the ‘inherent safety’ of HTGR.  This fuel form is call TRISO, and production of this fuel in the US and in Germany in the 1980s resulted in excellent fuel, but not as good as HTGRs demand.  The degree of manufacturing flaws in the TRISO fuel have to be exceptionally low and the fuel has to perform under all normal and abnormal operations without significant damage to the fuel.

The current work at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) provides high confidence that the new production process for TRISO fuel, first demonstrated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), and turned into a reliable production process at Babcock and Wilcox, will perform at the high levels expected by the NGNP Industrial Alliance.

INL, in conjunction with ORNL, recently announced some remarkable news about TRISO fuel. The NGNP Alliance has been tracking this very specialized and sophisticated work at these National Laboratories closely for the past several years .  And we’re impressed!

First, what is TRISO fuel and why do we care?

TRISO is a shortened version of TRIstructural-ISOtropic. Say that mouthful a few times in a row and you’ll understand why they nicknamed it TRISO. TRISO fuel is tiny balls of uranium coated with carbon, then silicon carbide, then carbon.

The ball (or spherical) shape means that the fuel maintains its strength in every direction. LWR fuel is small cylinder shaped pellets; that shape means that they behave a bit differently along the axis of the cylinder than they do across the diameter.  The spherical shape of TRISO fuel is important in helping to ensure its integrity under normal or any possible accident condition. Isotropic simply means that something is the same in every direction.

The three coatings provide structure and containment, essentially each tiny ball is an individual containment system. That’s called tristructural. Tristructual-isotropic or TRISO.

How tiny are those balls? Each one is about 1mm in diameter – about the same size as the tip of a ballpoint pen. About 96,000 of them could fit in a chap-stick tube.

This type of fuel has been known for decades. The Germans first developed it in the 1980s and several countries have considered it for various next generation reactors. It works particularly well in HTGRs by allowing much higher temperatures and much more effective use of the uranium within the tiny sphere.  Technicians at INL and ORNL have been working with a U.S. version of the fuel to see if they can make it even better.

So what’s the big news?

The US has been testing how the fuel will behave in high temperature next generation reactors. This is where INL and ORNL come in. They put approximately 300,000 TRISO fuel particles into one of their test reactors and irradiated them for 3 years.

This TRISO fuel was subjected to neutron radiation much like it would experience in a real HTGR. After three years, they took it out and baked it at extremely high temperatures to simulate conditions beyond even a worst case scenario accident situation.

They baked it to about 1800 degrees Celsius. That’s more than 3700 degrees Fahrenheit, more than 1500 degrees (Fahrenheit) hotter than any current generation nuclear fuel is expected to withstand. It is nearly 200 degrees (Celsius) hotter than any accident scenario for the HTGR. Only a few of these tiny balls of fuel leaked ANY fission products at that high level.  This level of leakage is so small, that even at 1800 C, no on-site or off-site consequence would result.

Compared to the German TRISO designs and experience, about 10 times fewer particles failed at 1600C compared to assumptions used by designers and about 100 times fewer failed at 1800 C than historic German data (which is well above temperatures expected in a worst case accident where all coolant is lost and the operators take no action.).  If this level of performance continues in the next series of tests (qualification series), it will provide powerful evidence that the HTGR will be so safe that no emergency plan outside of the plant would be required on the basis of contamination or radiation.

Such high temperatures and so few failures demonstrate the robustness of TRISO fuel and the inherent safety of the prismatic HTGR concept, another step forward in achieving the deployment of HTGRs that we, at NGNP Industry Alliance, are excited about.

New Members to the NGNP Alliance!

South Carolina & Georgia Development Groups Join Next Generation Nuclear Plant Industry Alliance

Ridgeland Mississippi – Today the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization (SRSCRO) and the Advanced Research Center (ARC) announced their membership in the Next Generation Nuclear Plant Industry Alliance. Leaders from both organizations expressed their enthusiasm for moving forward High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) technology and for the potential of hosting these next generation reactors in the surrounding area or, if property becomes available at the Savannah River Site.

Fred Moore, the Executive Director Emeritus of the NGNP Industry Alliance said “We are very excited about the SRSCRO and ARC joining our other companies in this great cause. The surrounding area is, in fact, a great future location of HTGRs or even the possible location for the first of a kind construction.”

Rick McLeod, Executive Director of the SRSCRO said “These high temperature reactors present a very real and very exciting possibility for our region of the country. We have several local industrial heat users in South Carolina and Georgia that would greatly benefit from the price stability and environmental benefits of heat produced by this type of small modular reactor. Our community is a pro-nuclear community and we have an existing skilled nuclear work force associated with the Savannah River Site and surrounding nuclear industry. We also have established training programs to train future workers for jobs in the nuclear industry. Plus, there are a number of well-characterized and appropriate sites for these next generation modular reactors.”

Fred Humes, Director of the Advanced Research Center added “The market for HTGRs is substantial. The NGNP Industry Alliance and the Idaho National Laboratory have conservatively estimated that in North America alone, there is a market for over 700 of these advanced high temperature SMRs. The Aiken area can be in on the ground floor in terms of fuel manufacturing, components, materials, etc. The need to build out this capability definitely plays to our strengths. In addition, there are several potential uses of the technology that are particularly intriguing to me, including high temperature steam for our industries along with an added advantage of a supply of electrical power. There’s also the very exciting potential for using HTGR heat and electric power for the production of large quantities of hydrogen without fossil fuel use – this could be revolutionary for petrochemical and carbon conversion industries around the world.”

On the subject of timing, Moore stated that “The impression some people may have that HTGRs are decades away is simply false. There is a good historic legacy, including in the U.S., for this technology. Two test reactors are currently operational globally and a commercial sized unit is being built in China. Although a technology development effort is needed in parallel with a modern, U.S.-based licensing process, the technology development risk is very low. With a focused, aggressive effort, the first-of-a-kind modern HTGR module could be up and operating in the U.S. by about 2026 as part of a multi-module deployment.”

Moore added that the Alliance has completed its business plan and is currently speaking with potential investors.


The Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization is a non-profit regional group focused on supporting job creation in a five-county region of Georgia and South Carolina, including Aiken, Allendale and Barnwell counties in South Carolina and Richmond (Augusta) and Columbia counties in Georgia. The group’s mission is to facilitate economic development opportunities associated with Savannah River Site technology, capabilities and missions and to serve as an informed, unified community voice for the two-state region.
For more information, go to:

The Advanced Research Center is a division of the Economic Development Partnership. The Economic Development Partnership represents Aiken and Edgefield Counties in all aspects of economic development from recruitment of manufacturing companies to the advancement of technology from SRS and SRNL. The ARC mission is to bring technology into the private sector through initiatives such as the Center for Hydrogen Research, the Savannah River Research Campus, innovation centers and active support of the advancement of SRNL technologies.
For more information, go to:

The mission of the NGNP Industry Alliance is to commercialize High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor (HTGR) technology and expand the use of clean nuclear energy within industrial applications. The Alliance is comprised of potential end users, owner operators and technology companies including: AREVA, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical, Entergy, GrafTech International Ltd., Mersen, Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada, SGL Group, Technology Insights, Toyo Tanso Co. Ltd., Ultra Safe Nuclear and Westinghouse. HTGRs are distinct from conventional light water reactors in that their high outlet temperatures enable a large increase in electric power production efficiency and also enable them to substitute for fossil fuel use in many energy-intensive industrial processes. Further, their inherently safety features enable their placement near those facilities.

Why Are These People Talking About Nuclear Power And Industry?

What if we could find a low carbon alternative for burning natural gas for industrial applications and avoid millions of tons of CO2 emissions? Nuclear energy has been a workhorse provider of electric power in the U.S. for decades – now producing about 20% of our electricity. Electric power in some ways dominates the discussion on climate and energy security. A newbie who just dropped into that debate – featuring renewables vs coal vs oil vs natural gas vs nuclear – might think that if somehow we could just lick this electric power issue, all of our problems would be solved. Turns out that’s not even close to true of course.

(Click here for a graphic on primary energy consumption by source and sector 2010 – chart courtesy of U.S. Energy Information Administration)

In fact, electric power accounts for only just about 38% of all of the energy we use. That’s significant, but even if we substantially crank up the percentage of nuclear in that sector, we still are not making a huge dent in the big energy picture. The transportation and industrial sectors of our economy actually account for about 47% of our energy consumption and THAT is exactly where we’re most dependent on oil and natural gas and exactly where renewables are the least likely to have a major impact. See the attached graphic, but it turns out that around one third of natural gas usage is associated with industry (somewhat more than for each of the residential/commercial and electric power sectors). Over 70% of petroleum (our largest single energy source) is used in the transportation sector and and somewhat over 20% in industry.

As mentioned before, Light Water Reactors simply don’t have hot enough outlet temperatures (limited to around 350C) to make them relevant to substituting for natural gas in industry or for converting coal or other carbon stocks into liquid fuels. However, High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactors not only have the outlet temperatures necessary (750 degrees C and above), but also have the safety characteristics that make co-location possible.

But that same drop-in newbie might ask: “Looks to me like natural gas prices are low and supplies are plentiful, why bother?” Well, haven’t we been down this road before? Most of us over 40 (or is that 30?) instinctively know that as we switch out our existing coal generation to natural gas and maybe move toward more natural gas fueled transportation technology, etc. we’re no doubt hastening the day when gas prices will be going up. So why not try to do a bit of a nuclear end-run around this bad dynamic and plan ahead?

If it’s true that renewables such as solar and wind need not apply for the heavy energy lifting and feedstocks required by the industrial sector (that’s an argument for a different day) and that ultimately we need to wean ourselves as much as possible from fossil fuels for reasons of cost, supply and maybe even climate (maybe even that’s an argument for another day), then it seems apparent that nuclear energy is really the only significant remaining option.

And, it turns out, that in some places in the world, High Temperature Gas Reactor technology could be economically competitive for industrial applications today

For several years now, the NGNP project has been evaluating this technology in a wide range of industrial applications. For example, the HTGR technology is a technically viable low-carbon substitute for the burning of natural gas and other fossil fuels to supply steam, electricity and high-temperature heat to industrial applications.

Near-term deployment of an HTGR could significantly reduce process heat dependence on fossil fuels. These reactors could also increase long-term price protection against volatility in fossil fuel markets and increase energy security for large, capital intensive, and high production chemical production facilities.

Like the energy from more conventional LWRs, HTGR power costs will be stable and secure, insulating the industries from the volatility in natural gas pricing. Further, this competitive energy pricing will remain stable over the HTGR plant lifetime of several decades.

There is an environmental benefit as well. Every 750 MWt of installed HTGR capacity could avoid one million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year when compared to a similarly sized natural gas plant.

The use of HTGR technology in place of natural gas may also free up more of this domestic resource for more productive uses as feedstock for plastics and chemical manufacturing, creating multiples of GDP vs simply burning as fuel.

NGNP studies integrating the HTGR technology with petrochemical processes (e.g., production of ammonium and ammonium products, extraction of nonconventional crude, production of hydrogen). show that the HTGR technology could help reduce GHG emissions when compared with conventional processing.

Further, technical and economic analyses shows that HTGR technology used for co-generation of process heat and electricity is competitive with natural gas as in the $6 to $7 per MM BTU delivered price range.  This means it is competitive today in most of the world where natural gas is tied to oil parity (Europe, Japan, Korea, Middle East, etc) and likely to be in the U.S. in the time frame of its commercialization (2025+).   A  future price for carbon will make this technology even more competitive as it is estimated that for each $10 cost per ton of carbon, that the competitiveness of the HTGR will improve by $0.50 per MM BTU.  A $50 price for carbon, for example, makes the HTGR competitive with natural gas in the $2.50 to $4.50 per MM BTU range for process heat applications.

The NGNP Industry Alliance believes that the key economic drivers that have made HTGR technology of interest to industry are viable to today in most of the world and will continue to be viable in the future. The price of HTGR produced energy is competitive with alternative sources of energy across much of the globe and the Alliance believes it will be competitive in the U.S. at or near it time of commercialization. . Find out more … see

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Underappreciated Answer To Some Of Nuclear’s Woes

 Even the most ardent supporters (this writer included) of nuclear energy recognize that it has some issues. It has a safety perception issue particularly post-Fukushima. Current LWRs (great reactors by the way!) are limited to electric power production and hence limited in their ability to address some of our most fundamental energy problems. In terms of economics, large LWRs are just too expensive for many utilities.

This is the first of a series of short posts on the features and benefits of the High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR). These posts will address a wide variety of topics. Examples include safety, how nuclear can power major industries; nuclear and liquid transportation fuels, the technology and market niches for the design, the potential for exports, a profile of potential users, and the respective roles of industry and government in bringing about commercial success.

Safety – A Break from Convention

Simply put, HTGR design insures that there are no circumstances, including complete abandonment by plant operators, where a harmful release of radioactivity can occur.

How is this possible? The essential features of modern HTGR safety are:

  • extremely robust fuel with multiple ceramic coatings;
  • a reactor core with a limited power level; and
  • fundamental simple physics that shuts the reactor down in abnormal temperature conditions.

Further, HTGR control rod insertion into the core (not essential for public safety and only utilized for power output control) is achieved through automatic gravity-alone insertion.

How the HTGR handles decay heat

So, even if HTGR operators go home and don’t return after an accident, decay heat (the heat that melted the Fukushima and TMI cores), ultimately passes out of the reactor and into the ground without temperatures ever coming close to failing the fuel.

No water, other coolant or external power is required for the reactor to stay safe. It just sits there and gradually cools down.

Importantly, HTGR reactor materials (helium coolant, ceramics and graphite), including the reactor fuel, are chemically compatible and in combination with each cannot react or burn to produce explosive gases like hydrogen (to a public that remembers the images of Fukushima, this has got to be important!).

The helium coolant inside the reactor is chemically inert and cannot burn, cause corrosion, or degrade the fuel or any parts of the reactor.

Spent fuel from an HTGR is stored in casks in underground dry vaults that are cooled by natural circulation of air. No active cooling system is involved. Steel and concrete shielding prevent any release of radiation.

The next blog post in the series will describe the needs of industry for process heat and how an HTGR can meet them.

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NGNP Selects Areva advanced reactor design

An industry consortium is focused on process heat applications

The Next Generation Nuclear Plant Industry Alliance Ltd. (NGNP Industry Alliance) announced this week that it has selected the AREVA Generation IV reactor concept as the optimum design for next generation nuclear plants.  The AREVA design is a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) and would provide a source of nuclear energy with inherent safety features and zero greenhouse gas emissions.

“Commercialization of next-generation nuclear technology is a critical component of securing clean sources of energy for the future,” said Fred Moore, Executive Director of NGNP Industry Alliance.  “HTGR is the game changing technology for clean, safe nuclear energy production.” 

The AREVA HTGR technology’s capability and modular design would support a broad range of market sectors, providing highly-efficient energy to industries such as electrical power generation, petrochemicals, non-conventional oil recovery and synthetic fuel production (see NGNP list of member organizations).

Areva focus on customer requirements

In a simultaneous statement Feb 15, Areva COO Mike Rencheck said the industrial end-use requirements have been the primary consideration for selection of this advanced technology over other small reactors.  He said, “The co-generation aspects offer long-term predictable energy supply.”

In a conference call with nuclear energy bloggers held Friday Feb 17, Areva Chief Technology Officer Finis Southworth explained that the “NGNP Alliance wants a sharper focus on technology for process heat.”

He said that ten years ago the quest for a new design for a high temperature gas cooled reactor (HTGR) has dual objectives – hydrogen production and process heat.  The reasons he said are that existing light water reactor (LWR) designs are not well suited to non-electric energy markets.

Since then R&D has gone down two somewhat separate paths divided by the materials sciences challenges associated with reactor outlet temperature.

For the NGNP Alliance, choice of the Areva design, a reactor outlet temperature of 750C provides sufficient heat to produce conventional steam temperatures of 400-550C for applications like oil refinery distillation and chemical processing.

Southworth said the primary heat is carried from the reactor in a closed loop by helium and the steam is super heated but not super critical.

He added that at temperatures above 750C the materials challenges become more significant and so do the costs. That’s why for now the current technology roadmap, conceptually speaking, uses the lower temperature. (For more details readers are referred to the NGNP Briefings on HTGR Technology)

Competitive advantages of NGNP

Members of the NGNP Alliance, including major petro-chemical manufacturers, are heavily dependent on fossil fuels for process heat. They have three long-term concerns – environment, energy security, and price volatility.

Southworth pointed out that about 20% of U.S. energy consumption goes into process heat applications.  He said that the effect of replacing fossil fuel with nuclear energy, for process heat applications, will make industry products that depend on them more competitive.  The key reasons are reduced regulatory risks in terms of environmental issues, increased dependability in terms of energy supply, and stable pricing of the energy to produce process heat.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, every 750 MWt of installed HTGR capacity will offset 1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions per year when compared to a similarly sized natural gas plant.

History of NGNP
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 called for development, construction, and operation of a prototype HTGR by 2021.  DOE set up a project office at the Idaho National Laboratory that included some of the R&D activities.  Based on and RFP, DOE selected three firms to conduct design and engineering studies – General Atomics, Westinghouse, and Areva.

Both the Idaho lab and the NGNP Alliance determined that the only practical differentiation among the designs is tied to capital costs.  The Alliance said the prismatic design offers a 30% cost savings over one using pebble bed technology.

Next Step – Licensing

The NGNP Alliance is developing a regulatory strategy to identify key issues related to getting a license from the NRC.  Southworth said the combination of licensing and building a first-of-a-kind unit could take 10-12 years to get one operating at a customer site.

He estimates that with start-up schedules, the first customer would be reaping benefits from the technology in the time frame of 2024-2027. it could be sooner depending on the outcomes of design and regulatory processes and actual construction of a first-of-a-kind unit.

Areva envisions that the HTGR will be installed at customer suites in clusters of up to four units.  A key regulatory issue will be whether the NRC will establish a rule that will authorize a single control room to manage multiple units. It all depends on how the agency sees this issue from the perspective of plant safety.

He added the Alliance and the NRC realize there is a need to develop a regulatory framework for some aspects of the technology such as ceramic core components and helium coolant.

“This is part of the open discussion with the NRC,” Southworth said. It is included in the Alliance’s pre-application dialog with the agency.

Fuel Cycle

The fuel for the HTGR uses TRISO fuel particles with 18 month cycles.

“The reactor uses a lot less fuel than a 1000 MW reactor, “Southworth said, and he added, “it’s about three tons compared to 100 tons.”

Spent fuel management will be carried out by putting the spent fuel into dry ground cooling after which it can be sent to a permanent disposal facility.  Unlike a conventional LWR, there is no water in the cooling system nor is there wet storage of spent fuel.

Comparative costs to build and operate one?

Areva told the nuclear bloggers the total cost, including R&D, for the first unit will be about $4 billion, but Southworth said the “nth unit” will have actual construction costs of about $1 billion.  Comparing process heat costs, he added that the “nth of a kind” HTGR will supply process heat at about $6-10/mbtu.

While natural gas prices in the U.S. are unusually low, about $3/mbtu, that isn’t always going to be the case and no one knows what the price will be by 2025.  Natural gas prices are much higher in Europe. Southworth said he’s seeing prices for natural gas in Europe and Asia as high as $12-15/mbtu.

According to a Bloomberg wire service report for 02/17/2012, the day of the nuclear blogger conference call, the price of natural gas in the U.K., which benefits from its North Sea resources, was $9.16/mbtu.  Crude oil rose to $103/barrel, the highest price since May 2011.  It’s clear from these data why energy price stability for chemical firms with 50-year planning horizons for capital projects is so important.

One potential customer, a member of the Alliance, is Dow Chemical.  Southworth noted the firm uses the energy equivalent of one million barrels of oil a day.  It wants to replace oil as the fuel with energy from an HTGR to produce process heat.

Another advantage is that at certain times related to changes in plant production cycles, surplus energy from the NGNP reactor can be converted to electricity, albiet at a 20% higher cost then conventional LWR.  Even so selling this electricity to the grid at market prices will help defray the cost of operations.

Success will be measured in terms of securing long-term energy supply with nuclear energy generated process heat located at the customer site and not from an oil well 8,000 miles away.

It will take some time to get there, but with the announcement this week, the NGNP Alliance says it is on its way.

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