The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched the National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC). The facility will provide private sector developers access to US national laboratory assets and infrastructure to support the testing and demonstration of reactor concepts and assess their performance, helping accelerate licensing and commercialisation.INLs' Materials and Fuels Complex has been earmarked as a possible site for the VTR (Image: INL)
The NRIC is established under the provisions of the 2018 Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (NEICA), which directs DOE to facilitate the siting of advanced reactor research demonstration facilities through partnerships between the department and private industry.
"NRIC will enable the demonstration and deployment of advanced reactors that will define the future of nuclear energy," US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said. "By bringing industry together with our national labs and university partners, we can enhance our energy independence and position the US as a global leader in advanced nuclear innovation."
Located at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the centre develops the DOE's Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear initiative which connects industry with the US national laboratories to accelerate the development and commercialisation of advanced nuclear technologies. NRIC will provide support as developers move to the later stages of commercialisation, coordinating with industry, federal institutions, national laboratories and universities on testing and developing concepts.
NEICA also directed the DOE to develop a reactor-based fast neutron source for the testing of advanced reactor fuels and materials. The DOE formally launched the Versatile Test Reactor project earlier this year, and recently announced the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for a project to build a reactor using GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's integral sodium-cooled fast reactor PRISM technology at INL. A site at Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been named as an alternative.