X-Energy and a unit of Southern Nuclear Operating Company have signed a memorandum of understanding for commercializing and deploying high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), the Xe-100 that could help revitalize the nuclear power industry due to the reactor’s size and relative affordability.
X-energy is developing a helium-cooled HTGR that operates at 125MWth and produces approximately 48MWe, a fraction of the power of a standard-sized commercial nuclear reactor currently operating in the United States. It is touted as “ultra-safe, small-sale, compact, versatile and able to respond in real-time to fluctuating grid demands,” according to a promotional Web site.
The company, which is based in Greenbelt, Md., estimates there are more than 240 potential locations for Xe-100 reactors in the U.S. market that represent 3,600 reactors – (180 Gwe market for their 50 MWe reactors). It has also been noted for its readiness for licensing, relative to other small reactor, and its meltdown-proof design, which allows it to be deployed in closer proximity to markets than other reactors. Early estimates also say construction time is reduced by an estimated 20 percent to 40 percent compared to light water reactors.
X-Energy CEO Dr Kam Ghaffarian said: “We are thrilled to have Southern Nuclear involved with our project. “I founded X-energy in 2009 out of a desire to make a significant and lasting contribution to clean energy generation in the US and around the world. This relationship firmly puts us on that path.”