S. Himmelstein | June 24, 2022

First US microreactor now under construction The transportable microreactor will operate at a power level up to 5 MWe. Source: BWX Technologies Inc.

A contract awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Strategic Capabilities Office gives the green light for construction of the first advanced nuclear microreactor in the U.S. BWX Technologies Inc. will build the transportable microreactor for DoD use and for such commercial applications as disaster response and recovery, power generation at remote locations, and decarbonization initiatives.

The high-temperature gas-cooled reactor commissioned under Project Pele will operate at a power level up to 5 MWe and will be transported as multiple modules in commercially available shipping containers. The system will be powered by tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) particle fuel a type of high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel designed to withstand extreme heat.

The microreactor is designed to be assembled on-site and operational within 72 hours, and shut down, cool down, disconnection and removal for transport is expected to require less than seven days.

When delivered to the U.S. Idaho National Laboratory in 2024, the reactor will undergo three years of testing to confirm performance and demonstrate generation of reliable off-grid electric power.