June 30, 2017
News Release

Company Designing Next Generation Reactor Gets Assistance from PNNL

Lab will help guide quest for regulatory approval of design


PNNL scientists hosted leaders of the GAIN Initiative at the Radiochemical Processing Laboratory in June. DOE's Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear — or GAIN — initiative was created to make experts and technical resources such as those at PNNL and other DOE national laboratories available to small companies developing advanced nuclear technologies.

Columbia Basin Consulting Group, based in Kennewick, Wash., is developing a lead bismuth-cooled fast reactor concept. With new funding from the Department of Energy, they will draw on nearby Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's extensive experience working with liquid metal-cooled fast reactors as well as its knowledge of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's licensing processes.

DOE's Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear — or GAIN — voucher program provides advanced nuclear technology innovators with access to the extensive nuclear research capabilities and expertise available across the DOE national laboratories.

PNNL will provide technical guidance to CBCG, which was selected along with 13 other small businesses, to receive vouchers worth a total of approximately $4.2 million to accelerate innovation in advanced nuclear reactor technologies. This is the second year of the voucher funding. CBCG and PNNL successfully partnered in a similar project supporting CBCG's lead-bismuth initiative in the first round of funding last year.

This project focuses on developing criteria for the design of reactor containment structures. Unlike the current fleet of reactors that operate a high pressures, , the lead bismuth cooled fast reactor being developed by CBCG would operate at near atmospheric pressure and has many additional inherent safety features. Therefore, the regulatory criteria for containment buildings associated with the current reactor fleet may not be appropriate for this new design. PNNL is helping CBCG conduct analyses for consideration by the NRC as the agency develops regulatory infrastructure for the licensing of the next generation of reactors.

Read more about the GAIN voucher program.

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory draws on its distinguishing strengths in chemistry, Earth sciences, biology and data science to advance scientific knowledge and address challenges in sustainable energy and national security. Founded in 1965, PNNL is operated by Battelle for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science. For more information on PNNL, visit PNNL's News Center. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Published: June 30, 2017