Doosan Heavy joins X-energy's development of high temperature gas-cooled reactor

By Lim Chang-won Posted : September 1, 2021, 12:53 Updated : September 1, 2021, 12:53

[Courtesy of Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction]

SEOUL -- Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction, a key contractor in South Korea's nuclear power industry, has sealed a contract with X-energy, an American small modular reactor company, to participate in the development of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor that uses helium gas as a coolant instead of water.

Under an engineering service agreement with X-energy, Doosan Heavy said it would support designing a small modular reactor (SMR) by performing a study for optimum design and conducting mock-up tests for critical manufacturing processes.

X-energy is developing a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) called "Xe-100" with a generation capacity of 320-megawatt electrical (MWe) using tristructural isotropic (TRISO) particle fuel. Because TRISO enables a high-temperature output in advanced reactor designs, it could potentially boost the use of nuclear energy beyond electricity generation into energy sectors.

SMRs have been studied to address the limitations of traditional light-water reactors using low-enriched uranium that cost a lot to replace nuclear fuel and require a vast emergency evacuation zone, nonproliferation and waste management. Small reactors designed with modular technology allow for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency, and enhanced safety.

In October 2020, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected TerraPower and X-energy to each receive $80 million in initial federal funding under an advanced reactor demonstration program. DOE would invest a total of $1.23 billion in X-energy’s project for seven years.

Doosan Heavy's nuclear business division head Na Ki-yong said that the deal with X-energy would help Doosan Heavy diversity its SMR business. In 2019, Doosan Heavy and South Korean investors made a $44 million equity investment in NuScale Power, an American SMR company, followed by an additional $60 million in July this year. Doosan Heavy would join the construction of NuScale's SMR and supply reactor modules, a key instrument for the power plant under development for Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems.

Doosan Heavy received an order for a manufacturability review service from NuScale in 2019 and completed it in January 2021. NuScale, based in Portland, Oregon, designs and markets SMRs, based on a safer, smaller, and scalable version of pressurized water reactor technology. With NuScale's scalable design, a power plant can house up to 12 individual power modules.

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