INL microreactor project available for comment out
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced Monday the start of a 31-day public review period for a final environmental assessment for a proposal to build the Microreactor Applications Research Validation & Evaluation (MARVEL) at the testing facility for transient reactors at Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
MARVEL, a sodium-potassium cooled, thermal microreactor with an output of less than 100 kilowatts of electricity that uses high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU), will be able to test power applications such as load-dependent electricity demand to the intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and sun – for a reliable energy supply around the clock. The use of nuclear energy for water purification, hydrogen production and heat for chemical processing will also be tested.
From January 11 to February 9, 2021, the DOE conducted a public review and comment phase on the draft environmental assessment of the project. Comments received during this public review period, along with the Agency’s relevant responses, will be published in the “Responses to Public Comments” section of the Final Environmental Review published today. DOE invites the public to comment on a proposed outcome that has no significant impact on the project.
“Nuclear power has always been a reliable source of energy that does not emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said INL Director John Wagner when the draft environmental assessment was submitted for public review on Jan. 11 for quick, small-scale demonstrations of several green technologies in conjunction with advanced microreactors as well as larger reactors that will benefit the nuclear industry and energy consumers. ”
Since the first usable amount of electricity from nuclear energy was demonstrated in the Experimental Breeder Reactor-I in Idaho in 1951, nuclear energy has played an essential role in US electricity generation. Nuclear power now generates nearly 20% of the nation’s electricity and about 55% of the carbon-free electricity in the US. This electricity is generated by large light water reactors, each generating hundreds and sometimes thousands of megawatts of electricity, with each megawatt being sufficient to power about 1,000 households.
The international interest in microreactors is now growing: very small, factory-built, transportable reactors. Microreactors can be used in remote communities, industrial sites, and defense bases, as well as for applications such as backup generation for power plants, humanitarian aid, water treatment, hydrogen production, and disaster relief. Just like large traditional reactors, microreactors use fission to produce energy with no CO2 emissions.
The DOE Microreactor Program supports research and development (R&D) of microreactor technologies. The INL-led program conducts both fundamental and applied research and development to reduce the risks associated with new technology performance and microreactor manufacturing readiness. This is to ensure that microreactor concepts can be commercially licensed and used and that US leadership in nuclear energy is revitalized.
MARVEL will be an important step forward in enabling industrial partners to test new microreactor-related technologies and provide real, visual examples of how commercial end-users could incorporate microreactors into their clean energy portfolio. The final environmental assessment and proposed result without significant impact, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, will be posted HERE and HERE for public review.
Comments on the proposed outcome without significant impact can be mailed to Garrett Kropp, 1955 Fremont Ave., 83415-1222, or emailed to [email protected] Paper copies of the document are available upon request.
The 31-day public review period ends on July 8, 2021.