ORNL and TVA to collaborate on advanced reactor technologies

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) have signed an agreement to explore a new generation of flexible, cost effective advanced nuclear reactors. According to the agreement, the two organizations will work to boost the economic feasibility of possibly licensing, building, operating, and maintaining one or more advanced nuclear reactors, such as a small modular reactor.

These reactors offer the potential for lower-cost, carbon-free energy due to shorter construction times and increased operational flexibility. Recently, federal regulators approved an early site permit for TVA’s small modular reactor capable of generating 800 megawatts on the Clinch River in Oak Ridge.

This partnership continues decades of collaboration between ORNL and TVA. Speaking about this new partnership, TVA President and CEO Jeff Lyash remarked that it “supports TVA’s mission for innovation and will allow us to better explore potential future nuclear technologies that benefit the 10 million people across seven states and help lead nuclear energy’s future in the United States.” 

ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia emphasized that nuclear energy has long been a “key component” of the country’s energy portfolio and that “growing demand for emission-free electricity requires that we innovate to ensure safe, affordable and efficient nuclear power for generations to come.”

According to the memorandum of understanding, specific areas of importance that will be evaluated by the two entities include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of advanced construction techniques
  • Evaluation of integrated development activities for site infrastructure support
  • Development of various economic deployment catalysts
  • Innovation of advanced manufacturing technologies
  • Use of technology deployment to meet regulatory and safety requirements more efficiently

TAEBC champions advanced energy as a job creation and economic development strategy in Tennessee. This collaboration allows both organizations to help nuclear generation play a stronger role in providing clean, reliable energy for TVA’s customers.