Southern Co. won up to $40 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to explore, develop and demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor technologies through unit Southern Co. Services.
The effort will be managed through a new public-private partnership with TerraPower, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute and Vanderbilt University. Housed at the DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the research will bolster the development of molten chloride fast reactors, an advanced concept for nuclear power generation.
Researchers believe MCFRs could provide enhanced operational performance, safety, security and economic value, relative to other advanced reactor concepts. The MCFR project is one of two DOE cost-shared advanced reactor concept development projects awarded $6 million in 2016, with an opportunity for $40 million each in total funding over multiple years.
"In order to ensure that nuclear energy remains a key source for U.S. electricity generation well into the future, it is critically important that we invest in these technologies today," said Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz. "Public-private partnerships to develop advanced nuclear capabilities will enable low-carbon nuclear energy to power America for years to come."
Southern Co. has managed about $2 billion in research and development investments since the 1960s, leading to the development and deployment of new technologies that are changing the way America produces electricity. In addition to leading the MCFR effort, Southern Co. operates the DOE's National Carbon Capture Center in Alabama, and the company is conducting the nation's largest demonstration of carbon capture on a pulverized-coal power plant at subsidiary Alabama Power's Plant Barry.