Denver firm designs facility to test Generation IV advanced reactor

Gen4 Energy has completed a conceptual design for a testing facility -- the Natural Circulation Experimental Facility (NCEF) -- which would be able to test a Generation IV advanced reactor, the company said on Wednesday.

The Denver-based company is focused on the development of the Gen4 Module (G4M), an advanced nuclear reactor that features lead bismuth cooling and would produce 25 megawatts of electricity. This amount would be sufficient for small operations and communities in need of electricity. Examples given in the announcement include mining operations, government complexes and small island communities.

The project grew out of a Department of Energy (DOE)  cost-share grant to develop natural circulation designs for advanced nuclear reactors that use a lead bismuth coolant. The DOE chose GEN4, General Electric, Westinghouse and General Atomic in 2013 for the research initiative.

“We believe the compact size and safety of the G4M provides DOE with a foundational building block for advanced-reactor licensing and early deployment,” Gen4 Energy President and CEO Bob Prince said. “Early deployment leverages DOE’s current investment in advanced-reactor technology and delivers earlier to market, speeds cost recovery, attracts investors and generates commensurate savings in development costs.”

The NCEF is part of a five-year plan submitted in 2014 to the DOE to complete necessary thermal hydraulic testing and model validation. This plan indicates that if all requirements are met in the time frame established, a licensed reactor prototype could be developed by 2030.

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