The Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office has awarded BWX Technologies a potential $300 million contract to construct a nuclear microreactor.
BWXT is expected to have the Project Pele full-scale transportable microreactor prototype, the first of its kind in the U.S., ready for the Idaho National Laboratory’s review by 2024, the Lynchburg, Virginia-based company said Thursday.
Joe Miller, president of BWXT’s advanced technologies business, underscored the vital option microreactors present for reducing carbon emissions and providing a less environmentally impactful power source.
“We are thrilled with this competitively bid award after years of hard work by our design and engineering team,” Miller commented.
The project comes from a motivation on the DOD’s part to branch out from energy sources that deplete fossil fuels and utilize vast supply lines. Transportable microreactors are an attractive alternative with their zero-carbon footprint and adaptability to various challenging environments, meeting also the first responders and various organizations’ need for power at remote locations.
A team of 120 BWXT Advanced Technologies personnel will conduct the two years of work under the cost-type contract at production centers in Lynchburg and Euclid, Ohio. They will collaborate with representatives from companies such as Northrop Grumman, Aerojet Rocketdyne, Rolls-Royce LibertyWorks and Torch Technologies on the endeavor.
Given its transportable nature, the microreactor, once built, will be disassembled and mailed separately from its fuel in shipping containers. It is designed to be mobile by air, sea, train or road. Once it arrives at the Idaho National Laboratory, it will be subject to a testing period of three years in order to assess its performance capabilities, reliability and complete functionality. The Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will oversee the evaluation process in conjunction with the SCO.
The SCO contract follows BWXT’s win of $1.04 billion in contract options during the fourth quarter of 2021, which was announced in February. This work will entail the production of components and supply fuel products for the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.