TVA, University of Tennessee sign MOU on advance nuclear reactor demonstration

The University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority have signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate the development of a new generation of cost-effective, advanced nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors, at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site in Roane County, TVA reported on April 7.

TVA has not made a decision to build and would first need approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a specific design.

The partnership allows collaboration and evaluation of the economic feasibility of potentially operating light-water or non-light water fission reactors that build on the success of the current generation of reactors by leveraging the expertise of UT’s nuclear engineering department. “This partnership also provides a unique opportunity to engage with students and prepare the nuclear workforce of the future,” TVA said.

TVA signed a similar agreement with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in February 2020 to explore advanced reactor designs as a next-generation nuclear technology with potential for improved safety and increased flexibility.

TVA noted that it is the only utility in the nation with an approved early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to potentially build SMRs. These partnerships are important steps in the early stages of evaluation as TVA considers the prospect of new nuclear, it said.

UAMPS pursues SMRs

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) is also pursuing SMRs.

Members of UAMPS last summer executed power sales contracts totaling more than 150 megawatts of subscription in a 12-module SMR that will be built at the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory under UAMPS’ Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP).

UAMPS said that reaching this subscription level triggered continued work and evaluation of the project, including increased focus on site characterization and preparation of a Combined License Application (COLA) for submittal to the NRC.