42 U.S. Code § 16272 - Reactor concepts research, development, demonstration, and commercial application

(a) Sustainability program for light water reactors
(1) In generalThe Secretary shall carry out a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application, including through the use of modeling and simulation, to support existing operating nuclear power plants which shall address technologies to modernize and improve, with respect to such plants—
(A)
reliability;
(B)
capacity;
(C)
component aging;
(D)
safety;
(E)
physical security and security costs;
(F)
plant lifetime;
(G)
operations and maintenance costs, including by utilizing risk-informed systems analysis;
(H)
the ability for plants to operate flexibly;
(I)
nuclear integrated energy system applications described in subsection (c);
(J)
efficiency;
(K)
environmental impacts; and
(L)
resilience.
(2) Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out the program under this subsection $55,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2025.

(3) Report

The Secretary shall submit annually a public report to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources of the Senate documenting funds spent under the program that describes program activities, objectives, and outcomes, including those that could benefit the entirety of the existing reactor fleet, such as with respect to aging management and related sustainability concerns, and identifying funds awarded to private entities.

(b) Advanced reactor technologies
(1) In general

The Secretary shall carry out a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application to support advanced reactor technologies.

(2) RequirementsIn carrying out the program under this subsection, the Secretary shall—
(A) prioritize designs for advanced nuclear reactors that are proliferation resistant and passively safe, including designs that, compared to reactors operating on December 27, 2020
(i)
are economically competitive with other electric power generation plants;
(ii)
have higher efficiency, lower cost, less environmental impacts, increased resilience, and improved safety;
(iii)
use fuels that are proliferation resistant and have reduced production of high-level waste per unit of output; and
(iv)
use advanced instrumentation and monitoring systems;
(B)
consult with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on appropriate metrics to consider for the criteria specified in subparagraph (A);
(C) support research and development to resolve materials challenges relating to extreme environments, including environments that contain high levels of—
(i)
radiation fluence;
(ii)
temperature;
(iii)
pressure; and
(iv)
corrosion;
(D)
support research and development to aid in the qualification of advanced fuels, including fabrication techniques;
(E)
support activities that address near-term challenges in modeling and simulation to enable accelerated design of and licensing of advanced nuclear reactors, including the identification of tools and methodologies for validating such modeling and simulation efforts;
(F)
develop technologies, including technologies to manage, reduce, or reuse nuclear waste;
(G) ensure that nuclear research infrastructure is maintained or constructed, including—
(i)
currently operational research reactors at the National Laboratories and institutions of higher education;
(ii)
hot cell research facilities;
(iii)
a versatile fast neutron source; and
(iv)
advanced coolant testing facilities, including coolants such as lead, sodium, gas, and molten salt;
(H)
improve scientific understanding of nonlight water coolant physics and chemistry;
(I)
develop advanced sensors and control systems, including the identification of tools and methodologies for validating such sensors and systems;
(J)
investigate advanced manufacturing and advanced construction techniques and materials to reduce the cost of advanced nuclear reactors, including the use of digital twins and of strategies to implement project and construction management best practices, and study the effects of radiation and corrosion on materials created with these techniques;
(K)
consult with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration to integrate reactor safeguards and security into design;
(L)
support efforts to reduce any technical barriers that would prevent commercial application of advanced nuclear energy systems; and
(M)
develop various safety analyses and emergency preparedness and response methodologies.
(3) Coordination

The Secretary shall coordinate with individuals engaged in the private sector and individuals who are experts in nuclear nonproliferation, environmental and public health and safety, and economics to advance the development of various designs of advanced nuclear reactors. In carrying out this paragraph, the Secretary shall convene an advisory committee of such individuals and such committee shall submit annually a report to the relevant committees of Congress with respect to the progress of the program.

(4) Authorization of appropriations

There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out the program under this subsection $55,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2025.

(c) Nuclear integrated energy systems research, development, demonstration, and commercial application program
(1) In generalThe Secretary shall carry out a program of research, development, demonstration, and commercial application to develop nuclear integrated energy systems, composed of 2 or more co-located or jointly operated subsystems of energy generation, energy storage, or other technologies and in which not less than 1 such subsystem is a nuclear energy system, to—
(A)
reduce greenhouse gas emissions in both the power and nonpower sectors; and
(B)
maximize energy production and efficiency.
(2) CoordinationIn carrying out the program under paragraph (1), the Secretary shall coordinate with—
(A)
relevant program offices within the Department of Energy;
(B)
National Laboratories;
(C)
institutions of higher education; and
(D)
the private sector.
(3) Focus areasThe program under paragraph (1) may include research, development, demonstration, or commercial application of nuclear integrated energy systems with respect to—
(A)
desalination technologies and processes;
(B)
hydrogen or other liquid and gaseous fuel or chemical production;
(C)
heat for industrial processes;
(D)
district heating;
(E)
heat or electricity generation and storage;
(F)
carbon capture, use, utilization, and storage;
(G)
microgrid or island applications;
(H)
integrated systems modeling, analysis, and optimization, inclusive of different configurations of integrated energy systems; and
(I)
integrated design, planning, building, and operation of systems with existing infrastructure, including interconnection requirements with the electric grid, as appropriate.
(4) Authorization of appropriationsThere are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary to carry out the program under this subsection—
(A)
$20,000,000 for fiscal year 2021;
(B)
$30,000,000 for fiscal year 2022;
(C)
$30,000,000 for fiscal year 2023;
(D)
$40,000,000 for fiscal year 2024; and
(E)
$40,000,000 for fiscal year 2025.
Amendments

2020—Pub. L. 116–260 amended section generally. Prior to amendment section related to nuclear energy research programs.

2018—Subsecs. (c) to (e). Pub. L. 115–248 redesignated subsecs. (d) and (e) as (c) and (d), respectively, and struck out former subsec. (c) which related to establishment and administration of a Nuclear Power 2010 Program.