High-tech controls needed for next generation nuclear plant


By July 14, 2006, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wants expressions of interest from prospective industry teams interested in participating in the development and conceptual design for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP), a very high temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactor prototype able to produce process heat, electricity and/or hydrogen. The very high temperature reactor is based on research and development activities supported by DOE’s Generation IV nuclear energy systems initiative, and likely will include leading-edge control engineering automation technologies including controllers, instrumentation, networks, and software.

“Proceeding with a request for expressions of interest is an important first step in bringing industry into the development of the NGNP,” says Dennis Spurgeon, DOE assistant secretary for nuclear energy in a DOE statement. “My objective would be to establish a public-private partnership to complete the development of the technology and to do so early, allowing the technology to be available for commercial scale deployment on a timeframe consistent with the Energy Policy Act of 2005.”

Expressions of interest are due to the Idaho National Laboratory by July 14. They will be used to identify potential candidates to receive formal requests for proposal later this year for the project’s pre-conceptual design work, DOE says. Pre-conceptual design of NGNP, consistent with the Phase I activities under EPACT 2005, would be directed at focusing the technical scope and priorities of research and development activities for the NGNP and on providing the basis to develop technical and functional specifications for the prototype plant. Consistent with EPACT, DOE would complete the design and construction of a prototype plant at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory, the lead laboratory for development of the NGNP, by 2021.

Click here to find the request for expressions of interest and information concerning how to respond, posted under the heading, Idaho National Laboratory.

Click here for more about DOE’s nuclear energy programs.

--Edited by Mark T. Hoske , Control Engineering editor in chief

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