A third company with roots in the Tri-Cities Research District (TCRD) is engaged in cutting edge nuclear reactor technologies. Areva-Framatome, the French multi-national nuclear fuel producer that operates a nuclear fuel plant adjacent to the TCRD and Georgia-based General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems announced a collaboration to develop a new helium-cooled, 50 MWe small modular reactor. The reactor could be constructed by 2030 with commercialization of the design by mid-2030.
The new design will use non-hazardous helium coolant – a chemically-inert gas that is non-explosive, non-corrosive and does not become activated. Because the reactor is dry-cooled and uses virtually no water to operate, it can be sited nearly anywhere. The power conversion forgoes the use of complex steam generators and the fuel operates for approximately nine years before requiring replacement.