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New nuclear power plants will integrate several industrial processes into one plant

One of the most controversial types of energy production in the world is nuclear power. Advocates like to point out that the power produced by the process introduces much less emissions into the atmosphere than conventional coal power plants produce. Those who oppose nuclear power point out that the process produces radioactive waste and a major meltdown, however unlikely, could occur.

The Department of Energy (DOE) has announced today that it has up to $40 million in funding available to support the design and planning of a Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). The new nuclear plants would use high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor technologies to integrate multiple industrial applications into one plant. These NGNP would make electricity like current nuclear plants do, plus they would integrate other industrial processes into the same plant. Other industrial processes could include refining petroleum and producing hydrogen.

"Support for new developments in nuclear technologies will be critical to meeting our energy, climate and security goals for years to come," said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu. "Next Generation Nuclear Plants hold the promise of safe, cost-effective, zero-emissions energy for major U.S. industries that are some of the largest energy consumers in the country. By integrating multiple industrial processes, this next generation technology will offset imported fossil fuels, reduce pollution, and create tens of thousands of quality jobs in industries across America."

According to statistics, about 40% of the greenhouse gas produced in America comes from industrial processes in high-energy consuming sectors. The NGNP plants would allow heat or steam generated by the nuclear reactors to drive turbines; these turbines could in turn serve other purposes like manufacturing plastic components from raw materials. The same technology could also be used to produce ammonia for fertilizer.

The $40 million funding announcement made today will support phase one activities including the development of cost-shared conceptual designs, cost and schedule estimates and a business plan for integrating Phase 2 activities. The data gathered in Phase 1 will be used to determine if Phase 2 should continue. Applications for receiving funds from the $40 million are due by November 16 and the DOE expects to make two awards in February 2010 with each supporting a unique reactor concept.

A demonstration plant is expected to be produced by 2021.





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