GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy of Wilmington announced Monday it is teaming up with Alabama-based Southern Nuclear to further develop reactor technology that would take used fuel and convert it to clean energy.
The two have agreed to collaborate in the research, development and licensing of advanced reactors including GEH’s PRISM sodium-cooled fast reactor design.
GEH and Southern Nuclear Development have also agreed to work together on future U.S. Department of Energy advanced reactor licensing projects.
“Southern Nuclear’s operational experience, technical expertise and leadership in innovation are significant strengths that will benefit our work together to support the commercialization of advanced nuclear reactor technology,” said Jay Wileman, president and CEO of GEH, in a news release. “With a design that can extract energy from used nuclear fuel to generate electricity, our PRISM advanced reactor technology is a game-changer.”
PRISM stands for Power Reactor Innovative Small Module.
The PRISM sodium-cooled fast reactor, currently still in development and years from actual energy production, is capable of consuming spent nuclear fuel and unused plutonium to produce large amounts of clean, low-carbon electricity. The PRISM could reduce the volume of used nuclear fuel in storage in the United States by 96 percent -- and supply 10 percent of the nation's electricity in the process, according to GEH.
In addition, by using PRISM technology on a commercialized basis, GEH stated, all the world’s used fuel could eventually be consumed while at the same time providing enough clean, carbon-free energy to power all global households for as long as 200 years.
“The relationship with GE Hitachi is an exciting step on our continued journey towards maintaining nuclear energy’s key position in providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy for future generations,” said Stephen Kuczynski, president and CEO of Southern Nuclear, in a news release. “We are fully committed to moving the industry forward, and by pursuing this goal together, we are best able to leverage our combined strengths in research and commercial operations to bring advanced nuclear technology to market.”
GEH believes that no U.S. fast spectrum reactor technology has more testing, design or operational experience than PRISM. On this basis, GEH stated that “PRISM seems well positioned to continue the licensing process and to generally provide a critical regulatory path for licensing of other advanced reactor technology in the U.S.”
Southern Nuclear is based in Birmingham, Alabama and is a division of Southern Co., which is headquartered in Atlanta.
Correction: This version corrects the headquarters location for Southern Co.