This bill directs the Dept. of Energy (DOE) to prioritize research and development (R&D) into advanced nuclear reactor technologies by reshaping the objectives of civilian DOE research programs. A greater emphasis would be placed on the following:
Providing research infrastructure to promote scientific progress and enable users from academic, the National Laboratories, and the private sector to make scientific discoveries related to nuclear, chemical, and materials science engineering;
Enabling the private sector to partner with the National Laboratories to demonstrate novel reactor concepts for the purpose of resolving technical uncertainty associated with program objectives.
The DOE would be directed to carry out a program to enhance the U.S. capability to develop new reactor technologies through high-performance computation modeling and simulation techniques. This program would coordinate with relevant federal agencies through the National Strategic Computing Initiative while taking into account objectives established by this legislation.
By December 31, 2016 the DOE would determine the mission need for a versatile reactor-based fast neutron source that operates as a national user facility. After DOE determines whether there is such a mission need, it would provide Congress with a plan to establish such a facility.
Additionally, the DOE would carry out a program to:
Enable the testing and demonstration of reactor concepts proposed and funded by the private sector;
Leverage the technical expertise of relevant federal agencies and national laboratories to minimize the time needed to build and operate privately funded experimental reactors at national laboratories or other DOE-owned sites.
Privately funded experimental reactors operated at national laboratories or DOE-owned sites would operate in order to:
Enable physical validation of novel reactor concepts;
Resolve technical uncertainty and increase practical knowledge relevant to safety, resilience, security, and functionality of first-of-a-kind reactor concepts;
Generate research and development to improve nascent technologies.
Within 12 months of this legislation’s enactment, DOE must provide Congress with 3 specified alternative 10-year budget plans for civilian nuclear energy R&D by the DOE.