Now is an exciting time for the nuclear industry. Several advanced reactor designers are vying to enter the reactor market with a range of reactor designs, including molten salt reactors, high-temperature gas reactors, sodium fast reactors, and even microreactors. They range in size from a few megawatts to approximately 1 gigawatt, can operate at near atmospheric pressures and ultra-high temperatures, and use non-traditional coolants and fuels. Advanced reactors are also enjoying substantial bipartisan support, as evidenced by recent legislation and authorizations, and demonstrations of selected designs are being pursued DOE, DoD, and NASA. However, in order to help ensure the success of demonstrations and potential future deployments, the existing nuclear fuel cycle must evolve to meet the demands of these diverse designs. In addition, the novel fuel types and enrichments have presented new and unique challenges that need to be addressed. This presentation provides an overview and status of ongoing efforts to meet these needs and summarizes some of the challenges that also need to be addressed.
Christina Leggett is a nuclear engineering consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. In this role, she provides technical expertise to support new program development efforts at DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and manages R&D programs funded under ARPA-E’s nuclear fission portfolio. Prior to joining Booz Allen Hamilton, she worked as a nuclear engineer and program manager for the aqueous separations, pyroprocessing, and molten salt chemistry programs in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Nuclear Energy. She also worked at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for five years as a Nuclear Engineer (criticality reviewer) in the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards and as a Reactor Systems Engineer in the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research. She is an active Executive Committee member of the ANS Fuel Cycle and Waste Management Division, serving as the Program Chair and Awards Committee Chair. Christina holds a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from the University of California-Berkeley and is the author of several papers.