US Department of Energy funds X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor
Nuclear reactor and fuel engineering company X-energy has announced that it will receive USD$6mn in funding from the US Department of Energy (DoE).
Led by a team with a diverse range of experience, including “engineering, policy, government relationships and experience operating large government engineering contracts,” the grant money will go towards developing the company’s Xe-100 reactor.
A design which aims to balance sustainability, reliability, safety and cost-efficient economics, the Xe-100 is optimised to be scalable, flexible and affordable: the O&M (operations and maintenance) cost for the reactor is $2/MWh.
Transforming nuclear energy
X-energy has been creating cutting-edge nuclear systems with a broad appeal since 2009. This has included commercial plants, military operations and astronautics. In total, the company has received over $100mn from DoE, DoD (Department of Defense) and NASA contracts.
Regarding the DoE’s patronage of the project, Clay Sell, CEO of X-energy, claimed that this investment was a significant step forward in the development of nuclear reactor efficiency.
“We are grateful for DOE’s support of X-energy and so pleased to be working with ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) on this incredibly important effort to create transformational, cost-competitive energy technology.
“This will allow us to advance our reactor designs, providing reliable carbon-free baseload power that’s available anywhere, at any time.”
The company will be working on further innovations through the GEMINA project, which will explore robotics, automation, remote maintenance, VR (virtual reality), monitoring and more, in the hopes of developing an enhanced, highly efficient system.
Making use of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), the Xe-100 is a Generation-IV unit which does not require an active cooling system to maintain safety. Powered by ‘TRISO-X fuel pebbles’, it is specially designed to eradicate the risk of a meltdown.
Proof of concept
In addition, the company has also announced that MIT will be using TRISO-X in its research reactor, a mark of confidence in the fuel and an opportunity for X-energy to prove its quality.
"This is an incredible milestone for the X-energy team as we will now have irradiation tested fuel for the first time," said Pete Pappano, PhD, Vice President of Fuel Production at X-energy.
"The project's data will enable licensing for our Xe-100 reactor, the safest, most economic and most advanced design for a small modular nuclear reactor."
Intelliwave SiteSense boosts APTIM material tracking
“We’ve been engaged with the APTIM team since early 2019 providing SiteSense, our mobile construction SaaS solution, for their maintenance and construction projects, allowing them to track materials and equipment, and manage inventory.
We have been working with the APTIM team to standardize material tracking processes and procedures, ultimately with the goal of reducing the amount of time spent looking for materials. Industry studies show that better management of materials can lead to a 16% increase in craft labour productivity.
Everyone knows construction is one of the oldest industries but it’s one of the least tech driven comparatively. About 95% of Engineering and Construction data captured goes unused, 13% of working hours are spent looking for data and around 30% of companies have applications that don’t integrate.
With APTIM, we’re looking at early risk detection, through predictive analysis and forecasting of material constraints, integrating with the ecosystem of software platforms and reporting on real-time data with a ‘field-first’ focus – through initiatives like the Digital Foreman. The APTIM team has seen great wins in the field, utilising bar-code technology, to check in thousands of material items quickly compared to manual methods.
There are three key areas when it comes to successful Materials Management in the software sector – culture, technology, and vendor engagement.
Given the state of world affairs, access to data needs to be off site via the cloud to support remote working conditions, providing a ‘single source of truth’ accessed by many parties; the tech sector is always growing, so companies need faster and more reliable access to this cloud data; digital supply chain initiatives engage vendors a lot earlier in the process to drive collaboration and to engage with their clients, which gives more assurance as there is more emphasis on automating data capture.
It’s been a challenging period with the pandemic, particularly for the supply chain. Look what happened in the Suez Canal – things can suddenly impact material costs and availability, and you really have to be more efficient to survive and succeed. Virtual system access can solve some issues and you need to look at data access in a wider net.
Solving problems comes down to better visibility, and proactively solving issues with vendors and enabling construction teams to execute their work. The biggest cause of delays is not being able to provide teams with what they need.
On average 2% of materials are lost or re-ordered, which only factors in the material cost, what is not captured is the duplicated effort of procurement, vendor and shipping costs, all of which have an environmental impact.
As things start to stabilise, APTIM continues to utilize SiteSense to boost efficiencies and solve productivity issues proactively. Integrating with 3D/4D modelling is just the precipice of what we can do. Access to data can help you firm up bids to win work, to make better cost estimates, and AI and ML are the next phase, providing an eco-system of tools.
A key focus for Intelliwave and APTIM is to increase the availability of data, whether it’s creating a data warehouse for visualisations or increasing integrations to provide additional value. We want to move to a more of an enterprise usage phase – up to now it’s been project based – so more people can access data in real time.