Atomic Show #248 – Dr. Pete Pappano, VP Fuel Production X-Energy

On Thursday, November 19, 2015, I interviewed Dr. Pete Pappano, vice president of fuel development for X-Energy. As described in X-Energy introduced its company and first product to Virginia chapter of ANS, X-Energy is a start-up company based in Maryland that is developing a modular high temperature gas cooled reactor.

Each module will produce 50 MWe using a helium-cooled, high temperature reactor. The reactor thermal power output and geometric configuration have been selected to ensure that the highest temperature in the hottest part of the core under all postulated accident conditions will remain below 1600 degrees C. If the modeled scenarios can be validated, and if they are determined to be challenging enough to encompass the worst credible conditions, the reactor may be considered passively safe.

Xe-100 side view

Xe-100 side view

The enabling technology is the highly refined TRISO fuel particle. That fuel, first developed in the early 1960s, has been steadily improved and rigorously tested, most recently as part of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project. X-Energy plans to leverage the work done as part of the NGNP as it develops its own design and licensing strategy.

X-Energy fuel form

X-Energy fuel form

Dr. Pappano and I talked about fuel performance, the overall reactor design, and some additional safety considerations. We also talked about whether or not a small pebble bed reactor using fuel consisting of TRISO particles compacted into spherical elements would need a containment as part of a defense-in-depth strategy.

I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Play

X-Energy introduced its company and first product to Virginia chapter of ANS

On Tuesday, October 27, three leaders from X-Energy spoke to the Virginia ANS chapter about their company and the Xe-100, the high temperature, pebble bed gas reactor power system that they are designing. During the presentation, meeting attendees learned that X-Energy is an early phase start-up with a total staff of a few dozen people, […]

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Using portable nuclear generators to break petroleum logistical dependence circa 1963

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Advances in high temperature nuclear reactor fuel – TRISO integrity at 1800 C!

The Idaho National Laboratory released the following exciting news on September 25, 2013. IDAHO FALLS — A safer and more efficient nuclear fuel is on the horizon. A team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have reached a new milestone with tristructural-isotropic (TRISO) […]

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Pebble bed reactor safety demonstration test – ABC video from 2007

I spent about 15 years trying (unsuccessfully) to get a small modular reactor company off the ground. Our concept was based on an adaptation of the successful German pebble bed demonstration reactor called the AVR. In 2003, Tsinghua University in China completed the construction of the HTR-10, which was essentially a direct copy of the […]

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