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Fast Reactor Program

The DOE-NE Fast Reactor Program leverages laboratory capabilities, infrastructure, and experience to conduct R&D that supports fast reactor deployment.

The Fast Reactor Program’s mission is to anticipate, confirm, and develop the technical elements needed by industry to enable and sustain successful large-scale commercialization of fast reactors. The program is managed as part of the Department of Energy - Office of Nuclear Energy’s (DOE-NE) Advanced Reactor Technologies (ART) portfolio. The program’s R&D is led by the national laboratories and leverages the capabilities, data, and infrastructure that have been accrued over decades of experience involving the design, construction, and operation of multiple fast reactors and experiments.

Stakeholders have identified two recurring needs for commercial deployment of fast reactors

  • Address technical challenges to reduce capital costs and improve economic competitiveness
  • Provide validated experimental and operational data supporting fast reactor licensing cases

To address these needs, the program focuses on high-priority R&D areas

  • Re-establish the U.S. infrastructure (such as METL) to support the testing of advanced technologies for fast reactor applications
  • Design and develop scalable advanced technologies and options that support fast reactor designers
  • Improve, benchmark, and validate existing fast reactor design and safety analysis codes
  • Preserve and manage data, knowledge, and experience related to past U.S. DOE fast reactor design, operations, tests, and component technology for use in industry design and licensing cases
  • Provide the technical basis for ASME qualification of advanced structural materials for use in fast reactors
  • Collaborate internationally on advanced reactor R&D through bilateral and multilateral agreements
  • Train the next generation engineers and scientists by engaging them in advanced reactor concept design, analyses, and fundamental studies that support fast reactor R&D

R&D is structured into three main technical areas

Technology Development
  • Component Testing and Demonstration using METL, an intermediate-scale sodium loop
  • Information Recovery / Knowledge Preservation

Methods, Modeling, and Validation
  • Fast reactor databases from fuels irradiation and transient testing, reactor safety testing, and component reliability
  • Qualification of legacy data and computational tools
  • Analysis of old/new validation experiments – including test data from international collaborations

Advanced Materials
  • ASME code qualification of modern alloys – Alloy 709
  • Sodium and material compatibility testing