Release
Immediate Release

DoD Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Project Pele Mobile Microreactor

Sept. 24, 2021

The Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office released a draft environmental impact statement for building and demonstrating a mobile microreactor.

In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the SCO published a notice of availability in the Federal Register, starting a 45-day public comment period on the draft EIS. Two public hearings will be held in Idaho and livestreamed online on Oct. 20. More details about the public hearings and the draft EIS are available online at https://www.MobileMicroReactorEIS.com. The public is invited to submit written comments through the website during the public comment period. A final EIS and record of decision regarding potential construction and testing are expected in early 2022.

In March 2021, the SCO announced that it had narrowed the continued design of the mobile microreactor concepts to two firms that would proceed to final design. The announcement indicated that the DoD exercised contract options for two teams — BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC in Lynchburg, Virginia; and X-energy LLC in Greenbelt, Maryland — to proceed with development of a final design for a transportable advanced nuclear microreactor prototype. The two teams were selected from a preliminary design competition, and each continues development independently under an SCO initiative called Project Pele. After a final design review in early 2022 and completion of environmental analysis under NEPA, one of the two companies may be selected to build and demonstrate a prototype.

“Project Pele has been blessed with an extraordinarily skilled NEPA technical support team at the Department of Energy and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Jeff Waksman, Project Pele program manager. “SCO also appreciates the ongoing consultations with state, local and tribal stakeholders about the project, in particular those with the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, who have provided valuable insights to SCO’s team about the region’s deep cultural heritage and strong historical ties to the land.”

The DoD uses approximately 30 terawatt-hours of electricity per year and more than 10 million gallons of fuel per day — levels that are only expected to increase due to anticipated electrification of the non-tactical vehicle fleet and maturation of future energy-intensive capabilities. A safe, small, transportable nuclear reactor would address this growing demand with a resilient, carbon-free energy source that would not add to the DoD’s fuel needs, while supporting mission-critical operations in remote and austere environments. Project Pele is a fourth-generation nuclear reactor which, once prototyped, could serve as a pathfinder for commercial adoption of such technologies, thereby reducing the nation’s carbon emissions and providing new tools for disaster relief and critical infrastructure support.

The prototype reactor will be designed to deliver one to five megawatts of electrical power for at least three years of operation at full power. To enable rapid transport and use, it will be designed to operate within three days of delivery and can be safely removed in as few as seven days.

Project Pele is a whole-of-government effort, with critical expertise provided by the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

“Production of a full-scale fourth-generation nuclear reactor will have significant geopolitical implications for the United States,” said Jay Dryer, SCO Director. “The DoD has led American innovation many times in the past, and Project Pele offers a unique opportunity to advance both energy resilience and carbon emission reductions, while shaping improved safety and nonproliferation standards for advanced reactors around the world.”