Armed Forces News

GAO illustration.

The Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office is moving ahead with a plan to design, build and demonstrate a mobile nuclear reactor. Once the so-called Project Pele is complete, the reactor will be capable of delivering one to five megawatts of electrical power for three years. Assembly will take place at the Idaho National Laboratory, and would be the first Generation IV reactor built in the U.S.

“Advanced nuclear power has the potential to be a strategic game-changer for the United States, both for the DoD [Defense Department] and for the commercial sector. For it to be adopted, it must first be successfully demonstrated under real world operating conditions,” said Dr. Jeff Wellman, Project Pele program manager.

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The Department of Energy, NASA, the National Nuclear Security Administration and Army Corps of Engineers are collaborating with the Strategic Capabilities Office, DoD’s lead agency, on the project.

Once the new reactor is functional, it could significantly supplement the armed forces’ increasing need for energy. The Defense Department uses roughly 30 terawatt-hours of electricity annually. Daily fuel consumption exceeds 10 million gallons. Additionally, the expected increase in the number of electrically powered vehicles in the non-tactical fleet would need a source of power.

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