Dow and advanced nuclear energy company X-energy are bringing a next-generation nuclear demonstration project to Dow’s UCC Seadrift Operations manufacturing site on the Texas Gulf Coast. The announcement is a groundbreaking step toward bringing more advanced nuclear power to the market.
The X-energy Xe-100 small modular reactor (SMR) will provide the Seadrift site with safe, reliable, zero carbon emissions power and heat as existing energy and steam assets are set to expire, Dow said in a press release. The Seadrift site encompasses 4,700 acres and manufactures more than 4 billion pounds of materials annually used across a wide variety of applications including food packaging and preservation, footwear, wire and cable insulation, solar cell membranes, and packaging for medical and pharmaceutical products. The site currently relies on gas-fired combustion and steam turbines for the majority of its energy.
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The project will reduce the Seadrift site’s emissions by approximately 440,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to removing more than 97,000 cars from the road. X-energy’s Xe-100 nuclear reactor will be among the first operational grid-scale reactor plants in the continent, according to the announcement.
“X-energy will deliver our innovative technology to the Texas Gulf Coast to efficiently and reliably decarbonize the Seadrift Site’s heat and power assets,” X-energy CEO Clay Sell said. “We will showcase the unique versatility and wide range of applications of the Xe-100 advanced small modular nuclear reactor for energy production and manufacturing. This project will serve as a model for how we can decarbonize processes to create the products relied upon by people all over the world.”
X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor is a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor featuring four 80 MWe electric units that can operate individually or be scaled into a four-pack 320 MWe power plant. In 2020, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) awarded X-energy $80 million to develop, license, build, and demonstrate the technology. Dow was named a sub-awardee under the program.
Dow and X-Energy signed a joint development agreement earlier this year to deploy the four-unit Xe-100 facility at one of Dow’s U.S. Gulf Coast sites by 2030. The agreement includes up to $50 million in funding, up to half of which is eligible through ARDP, and the other half by Dow.
Finalization of the site selection process now paves the way for the two companies to prepare and submit a Part 50 construction permit application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Construction on the four-reactor plant is expected to begin in 2026 and finish by the end of the decade.
“Advanced nuclear has attractive advantages over other sources of clean power, including a compact footprint, competitive cost, and enhanced power and steam reliability,” Dow Chairman and CEO Jim Fitterling said.
“The Seadrift site plays an important role in further advancing Dow’s sustainability goals, as evidenced by our increasing growth and investment at the site. We are excited to have the support of our local community, the DOE, and State of Texas as we progress on this important project,” Fitterling added.
X-energy’s other advanced technology includes the Xe-Mobile, a “factory-built and fueled mobile micro reactor for remote locations and micro-grids,” and TRISO-X: a proprietary TRi-structural ISOtropic particle fuel (TRISO). The DOE considers TRISO particles “the most robust nuclear fuel on Earth” due to their ability to withstand extreme temperatures inside a nuclear reactor.
With broad public support for advanced nuclear power and support through public-private partnerships, innovative companies like X-energy are paving the way for a brighter, cleaner future.