Russia’s war in Ukraine has had massive impacts on global energy markets. In Europe, governments are implementing energy rationing policies to avoid blackouts this winter. Citizens in the U.K. are publicly burning their utility bills to protest high energy prices and costs of living. Consumers in the United States can expect to pay as much as 28% more for home heating this winter as backlogged supply chains exacerbate natural gas shortages.
In the midst of these energy challenges, the private sector is stepping up to deliver reliable and affordable energy for the future. One such company is Rockville, Maryland-based X-energy which creates advanced nuclear reactors and fuel.
Last week the company announced that it would build a $300 million commercial advanced fuel facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The plant will be the first of its kind and will manufacture X-energy’s patented TRISO-X fuel to power advanced nuclear reactors. It will come online in 2025, creating more than 400 jobs.
Last year, C3 interviewed X-energy CEO Clay Sell on his company and what innovations they are creating. While most advanced nuclear companies focus exclusively on reactor design, X-energy has differentiated itself by creating advanced nuclear fuel in addition to reactors.
The TRISO-X fuel uses uranium that has been enriched to 15.5% and is encapsulated in a graphite ceramic ball. By using graphite ceramics, which don’t melt at any temperature scenario that would be seen in a reactor, X-energy ensures that 99.9% of the waste produced during burnup is retained in the fuel form.
Additionally, the company has created a modular reactor called the Xe-100. One module produces 80 megawatts of electricity. In commercial applications, X-energy sells these modules in packs of four, producing 320 megawatts—enough to power roughly 300,000 American homes. The small size of the reactor gives X-energy flexibility to install the Xe-100 in rural areas in a faster, more economical way versus larger reactors.
The economy or the climate? Why not both?
Subscribe for ideas that support the environment and the people.
Earlier this year X-energy announced that it would be teaming up with Dow Chemical to deploy one of its Xe-100 reactors to one of Dow’s Gulf Coast sites by 2030. On the partnership, Dow CEO Jim Fitterling said, “X-energy’s technology is among the most advanced, and when deployed will deliver safe, reliable, low-carbon power and steam. This is a great opportunity for Dow to lead our industry in carbon neutral manufacturing by deploying next-generation nuclear energy.”
With clean, affordable, and reliable energy being in high demand, X-energy’s announcement shows that the private sector is committed to delivering the solutions that consumers want and need. Through energy innovation such as this, companies like X-energy are bolstering American energy security in an economically and environmentally feasible way.