February 19, 2021
The next advanced power reactor to be built in North America will likely be designed by X-Energy, LLC. Founded in 2009 by Kam Ghaffarian, X-Energy focuses upon high temperature gas-cooled reactor design featuring TRISO-coated particle fuel. The lower power density and robust fuel form make a properly designed HTGR impervious to a loss of forced cooling while the high temperature of the helium exiting the core can be used for efficient electricity production or process heat applications. Ghaffarian leveraged his own considerable investment in the company to win a number of HTGR and TRISO fuel technology development awards from the US Department of Energy. X-Energy operates a pilot scale TRISO fuel fabrication and testing laboratory at Oak Ridge National Lab and has entered into a partnership with Global Nuclear Fuel to set up a production line in North Carolina. In 2019, X-Energy was one of three companies to win a contract from the Department of Defense to design a mobile nuclear power plant for remote defense applications. Last year, X-Energy was one of two companies selected for participation in DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program and is on schedule to deploy their Xe-100 at Energy Northwest’s site in eastern Washington state by 2008. In this talk, Gougar will discuss X-Energy’s technology and business ventures in next generation nuclear energy.
Hans Gougar has been engaged in advanced reactor research and development since 1998 when he joined the Idaho National Laboratory and began work as a core safety analyst on the Advanced Test Reactor. Shortly thereafter he joined a team of INL engineers working on high temperature gas-cooled reactor technology including fuel, materials, and reactor simulation methods development and validation. While serving as manager of Fission and Fusion Systems department at INL, Gougar developed a method for simulating and optimizing of pebble bed reactors with moving fuel; earning Gougar a PhD from Penn State in 2004. In 2008, Gougar took a leave of absence from INL to work as a consultant on the PBMR project in South Africa. He returned to INL in 2009 as Deputy Technical Director of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant project, continuing his work in the development of HTGR modeling and simulation tools and experiments to validate them. This project evolved into the Advanced Reactor Technology program that continued to invest in TRISO fuel qualification, ASME qualification of high temperature materials, and methods development. Gougar took over as Director of the campaign in 2016 until early 2019 when he switched roles to become the Director of the Nuclear Systems Design and Analysis Division. This was a short tour of duty as Gougar decided to end his long career at INL to work for X-Energy, LLC, leading the design of X-Energy’s Mobile Nuclear Power Plant.