The US Department of Energy has awarded around $40m (£26m) to two teams led by Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric and San Diego-based General Atomics to produce conceptual designs for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).
An NGNP is a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor that will be capable of producing electricity, as well as heat, for industrial processes at temperatures from 700 to 950°C.
About 16 per cent of US greenhouse-gas emissions come from industrial heating. The process heat or steam generated by the new nuclear reactors could be used for electricity co-generation, which has the potential to help energy-intensive industries, such as petrochemical producers, reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.
The NGNP project is being conducted in two phases. Phase one involves the development of conceptual designs, cost and schedule estimates for the demonstration project.
The US Department of Energy will use the information gleaned from phase one of the project to determine whether it should continue to the second phase, which would involve detailed design and construction of a demonstration plant.
The conceptual designs should be completed by the end of August.