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DoD Eyes Small Nuclear Reactors for Military Bases; Ellen Lord Quoted

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Ellen Lord
Ellen Lord

The Department of Defense (DoD) plans to implement commercially-developed nuclear reactors on military facilities to support autonomous power generation and prevent disruption from affected electrical grids, Federal News Network reported Thursday.

Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment and a 2020 Wash100 Award recipient, told attendees at a McAleese and Associates event in Washington, D.C. that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will oversee licensing for the small reactors that are meant to operate at approximately two megawatts.

“We have seen some commercial nuclear companies interested in this, and we think it’s a great way to bridge between civil/commercial nuclear and DoD nuclear,” she said. “One really feeds the other in terms of human capital, and we think that’s a good partnership.”

The effort, known as Project Pele, is under operation at the Idaho National Laboratory, according to Lord. Lord noted that the Strategic Capabilities Office has earmarked funding for a prototype mobile reactor for use in forward-operating and remote locations.

DoD plans to issue an award to multiple entities for Project Pele’s design phase ahead of downselecting contractors for construction work.