The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Argonne National Laboratory will work with three leading nuclear products and services companies on projects that could unlock the potential of advanced nuclear reactor designs.

The laboratory said this cooperation will help create a new generation of safer, more efficient reactors.

The three projects partner Argonne with Areva Federal Services, based in Aiken, South Carolina; GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, based in Wilmington, North Carolina, and Westinghouse Electric Co., based in Monroeville, Penn., to address technical challenges to the design, construction and operation of next-generation reactors.

Areva is partnering with TerraPower Co., Argonne and Texas A&M University to conduct thermal hydraulic modeling and simulations and an experimental investigation for liquid metal-cooled fast reactor fuel assemblies. GE Hitachi is partnering with Argonne to develop an updated safety assessment of the company's PRISM sodium-cooled fast reactor. Westinghouse is partnering with Argonne and the University of Pittsburgh to develop thermo-acoustic sensors for sodium-cooled fast reactors.

The five industry-led projects will receive $13 million in cost-share agreements to help address technical challenges to the design, construction and operation of next-generation nuclear reactors, based on needs identified by industry designers and technical experts. DOE created the program in 2013.

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