Reducing Overnight Capital Cost of Advanced Reactors

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Amherst, New York
Project Term:
09/13/2018 - 06/30/2022

Critical Need:

Nuclear power provides about one-fifth of U.S. electricity generation, delivering reliable, low-emission, baseload power to the grid. However, the future of nuclear power is unclear; high costs and a rapidly changing grid—including growing renewable resources like wind and solar—present new challenges for existing and new nuclear plants. The next generation of nuclear plants require new technological advances to achieve “walkaway” safe and secure operation, extremely low construction capital costs, and dramatically shorter construction and commissioning times than currently available plants.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

The University at Buffalo, the State University of New York (SUNY) will develop seismic protective systems to safeguard essential and safety-class components inside nuclear power plants. Currently, these systems and components are custom-produced for each new plant, with multiple designs often needed for a given plant. Earthquake considerations may add up to 35% to the overnight capital cost for new plant designs in regions of moderate to high seismic hazard. This project will develop and implement modular systems to protect individual components from earthquake shaking effects. Because the systems can be implemented independent of reactor type, they will simplify plant design, facilitate economical reactor construction in regions of moderate and high seismic hazard, and enable efficient seismic protection of safety-grade equipment in reactor buildings. By focusing seismic protection on components that require it, the approach can facilitate reduced thickness of walls and slabs in other parts of the plant, further saving construction time and costs.

Potential Impact:

If successful, developments from MEITNER projects will inform the development of lower cost, safe, and secure advanced nuclear power plants.


Nuclear power plants contribute to grid stability by providing reliable baseload power and are among the most secure facilities in the country. 


Nuclear power has low life cycle emissions, making it an key source of clean electricity.


Nuclear power provides high-efficiency electrical generation for the U.S. grid. Reducing plant costs reduces exposure to price volatility.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Joseph King
Project Contact:
Dr. Andrew Whittaker
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:

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