The Pentagon greenlighted three companies to start designing small and mobile nuclear reactors, distributing $39.7 million in contracts towards the effort. According to Defense News, BWX Technologies, Inc., Westinghouse Government Services, and X-energy, LLC were given contracts to start a two-year design competition for a “safe, mobile and advanced” nuclear microreactor that could possibly be deployed with U.S. forces to generate “power for remote operating base.” Prototypes for the microreactors will reportedly seek a 1-5 megawatt power range. The effort is part of “Project Pele,” a project from the Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office. The Department of Energy will also be supporting the project. According to Defense One, the microreactors project came to be after 900,000 gallons of fuel were used for the military’s basic power needs in 2008—during the height of the conflict in Iraq.
Jeff Waksman, Project Pele program manager, said the focus of the project is building a reactor that can be transportable and stable. “We will leverage our industry partners to develop a system that can be safely and rapidly moved by road, rail, sea or air and for quick set up and shut down, with a design which is inherently safe,” he said in a statement.