New, smaller nuclear power plant to be built by Dow, X-energy

MIDLAND, Michigan: Dow chemical company and X-energy have agreed to develop and demonstrate the first next-generation nuclear reactor in North America.

Featuring four high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors, the X-energy Xe-100 plant will be built at one of Dow’s sites on the US Gulf Coast, with the location being finalized later this year.

Nuclear reactor developers seek to develop a new generation of smaller and more efficient nuclear plants that could be deployed for a wide variety of uses.

The technology is also key to combating climate change, said supporters of next-generation nuclear reactors, including members of the administration of US President Joe Biden.

However, critics said that these reactors are more expensive than renewable energy and energy storage technologies require more time to develop.

Dow produces a wide range of products, including polyethylene used in packaging, paints, and foams, and the X-energy plant will provide it with a facility that processes heat and power to manufacture products.

X-energy Chief Executive Clay Sell said that the collaboration between the two companies is significant, as it will create an opportunity to further reduce emissions in the energy-intensive industrial sector.

The reactors are planned to be be fueled by high assay low enriched uranium, or HALEU, which is only produced in Russia. At the same time, US company Centrus Energy Corp is trying to become a domestic source of HALEU.

The agreement includes some $50 million for engineering works, and half of that amount could be funded through the US Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, and the other half by Dow.

The companies will submit a construction application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.