The Pentagon announced three contracts to begin design work on small mobile nuclear reactors as part of a push to bring nuclear power to U.S. forces overseas and at home.
Contracts totaling $39.7 million were awarded to two companies for a two-year engineering design competition for a small nuclear microreactor that could be deployed with forces inside the continental United States, according to a Defense News report. The effort is part of “Project Pele.”
“The Pele Program’s uniqueness lies in the reactor’s mobility and safety,” said Jeff Waksman, a program manager from the project, in a department statement to Defense News. “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.”
The military has awarded contracts to design mobile nuclear reactors.
A 2018 report from the Nuclear Energy Institute found that 90 percent of military installations have an “average annual energy use” that could be met by one or more reactors — ensuring that if the power grid goes down, basic functions could take place at the base.
Although the use of nuclear power on U.S. military bases, and even with American forces stationed on bases overseas, could prove beneficial, experts told Defense News that there are a number of remaining hurdles around safety, cost and security.