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What are Microreactors?
Microreactors are a class of very small modular reactors targeted for non-conventional nuclear markets. The US Department of Energy supports a variety of advanced reactor designs, including gas, liquid-metal, molten-salt, and heat-pipe-cooled concepts. In the U.S., microreactor developers are currently focused on designs that could be deployed as early as the mid-2020s. 

Potential Microreactor applications are:
  • Remote communities
  • Mining sites
  • Remote defense bases
  • Applications such as back-up generation for power plants
  • Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions 
Such applications currently face economic and energy security challenges that can be uniquely addressed by this new class of innovative nuclear reactors.

Key Attributes

Microreactors have key features enabled by their small size that distinguish them from other reactor types mainly large reactors (LWRs) and small modular reactors (SMRs). 

These are:

  • Typically produce less than 20 MWth
  •  Smaller footprint​
  •  Factory fabrication
  •  Transportable
  •  Self-regulating (enabling remote and semi-autonomous microreactor operation) 
  •  Rapid deploy-ability and availability during emergency response
  •  Possible operation up to 10 years or more

What are National Laboratories Doing?

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Microreactor Program was established to support research and development (R&D) of technologies related to the development, demonstration and deployment of very small, transportable reactors to provide power and heat for decentralized generation in civilian, industrial and defense energy sectors.

Led by Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the program conducts both fundamental and applied R&D to reduce the risks associated with new technology performance and manufacturing readiness of microreactors. The intent of the program is to ensure that microreactor concepts can be licensed and deployed by commercial entities to meet specific use case requirements. The program will also support R&D specific to certain reactor technologies to ensure relevancy and address the needs of commercial developers.

Information Sheets
The U.S. DOE Microreactor Program

Microreactor Agile Non-nuclear Experimental Testbed (MAGNET)​​​

Program Plans
Program Plan 

Operations Plan 

Organizational Structure
Org Structure 

Technical Reports​
Technical Reports

In The News
Puerto Rico work to update grid, make territory more energy independent

An affordable zero emissions grid needs new nuclear 

Microreactors Flipboard

Meetings and Workshops
August 18-19, 2020: Mic​roreactor Program Virtual Workshop

June 18-20, 2019: GAIN-EPRI-NEI-US NIC Microreactor Workshop

Who is partnering with the National Laboratories?

The U.S. DOE Microreactor Program collaborates and interfaces with other DOE programs and activities to advance its mission to support development and deployment of microreactor concepts. DOE has several programs covering a range of technologies relevant to microreactor development. The program will engage with these programs through the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy planning process, coordination meetings, and review and planning meetings to ensure that scope is aligned and not duplicative. 

Participating National Laboratories
Argonne National Laboratory
Idaho National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Sandia National Laboratory

Participating Universities (Through Nuclear Energy University Program)

University of Illinois
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Michigan

Associated Programs
​​Advanced Reactor Technology (ART) Program
Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)
Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN)
National Reactor Innovation Center (NRIC)
Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies (NEET) Programs
Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP)
Transformationsl Challenge Reactor (TCR)

U.S. DOE Program Manager                                                    
Tom Sowinski
(301) 903-0112    
National Technical Director
Jess Gehin, Ph.D.