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Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) Webpage​

Versatile Test Reactor Overview

Virtual Tour of a Versatile Test Reactor

VTR F​​actshe​et​

Versatile Test Reactor: Missing Piece of Nuclear Energy Innovation Infrastructure in the U.S.

The mission of the VTR program is to provide leading edge capability for accelerated testing and qualification of advanced fuels and materials enabling the U.S. to regain and sustain technology leadership in the area of advanced reactor systems.​


U.S. Department of Energy Announces Public Hearings on the Draft Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement
January 8, 2021​
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will hold two webcast public hearings to present information and accept comments on the Draft Versatile Test Reactor Environmental Impact Statement (VTR EIS). DOE is hosting internet-based public hearings in place of in-person hearings due to ongoing public health concerns. The proposed VTR would be a sodium-cooled, fast-neutron-spectrum test reactor that will enhance and accelerate research, development, and demonstration of innovative nuclear energy technologies. The Draft VTR EIS, prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), analyzes potential impacts of the VTR alternatives and options for reactor fuel production. The Draft VTR EIS evaluates: (1) Construction and operation of the VTR at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) or the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This includes operating and performing experiments in the VTR, post-irradiation examination of irradiated test specimens in hot cell facilities, and spent fuel conditioning and storage pending offsite shipment; (2) Production of fuel for the VTR at INL and/or the Savannah River Site, including preparing feedstock for the fuel, fabricating fuel pins, and assembling the fuel pins into reactor fuel; and (3) A no-action alternative under which DOE would not pursue the construction and operation of a VTR.
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U.S. Nuclear Industry Council (USNIC) Policy Brief - Advanced Nuclear Reactor Development Benefits from Versatile Test Reactor
January 24, 2020
To maintain U.S. global advanced nuclear leadership, it is important to have a versatile, high-energy neutron source. The U.S. Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) can provide that capability to accelerate research and test nuclear materials, fuel, and other components. The VTR can assist in developing innovative nuclear energy technologies that have inherent safety features, lower waste yields, the capability to consume waste materials, the ability to support both electric and non-electric applications, and other improvements over the current generation of reactors. Furthermore, the success of the VTR will advance the U.S. industry by not having domestic nuclear developers relying upon Russian or Chinese test facilities and allowing the U.S. to be a competitive international resource for irradiation and testing services. In addition, constructing the VTR will enable the U.S. government to demonstrate advanced reactor technologies.
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Bill Gates’ TerraPower and GE Hitachi team up on proposal to build a new nuclear reactor for research
January 21, 2020
TerraPower, the nuclear energy venture backed by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and headquartered in Bellevue, Wash., is collaborating with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy in pursuit of a public-private partnership to design and construct the Versatile Test Reactor for the U.S. Department of Energy.
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Partnership for Versatile Test Reactor
November 18, 2019
Battelle Energy Alliance, LLC (BEA), the managing and operating contractor for the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) in Idaho Falls, Idaho, is seeking an Expression of Interest (EOI) from industry stakeholders interested in forming a partnership to achieve maximum progress in deployment of the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR). 

The scope of such a Partnership could include but not be limited to the development and deployment of a new fast neutron testing capability (VTR), other uses of VTR capabilities beyond just advanced reactors design and licensing, reducing the cost and schedule risk of new nuclear plant design and construction and other compatible uses of VTR capabilities. 
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DOE Announces Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement to Examine Building a Versatile Test Reactor in the U.S.
August 5, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) published a Notice of Intent in the Federal Register announcing that the department will develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to study the impacts of building a Versatile Test Reactor in the U.S. to test future fuels and materials that industry is designing for advanced civilian nuclear power reactors to provide large amounts of carbon-free, economical electricity for the nation’s power grid.
“This testing capability is essential for the United States to modernize its nuclear energy infrastructure and for developing transformational nuclear energy technologies that reduce waste generation and enhance nuclear security,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry.  “Lack of a domestic reactor with versatile fast-neutron-spectrum testing capability is a significant national strategic risk affecting the ability of DOE to fulfill its mission to advance the energy, environmental, and nuclear security of the United States and promote scientific and technological innovation.” 

“DOE needs to develop this capability on an accelerated schedule to avoid further delay in the United States’ ability to develop and deploy advanced nuclear energy technologies,” said U.S. Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal. “If this capability is not available to U.S. innovators as soon as possible, the ongoing shift of nuclear technology dominance to other international states such as China and the Russian Federation will accelerate, to the detriment of the U.S. nuclear industrial sector. Beginning the NEPA process at this time will ensure that all environmental factors are considered before the Department makes a final decision to move forward with the project.”
DOE news release
DOE news: Secretary Perry launches Versatile Test Reactor Project
February 28, 2018
According to a DOE news release today, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced the launch of DOE's Versatile Fast Neutron Source, also referred to as the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR), one of the foundational projects specified in the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act of 2017.

"U.S. test reactors and user facilities are one reason the United States has maintained an international leadership role in nuclear energy research and development," said Idaho National Laboratory Director Mark Peters. "We currently do not have the fast neutron spectrum research facilities in the U.S. necessary to enable a robust future for advanced reactors. DOE's announcement about the versatile test reactor project is the first important milestone in establishing this capability, and prioritizes investment in this user facility that will serve the science community, industry, regulators and the future of nuclear energy research and innovation."

The Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act of 2017 (NEICA, S.97, which was enacted into law in September 2018) included provisions for a Versatile Neutron Source and directs the Energy secretary to determine the mission need for a versatile reactor-based fast neutron source operating as a national user facility – as well as a deadline, to the maximum extent practicable – to complete construction and approve the start of the VTR operations by December 2025. INL will lead the VTR project.
DOE news release