Wednesday, April 17, 2024

U.S. Air Force selects Eielson AFB to pilot its first nuclear micro-reactor

The U.S. Air Force has selected Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), located approximately 26 miles (42 km) southeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, to pilot its first micro-reactor. The next-generation energy capability will provide the installation with a clean, reliable, and resilient nuclear energy supply technology for critical national security infrastructure.

In the case of the Eielson base, we are talking about several tonnes of coal to supply the base’s capacity with 33.5 MW of electricity. In addition to the negative impact on the environment, it is simply expensive, and the fuel is very difficult to deliver to the point of consumption, so the Air Force is interested in looking at nuclear energy as a cleaner and simpler alternative.

The micro-reactor pilot is being developed in response to the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act requirement to identify potential locations to the site, construct, and operate a micro-reactor by the end of 2027. The Air Force will work with the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to facilitate the micro-reactor pilot and to ensure this pilot is conducted with safety as the number one priority. Licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the micro-reactor will be owned and operated commercially.

“Energy is a critical asset to ensure mission continuity at our installations,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Environment, Safety, and Infrastructure Mark Correll. “Micro-reactors are a promising technology for ensuring energy resilience and reliability, and are particularly well-suited for powering and heating remote domestic military bases like Eielson AFB.”

“This technology has the potential to provide true energy assurance, and the existing energy infrastructure and compatible climate at Eielson make for the perfect location to validate its feasibility,” said Mr. Correll.