KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority signed a memorandum of understanding to evaluate the development of a new generation of cost-effective, advanced nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors, at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site in Roane County. TVA has not made a decision to build and would first need approval from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a specific design.
“UT offers unique capabilities supporting TVA’s mission for innovation in nuclear power,” TVA President & CEO Jeff Lyash said. “This partnership allows us to better explore new nuclear technologies through UT’s advanced modeling and simulation tools as we continue to pursue a clean energy future.”
The partnership allows collaboration and evaluation of the economic feasibility of potentially operating light-water or non-light water fission reactors that build on the success of the current generation of reactors by leveraging the expertise of UT’s nuclear engineering department. This partnership also provides a unique opportunity to engage with students and prepare the nuclear workforce of the future.
“Established in 1957, our department is the oldest and one of the most prestigious in the country,” said UT Engineering Department Head Wes Hines. “This strategic partnership with TVA to build highly efficient advanced reactors will help us pave the way for a clean, reliable energy future.”
TVA signed a similar agreement with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in February 2020 to explore advanced reactor designs as a next-generation nuclear technology with potential for improved safety and increased flexibility. TVA is the only utility in the nation with an approved early site permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to potentially build SMRs. These partnerships are important steps in the early stages of evaluation as TVA considers the prospect of new nuclear.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is the flagship campus of the UT System and the state’s land-grant institution. The university is home to more than 29,000 students from every Tennessee county, every state, and more than 100 countries. Its 11 academic colleges provide more than 300 degree programs representing a wide range of teaching and learning opportunities. Programs in business, engineering, law, and the arts rank in the top 10 nationally among all public universities. UT’s unique partnership with the US Department of Energy and nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory addresses critical issues in energy, transportation, climate, and the environment. Nestled along the Tennessee River in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, the university’s 600-acre campus is adjacent to downtown Knoxville.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving nearly 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system, and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation.