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DoD Wants a Mobile Nuclear Reactor, They Call It Project Pele

It might sound like the name of some football player of yesteryear, but it is in fact an important undertaking of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO). Project Pele is the name, and a mobile nuclear reactor is the game.
Mobile nuclear reactor could be moved on the road, on rails, or in the air 1 photo
The idea for such a technology first appeared in 2019, when the request for solutions was made. Three companies entered the competition and now, two years later, the list was narrowed down to two: BWXT Advanced Technologies and X-energy.

Each will have to come up with a design for the mobile nuclear reactor prototype, which will be reviewed in 2022, after which time “one of the two companies may be selected to build and demonstrate a prototype.”

So, what is the DoD after? According to the available info, the reactor should be capable of delivering “one to five Megawatts of electrical power for at least three years of operation at full power.” It will have to be designed in such a way as to operate within three days of delivery, and allow to be removed in a week at most.

Technically, the government says the reactor will be used to meet its increasing electricity needs. DoD says it currently uses 30 Terawatt-hours of electricity per year and more than 10 million gallons of fuel per day, and such a reactor should help address at least parts of those needs.

But such a technology does have the capability of covering a wider range of needs, including military ones, and would have geopolitical implications for America, says Jay Dryer, SCO director.

Most importantly though, Project Pele might become the cornerstone for commercial solutions, and possibly even some that could be used for the space exploration needs of our world.

The development of the reactor is being backed by a wide range of organizations, including the U.S. Army, the Department of Energy, NASA, and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

press release

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