Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA), the managing and operating contractor for the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL), has issued a request for information seeking proposals from industry partners to design nuclear power system for the moon.

BEA is seeking information to develop innovative technologies for a fission surface power (FSP) system capable of operating on the moon.

The request for information is sponsored by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in partnership with the Department of the Energy and INL.

Selected technologies will test and validate an FSP design

The new selected technologies will have the capacity to test and validate an FSP design, which can be built and deployed on the moon, with potential for supporting subsequent missions such as to Mars.

INL Nuclear Science & Technology Directorate associate laboratory director Dr John Wagner said: “Idaho National Laboratory has a central role in emphasizing the United States’ global leadership in nuclear innovation, with the anticipated demonstration of advanced reactors on the INL Site.

“The prospect of deploying an advanced reactor to the lunar surface is as exciting as it is challenging, and partnering with the most forward-thinking companies in the private sector and national laboratory system will help us get there.”

In April 2020, BEA issued an expression of interest (EOI) from industry stakeholders to jointly develop or demonstrate advanced construction technologies and processes that would reduce the cost and schedule risk for the construction of the new nuclear plant.

Work is planned to be carried out as the National Reactor Innovation Center’s (NRIC) initiative. NRIC enables advanced reactor demonstration and deployment.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Energy announced up to $50m in funding for programmes to support fusion energy research and development.