The Pentagon announced this Monday, March 9, the award of 3 contracts to 3 American companies for preliminary study of a transportable miniaturized nuclear reactor and projectable with an electric power of 1 to 5 MW, intended to supply autonomously a projected American base without resorting to local electricity production. $ 13,5 million was allocated to BWX Technologies, Inc in Virginia, $ 11,9 million to Westinghouse Government Services in Washington DC and $ 14,3 million to X-energy in the State of Maryland, for a total of $ 39,7 million for this program known as “Project Pele”. Companies will have two years to study a convincing and secure model, after which time one of them can be entrusted with the design of a demonstrator.
The electricity consumption of the planned American bases has continued to increase in recent years, to now reach an average annual consumption of 40 MWh. To meet this growing need, the US military is now using the host nation's regional power grid, as well as backup generators using traditional fuel. However, in either case, this architecture is vulnerable, whether by hampering the fuel supply chain, or by rendering regional electricity production inoperative. The need for electrical energy is set to grow further in the years to come, with the arrival of the first plug-in hybrid vehicles, directed energy defense systems, and the increase in computer and digital processing needs, the use of a solution such as a miniaturized nuclear reactor therefore appears to be a prime alternative, even if other avenues are under study.
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