A new initiative from X-energy, bolstered by Dow, is powering low-carbon emissions energy. X-energy, LLC is a nuclear reactor and fuel design engineering company. The company was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2020 to receive up to $1.2 billion under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program Cooperative Agreement in federal cost-shared funding to develop, license, build, and demonstrate an operational advanced reactor and fuel fabrication facility within a 10-year span.
In 2022, X-energy announced a $50 million joint development agreement with multinational chemical giant Dow to demonstrate the first-grid advanced nuclear reactor at an industrial site. As part of the agreement, Dow is now a sub-awardee under X-energy’s ARDP with the DOE. At the time of the announcement, Dow also brought to light its intention to take a minority equity stake in X-energy.
Last month, the University of Texas at Austin Cockrell School of Engineering hosted a panel discussion with Governor Abbott, he noted “Texas is the energy capital of the world” Abbott said, “When you look at the fact that Texas is the fastest-growing state with regard to population and businesses, you know that our demand for power is only going to increase.” Abbott also said, “We’re going to be studying and evaluating the reliability, the safety of nuclear power. If it passes all the tests, we will be looking to dramatically expand nuclear power in the state of Texas for the primary purpose of providing reliable, dispatchable power to our grid.”
The International Energy Agency has determined that nuclear energy production would need to increase 80% globally by 2040 to stay on track with sustainability targets, including international climate goals.
Dow and X-energy are slated to install an Xe-100 high-temperature, gas-cooled reactor plant at one of Dow’s sites in Seadrift, between Corpus Christi and Houston, which produces more than 4 million pounds each year of materials used in packaging, footwear, wire and cable insulation and solar cell membranes. It also is expected to reduce the plant’s emissions by 440,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually, as steps by Michigan-based Dow toward achieving goals of carbon neutrality by 2050 and reducing carbon emissions by 30% by 2030.
Jim Fitterling, Dow chairman and CEO, noted in a press release issued in early March, “The utilization of X-energy’s fourth generation nuclear technology will enable Dow to take a major step in reducing our carbon emissions while delivering lower carbon footprint products to our customers and society,” he said. “The collaboration with X-energy and the DOE will serve as a leading example of how the industrial sector can safely, effectively and affordably decarbonize.”
X-energy will install four of its Xe-100 reactors at the coastal site with each unit designed to produce 80 megawatts of energy fueled by the company’s baseball-sized uranium fuel kernels, encased in layers of pyrolytic carbon, silicon carbide and porous carbon. The reactors will partly be constructed by Fort Worth-based Paragon Energy Solutions, LLC, a supply chain management company that focuses its efforts on tackling the nuclear industry’s most difficult challenges. The Xe-100 modular reactor is one of two designs selected by the DOE to receive $80 million each of initial cost-shared funding to build an advanced reactor demonstration plant that can be operational within seven years.
Learn more about X-energy and DOW’s efforts to drive carbon emissions reductions