Related legislation S.97 became Public Law No: 115-248


This legislation directs the Department of Energy (DOE) to prioritize research and development (R&D) infrastructure that will enable the private sector to invest in advanced reactor technologies and provides a clear path forward to attract private investment for prototype development at DOE labs.

DOE carries out civilian nuclear energy R&D through the DOE labs and universities which provide research infrastructure and employ highly trained scientists to maintain the nation’s critical R&D capabilities. The U.S. regulatory system, managed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), creates a barrier to investment for advanced reactor technologies because it is ill-equipped to process licenses in a timely and predictable manner, which further suppresses private investment and technology development.  

Summary of Major Provisions

  • Amends DOE’s civilian nuclear energy R&D mission to ensure that the Department enables the private sector to partner with national labs for the purpose of developing novel reactor concepts.

  • Provides programmatic authority for DOE to leverage its supercomputing infrastructure to accelerate nuclear energy R&D capabilities for advanced reactor technologies.

  • Provides statutory direction for a DOE reactor-based versatile neutron source that will operate as an open-access user facility and enable researchers to conduct academic and proprietary research in the United States.

  • Authorizes DOE to enable the private sector to construct and operate privately-funded reactor prototypes at DOE sites.

  • Requires DOE to put forth a transparent, strategic, 10-year plan for prioritizing nuclear R&D programs while considering budget constraints.

Cosponsors include Chairman Lamar Smith, Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson, U.S. Rep. Steve Knight (R-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), U.S. Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas), U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), U.S. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.), U.S. Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.), U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.).