On August 9 advanced reactor developer, X-energy, and Dow Chemical Company (Dow) announced that they intend to collaborate to deploy an advanced reactor to provide process heat and power at one of Dow’s U.S. Gulf Coast facilities by about 2030. This partnership is a substantial step toward Dow’s efforts to deliver a 30% carbon reduction by 2030, and will help advance Dow’s commitment to reach carbon neutrality by 2050, a goal they announced in 2021. Dow is the first manufacturer to announce an intention to develop small modular nuclear technology options in the United States.
X-energy is a nuclear energy innovation company focused on the development of next-generation, zero-carbon energy, and the design and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors. It is also an Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) demonstration award winner, under which it intends to license and build its Xe-100 plant in Washington State later in the 2020s. Dow is a global materials science, industrial and manufacturing company that operates 104 manufacturing sites in 31 countries. Dow also intends to take a minority equity stake in X-energy as part of the arrangement.
The Xe-100 reactor plant—a Generation IV, high-temperature gas reactor, engineered to operate as a single 80 megawatts (MW) electric unit and is optimized as a four-unit plant delivering 320 MW electric—can provide both carbon free power and process heat to the Dow facility. The Xe-100’s reliable, high heat can directly support heavy industry including oil sands operations, mining applications and other industrial processes.
While the partnership is a significant commercial development, it is especially noteworthy because it is a big step in decarbonizing the industrial sector generally—and takes advanced reactors one step further in delivering on their promise to help in this effort. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse emissions breakdown by sector in 2020, the electricity and industrial sectors accounted for about a combined 50% of emissions (electricity was about 25% and the industrial sector was about 24%). The other big emitter was the transportation sector at about 27%. And while the percentages are nearly equally shared among the three sources, both the transportation and electricity sectors have been proactive in developing and announcing decarbonization strategies and commitments, but the industrial sector has made slower progress.
This announcement follows another recent announcement to deploy the X-energy reactor to decarbonize industrial processes in Canada. In July 2022, X-energy and Ontario Power Generation (OPG) announced they had signed a framework agreement to pursue opportunities to deploy Xe-100 SMRs for industrial applications in Ontario at industrial sites and identify further potential end users and sites throughout Canada. In addition to the clean environmental impact, deploying SMRs also provides an economic benefit in Canada. According to Natural Resources Canada’s SMR Action Plan, development and deployment of SMRs in Canada could yield up to $19B in total annual economic impact between 2030-2040, creating more than 6,000 new jobs annually across the country.
For more information, please contact Amy Roma, Partner, or Stephanie Fishman, Associate