New Nuclear – The Transformative Potential of Small Modular and Micro-Reactors

with Harlan Bowers,
President and COO, X Energy

November 17, 2023, 10:10 am
Foggy Bottom Room, VTRC, Virginia Tech, Arlington

Register for Zoom link

Variations of pressurized and boiling water reactors have dominated the Navy nuclear and commercial nuclear industry for 50+ years. Other promising technologies have also been demonstrated around the World and have had limited commercial success (UK graphite reactors, Canada CANDU reactors), but World-wide acceptance has not been achieved. Recent market and external pressures have caused these competing technologies to be more strongly considered, evidenced by the number of Generation IV reactor technology developers that have been incorporated in the past 10 years, as well as the Department of Energy’s support of these entities through cooperative agreement awards. In addition, U.S. Government agencies have realized that nuclear can be a strategic or mission-enabling technology, and now is the right time to explore the potential that innovative nuclear designs have to offer.

This presentation will provide an overview of X-energy’s high-temperature gas cooled reactor (HTGR) technology, the inherent features that enable HTGRs to address the above-cited market pressures, and how the technology can be adapted to a variety of commercial and strategic needs. Finally, we will look at how NASA has determined that nuclear is a critical stepping stone to solar system exploration and what those applications may look like.

At X-energy, Harlan Bowers has responsibility for execution of business strategy, program operations, business development, and research and development. In his previous role as VP, Government R&D, he managed a program portfolio that included micro-reactor applications for the DOD (transportable micro-reactor for military base operational energy needs) and NASA (nuclear thermal propulsion and lunar fission surface power). He has led X-energy’s efforts to capture multiple government contracts, including: U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) industry funding opportunity for the Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR); and the design of the commercial TRISO Fuel Fabrication Facility, also under DOE’s industry funding opportunity program.

Before joining X-energy in 2015, he was Senior Vice President at Stinger Ghaffarian Technologies (SGT), where he led business development and several NASA engineering services contracts in program operations, resource management, task order management, and budget tracking. His responsibilities included being Program Manager for the NASA Omnibus Multidiscipline Engineering Services contract ($550M value), successfully supporting various NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) spaceflight and ground-systems development programs. Before that, he was the Mechanical Systems Engineering Services IIA Contract Program Manager ($750M value), with over 630 engineers, designers and technicians supporting multiple NASA programs and research initiatives. Prior to SGT, Harlan served in various director-level roles at Orbital Sciences Corporation, Fairchild Space Company, and GE Astro Space with responsibility for developing and delivering components for earth science, space science, and commercial communications satellites.

He holds a BS in Aerospace & Ocean Engineering from Virginia Tech and an MBA from the University of Maryland-College Park.