General Atomics Featured In Senate Hearing On Advanced Reactor Research And Future Of Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Advanced Reactors Must Address Cost, Safety, Waste & Proliferation Challenges

WASHINGTON – 8 MARCH 2017 – Dr. Christina Back, Vice President of Nuclear Technologies and Materials for General Atomics and leader of the organization responsible for the Energy Multiplier Module (EM2), an advanced reactor concept, testified before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on the efforts to modernize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to best jumpstart research into advanced nuclear reactors.

Dr. Christina Back, Vice President of Nuclear Technologies and Materials for General Atomics
Dr. Christina Back, Vice President of Nuclear Technologies and Materials for General Atomics testifies before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

"A healthy nuclear power industry is essential to the long-term energy security of the United States and it is indirectly essential to our national defense. Nuclear power has been identified as an essential part of our nation's energy mix and it is the largest source of reliable, clean energy available to our nation," Dr. Back testified.

"Today's nuclear reactors that use existing technology are currently too expensive to be competitive. The U.S. nuclear industry is in decline. To reverse this trend, we believe our country must do what it does best: bring the ingenuity of its people to bear on creating new ways to produce nuclear energy safely, cleanly and at much lower cost," continued Back.

EM2 is an advanced reactor concept designed to meet the needs of the twenty-first century United States electrical grid while addressing the four core challenges facing the nuclear energy industry: cost competitiveness, safety, waste production, and proliferation risk. EM2 is a passively safe, helium-cooled, convert-and-burn reactor with a net power of 265 MWe. It embodies significant advances in plant safety, operability, economics, resource utilization and security. EM2 capabilities are the result of bold innovations in reactor physics, core materials, safety system design, and power conversion technology.

"We believe every worthy advanced reactor concept must address these 4-core objectives jointly, it is not sufficient to address one at the expense of the other three, especially cost," Dr. Back continued.

"If this Committee's objective is to stimulate the development of new advanced reactor concepts, we would suggest that it is in this early phase of development that it would be relatively inexpensive to involve the NRC for early consultations with potentially very high impact. Every advanced reactor concept that involves significant long lead development would benefit enormously from being able to work with the NRC at an early stage," concluded Dr. Back.

Dr. Back's complete written testimony is available here. For more information on General Atomics' EM2 project or to speak with Dr. Christina Back please contact Zabrina Johal at (858) 455-4004.

About General Atomics:

San Diego-based General Atomics and its affiliated companies now constitute one of the world's leading resources for high-technology systems ranging from the nuclear fuel cycle to electromagnetic systems, remotely operated surveillance aircraft, airborne sensors, and advanced electronic, wireless and laser technologies.


Zabrina Johal 
(858) 455-4004 | 858-444-5465 (cell)


Testimony (PDF): Testimony of Christina Back, Ph.D. V.P., Nuclear Technologies and Materials, General Atomics Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works "Hearing on S.512 Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act" March 8, 2017



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