The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Nuclear Energy (ONE) said on 11 January that a new high-tech railcar developed by the US Navy and DOE) was en route from Oregon to a site near Pueblo, Colorado for multiple-car testing.
The Rail Escort Vehicle (REV), specifically designed to transport security personnel during the shipment of used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, is the last piece needed for a complete railcar system required by DOE to transport spent nuclear fuel to disposal and storage facilities across the country.
The new REV provides a comfortable living and working environment for the security personnel onboard and is also equipped with security features, including cameras and communications equipment, to provide enhanced surveillance of used fuel shipments throughout the journey.
The project was initiated by the Navy’s Naval Nuclear Propulsion Programme (NNPP) to replace its ageing fleet of escort vehicles. DOE and NNPP leveraged shared resources and practices to develop the new REV design, which meets the Association of American Railroads (AAR) highest standard for railcars, DOE noted.
“The REV is the last piece of the puzzle in completing a railcar system to safely transport the nation’s spent nuclear fuel,” said Patrick Schwab, Atlas project manager for ONE. “This project is a prime example of the great collaboration between DOE and the Navy and will further serve the nation’s naval nuclear propulsion programme, as well as our civilian reactors which currently supply more than half of our nation’s clean energy.”
DOE contributed more than $10 million to the design and fabrication of the REV project. The railcar was built by Vigor Works in Portland, Oregon where it completed electrical and plumbing systems testing. The Department of Transportation’s Transportation Technology Centre already conducted single-car performance testing on an earlier prototype of the vehicle.
When the REV arrives at the test-site in late-February, it will be connected to Atlas, a 12-axle railcar being developed by DOE, and buffer railcars to form a complete train. The entire train will then undergo two years of multiple-car testing, which will allow DOE to achieve initial operations capabilities as early as 2024.
Photo: The Rail Escort Vehicle (REV) is the last piece needed for a complete railcar system required by DOE to transport spent nuclear fuel to disposal and storage facilities across the US (Credit:DOE)