The US Department of Energy has announced that it will support the new design of modular nuclear reactors, as it looks to develop safer options.

Contracts to design and begin production of the reactors by 2022 will be awarded to select companies and funded under the DOE as they attempt to move away from large-scale, toxic nuclear reactors. says Energy Secretary Steve Chu is positive about the idea. “We think (small, modular nuclear) solves a lot of issues in terms of investments and electricity infrastructure,” Chu said at a press conference a year ago. “And it’s a way for the United States to regain its leadership in nuclear.”

They’ll also be much safer. A number of startups have been working on new designs, including TerraPower, NuScale Power and Hyperion Power Generation, that also use different fuels and reduce nuclear waste.

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