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Transformational Technology Core (TTC)

To meet the increasing demands on the submarine fleet, Naval Reactors is working on a Transformational Technology Core (TTC). It is unclear if TTC is the same as the Technology Demonstration Core (TDC), described in the NR 2014 Congressional Budget Request, that will be loaded in the S8G prototype reactor during its 2018 2021 refueling outage.

The TTC was to deliver a significant energy increase to future VIRGINIA-class ships with minimum impact to the overall ship design. While the early units of the Virginia-class submarines have a newly-designed reactor plant that meets their increased energy needs, the Transformational Technology Core will satisfy the even larger energy demands of future submarines.

By capitalizing on three generations of submarine reactor development, CVNX will enjoy unparalleled capabilities made possible by 25 percent more core energy-providing more electricity to launch unmanned vehicles, to shift to electromagnetic catapults, and to power the high-energy weapons of the future.

Looking further out, the Navy will continue to increase core energy density. The US Navy has evolved almost beyond recognition from NAUTILUS's first core, which lasted 2 years and traveled 62,000 miles-to cores lasting today's submarine's entire 33-year life and steaming over a million miles. The advanced core material testing will give the Transformational Technology Core 30 percent more lifetime energy, while still fitting in the reactor vessel used in the VIRGINIA-class submarine.

The Naval Reactors program is developing new nuclear propulsion plants to meet evolving national defense requirements. Initially, by the end of 2004, the goal was to complete 100 percent of the design of the next generation submarine reactor and 65 percent of the design of the next generation aircraft carrier reactor. Furthermore, the Naval Reactors program will begin work on its Transformational Technology Core, a reactor core that will deliver a significant energy increase to future submarines. The NR budget request for FY 2004 is $768 million, about a 7% increase above inflation over FY 2003. The increase will allow NR to begin the development of the Transformational Technology Core (TTC) utilizing advanced materials to achieve a substantial increase in core energy. TTC will be forward-fitted into the VIRGINIA Class submarines, and will result in greater ship operational ability and flexibility to meet increasing national security demands.

By 2005, Naval Reactors had a limited number of specific long-term performance measures that meaningfully assess progress in achieving program purpose. They are to safely steam approximately 2 million miles annually, totaling 150 million miles in nuclear-powered ships in program history by 2015; to provide the reactor plant for the next generation aircraft carrier by 2015; and to deliver the first Transformational Technology Core by 2015. Naval Reactors has a limited number of annual performance measures that have been identified to ensure progress is made for achieving the long-term goals outlined above. For FY 2007 these measures included: safely steam approximately 2 million miles annually totaling 136 million miles in nuclear-powered ships in program history; achieve a utilization factor of at least 90% for operation of test reactor plants; complete 80% of the next-generation aircraft carrier reactor plant design; and complete 46% of the Transformational Technology Core reactor plant design.

The 2006 Budget of $786 million included a request of $69 million for continuing work on the Transformational Technology Core (TTC), which will deliver a significant energy increase to future submarines. The TTC is a direct outgrowth of the Naval Reactors program in advanced reactor technology work and will not only help meet national security demands, but will also act as a stepping stone for future reactor plant development.

The FY2008 Naval Reactors budget request reflected the Navy's goal to reduce the cost of VIRGINIA-class submarines to $2 billion per unit, in order to support a higher build rate of two submarines per year consistent with the Navy's plan to meet national security needs through a 313 ship fleet. This cost reduction goal motivated Naval Reactors to pursue the development of an alternative core in parallel with TTC. While this lower cost core, which uses weapons return material, will support reductions in shipbuilding costs for VIRGINIA-class submarines, Naval Reactors must also continue the design and development of TTC in case the build rate remains at one submarine per year. In absence of a higher build rate, the increased energy from the TTC will provide the nation's nuclear fleet with the capability of maintaining higher operating tempos and higher average transit speeds to effectively meet increasing national security requirements.

TTC will use advanced reactor core materials to achieve a significant increase to the core energy density-more energy without increasing size, weight or space and while maintaining a reasonable cost. With significantly more energy, the objective for TTC is to extend ship life by as much as 30 percent and/or increase operating hours per operating year. An alternative core will use weapons return material and result in lower overall core procurement cost, which will support in a higher submarine build rate. The end result for both technologies is significantly greater operational ability and flexibility. The timing of these two cores corresponds with the need to transition from 97 to 93 percent enriched uranium fuel. This transition is necessitated by the shutdown of the high enrichment plant and the decision to use Uranium recovered from retired nuclear weapons as starter material for naval nuclear reactors. Both cores would be intended for forward fitting into VIRGINIA-class submarines, which will be the mainstay of the submarine fleet in future decades.



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