Advanced Reactor Safeguards and Security

The Advanced Reactor Safeguards and Security (ARSS) program area in the Department of Energy, Nuclear Energy (DOE NE) seeks to support domestic deployment of advanced nuclear reactors by mitigating safeguards and security roadblocks. The program applies laboratory research and development to address near-term challenges advanced reactor vendors face in meeting Physical Protection System (PPS), Material Control and Accounting (MC&A), and Cybersecurity requirements for U.S. construction.

Key Thrust Areas

Graphic of security incident

Deve​lop Robust and Cost-Appropriate Physical Protection Systems

Security costs for nuclear reactors can be prohibitive. The ARSS program is examining alternative PPS approaches that may drastically reduce the expenses associated with security. New technologies for detection, delay, and response are being actively developed and tested. These can be used alongside the security-by-design principles to optimize a PPS. The interface between security and safety plays an important role in advanced reactors and may allow for a more efficient PPS. The ARSS program is also supporting deployment of university research reactors and MC&A or PPS requirements.

Evaluate Material Control and Accounting Approaches for Pebble Bed Reactors

Some advanced reactor designs utilize alternative fuel forms, such as pebble-based fuel. Pebble Bed Reactors (PBRs) present a unique MC&A challenge in that tracking and counting the vast number of pebbles may be difficult for existing technologies and approaches. The ARSS program is examining each aspect of the PBR design from a safeguards perspective, including the MC&A approach, pebble handling systems, burnup measurements, and the interface between physical protection and MC&A.

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molten salt reactor diagram

Evaluate Material Control and Accounting Approaches for Molten Salt Reactors

Liquid-fueled molten salt reactors (MSRs) are singularly unique advanced reactor designs in that the fuel itself is in bulk form, as opposed to being discrete items (such as pebbles or fuel assemblies). The ARSS program is examining an overall MC&A approach, as well as exploring new measurement technologies and statistical methods to meet regulatory requirements.


The ARSS program sponsors cross-cutting R&D to enable the use of advanced digital​ technologies for advanced reactors and current U.S. nuclear fleet. This program aims to adapt the best cybersecurity discoveries and practices from other sectors to the rigorous needs of nuclear power applications and to address any unique challenges not being addressed elsewhere, especially where these can enable innovative nuclear power use cases.

Cybersecurity by Design

Cyber Technology Evaluation and Demonstration

Consider International Safeguards and Security Requirements

​Many advanced reactor vendors also consider international safeguards and security when designing their facility, in anticipation of international deployment. While focused on domestic safeguards, the ARSS program partners with NNSA to support vendors with global aspirations.


Validation of ARSS Research through Vendor Engagements

The ARSS program provides direct support to vendors to assist in developing MC&A and PPS approaches for their facilities. This work examines design-specific challenges associated with advanced reactors and generates creative solutions early in the development phase. Some engagements are in partnership with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) through the NEXUS portal. Lessons learned from this work are available to all vendors, to promote knowledge-sharing in a growing industry.

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Fall 2023 ARSS Program Review Presentations

Physical Protection Systems


Material Control and Accounting


Ben Cipiti, National Technical Director

Advanced Reactor Safeguards and Security Program

Sandia National Laboratories

(505) 284-8757                                                                                                 

Katya Le Blanc, Deputy National Technical Director

Advanced Reactor Safeguards and Security Program

Idaho National Laboratory

Dan Warner, Federal Program Manager

Advanced Reactor Safeguards and Security Program

Department of Nuclear Energy, Office of Nuclear Energy