The prototype of a mobile nuclear reactor under development at the Department of Defense will be powered by advanced fuel sourced from within the U.S., the project lead said last week.

The Project Pele micro-reactor prototype “will use fully unencumbered nuclear fuel,” program manager Jeff Waksman said in an emailed statement Friday. The Pele reactor, a high-temperature gas reactor designed to be easily transportable, will use high-assay low enriched uranium (HALEU) tristructural isotopic (TRISO) fuel.

Whether the DoD’s future deployed nuclear reactors would require domestically-produced fuel, Waksman said, “is an unresolved policy/political question.” A domestic source of HALEU “is crucial to enable the reliable and flexible deployment of military microreactors in the future,” he said.

This comes as DoD’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) announced in an April 13 press release that the Project Pele reactor would be built and demonstrated at Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho. For the micro-reactor’s design, SCO is considering two competing concepts from BWXT Advanced Technologies [BWXT] and X-Energy. The agency planned to announce the winning design later this spring.

Pele, as a single prototype, hasn’t been cleared by DoD for operation. The agency said last week that it would make such a decision “at a future date.”