UK government funding for the development of advanced reactors: Nuclear Policies

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September 02, 2022

The British government has announced funding of 3.3 million pounds ($3.8 million) to support the development of advanced nuclear technologies. Six projects to develop Advanced Modular Reactors (AMR) in the UK have been selected to receive total funding of £2.5 million.

(Image: BEIS)

The £3.3m funding through the Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development and Demonstration (AMR RD&D) program – part of the £385m Advanced Nuclear Fund – will support the development of innovative nuclear technologies at the UK, such as High Temperature Gas Reactors (HTGR). It aims to demonstrate HTGR technology by the early 2030s.

Funding for the AMR RD&D program has been split into two lots. The first is for projects developing advanced modular HTGR technologies, with up to GBP 500,000 available for each project. The second is for projects developing coated particulate fuel (CPF) for HTGR technologies, with up to £250,000 available for each project.

Funding totaling £2.5 million has now been announced for six Preliminary Engineering Design (Pre-FEED) studies in Phase A of the AMR RD&D programme.

HTGR-Technologies

Four organizations – EDF Energy Nuclear Generation Limited; National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL); U-Battery Developments Ltd and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) – received funding in Batch 1 for pre-FEED studies for the development of advanced modular HTGR technologies.

EDF receives GBP 499,737 to focus on end-user needs to determine which reactor design features are best suited for an HTGR demonstration in the 2030s. EDF is offering the Hartlepool Heat Hub as the host site for the first demonstration HTGR in the UK.

NNL is receiving GBP 497,495 to coordinate a UK-Japan team (NNL, Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and Jacobs) to leverage a proven HTGR baseline from Japan and adopt a innovative in its design, construction, construction and operation. The project aims to provide an end-to-end solution led by energy users while bringing together national and international supply chains.

“We are delighted that the UKJ-HTR has been selected for this phase of development of the next generation of nuclear reactors in the UK,” said NNL CEO Paul Howarth. “Unleashing innovation is fundamental to our work as a national laboratory. We have state-of-the-art facilities for our scientists and technologists, enabling them to develop the pioneering solutions, skills and capabilities needed to deliver the UKJ-HTR.

U-Battery is awarded GBP 499,845 to determine the optimal size, type, cost and delivery method for a U-Battery Advanced Modular Reactor demonstration. The U-Battery AMR aims to provide a locally integrated, low-carbon source of heat and power that can replace the use of fossil fuels.

“This is the exciting next step for U-Battery, and demonstrates the government’s understanding that our technology can be a solution for hard-to-decarbonize sectors, as well as hydrogen and synthetic fuel production, and cost-effectively with its simple, modular design,” said Steve Threlfall, General Manager of U-Battery.

USNC UK Ltd’s project receives GBP 498,312 to build on USNC’s existing Modular Micro Reactor (MMR) design as the basis to develop and demonstrate a modified MMR+ design better suited to current and projected future process heat demands of British industry. This includes a demonstration of hydrogen production and sustainable aviation fuel.

Coated particle fuel

Under Lot 2, two organizations were awarded contracts to produce pre-FEED studies for the development of CPFs for HTGR technologies.

Springfields Fuels Ltd is awarded GBP 243,311 for a project, in conjunction with Urenco Limited, to determine the most efficient route for the safe and reliable supply of CPF, in conjunction with Urenco Limited, to support the range of technologies Potential HTGRs that could come forward in the UK. This study will focus on the UCO TRISO core as the standard CPF fuel type for contemporary HTGR designs, but will design the installation for maximum flexibility to manufacture a wide range of variations on this fuel.

NNL is receiving £250,000 to provide domestic commercial fuel supply starting with the first fuel load for the HTGR demonstration. NNL, Urenco Limited and JAEA will collectively work together to develop CPF to full-scale commercialization, to support HTGR technologies that will enhance the security of the UK’s energy supply and enable UK fuel to be delivered to a market global export.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which is providing the funding, said: “The funding will support early-stage innovation for six winning projects, helping to attract private investment and by supporting the creation of new highly qualified green jobs.”

In addition, the government is providing up to £830,000 to the Nuclear Regulatory Office and the Environment Agency to develop their capacity and consider innovative regulatory approaches for HTGRs.

BEIS will work with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and its wider domain to explore how to leverage their knowledge, sites and operational experience to inform the development, deployment and operation of the demonstration and to support the objectives. BEIS policies in this area.

Energy Minister Greg Hands said: “This investment will help unlock the potential for new nuclear reactors in the UK, as we advance plans to boost clean, cutting-edge and local technologies for our energy security, while reducing long-term bills.”

Research and writing by World Nuclear News



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