Next-generation nuclear technology including high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) and micro-modular reactors (MMR) have received government backing.

Aimed at providing intense heat to industry, as well as electricity for the grid, the six advanced modular reactor (AMR) projects received £2.5m in government funding today (2 September).

With novel and innovative fuels, coolants and technologies, AMRs typically generate higher temperatures than conventional reactors. That low-carbon heat could be a cost-effective solution for decarbonising industry, according to the government. Potential applications include manufacturing of metals, ceramics and chemicals, as well as production of hydrogen and synthetic fuels.

The funding will support ‘early-stage innovation’ for the six projects. The government hopes it will attract private investment and support the creation of new, highly skilled jobs.

The projects include EDF Energy Nuclear Generation in Gloucester and Hartlepool, which aims to determine reactor design characteristics for a HTGR demonstration in the 2030s, and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation UK in St Helens, Merseyside, which will build on an existing MMR design with a modified reactor that could provide heat for hydrogen and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) production.

In Slough, U-Battery Developments aims to determine the optimum size, type, cost and delivery method for a new HTGR suitable for demonstration in the UK.

“This is U-Battery’s exciting next stage, and demonstrates the government’s understanding that our technology can be a solution for difficult to decarbonise sectors, as well as hydrogen and synthetic fuel production, and in a cost-effective manner due to its simple, modular design,” said Steve Threlfall, U-Battery general manager.

“We will continue to work closely with BEIS (the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy) towards delivering a first-of-a-kind reactor in the UK in the late 2020s, in good time to make a real difference to achieving net zero by 2050 targets and helping to ensure the health and sustainability of global communities.”

The AMR funding is a “key step” towards accelerating homegrown nuclear power to strengthen the UK’s energy security, the government announcement said.

Energy minister Greg Hands said: “This investment will help unlock the potential for new nuclear reactors in the UK, as we drive forward plans to boost clean, cutting-edge, homegrown technologies for our energy security, while driving down bills in the long term.”

The government will also provide up to £830,000 to the Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency to develop capability and consider innovative regulatory approaches to HTGRs, supporting plans for a UK demonstrator by the early 2030s.

Extracted from IMechE website - read more here

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