Jacobs selected to support UK National Nuclear Laboratory’s high-temperature gas-cooled reactor

Article by Amanda Jasi

THE UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) has selected Jacobs to help develop novel high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HGTR) technology that could support the decarbonisation of heavy industry such as steel and cement.

HGTRs are advanced modular reactor (AMR) technology that offer the ability to supply heating at around 1,000°C without the risk of reactor meltdown. The technology is being developed across the globe, with China announcing in 2022 that it had connected the world’s first HGTR to the grid, which entered commercial operation last December.

NNL is working with the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) on the UK’s first modular HTGR, focusing on developing the technology for industrial applications.

As NNL’s chosen multidiscipline design consultant, Jacobs will review initial designs and delivery plans for the HTGR. This work will include performing detailed engineering design review to ensure regulatory compliance; reviewing market demand and end-use cases for HTGR technology; supporting engagement with UK regulators; and helping develop cost and schedule estimates as part of a broader investment case submission to HM Treasury.

NNL and JAEA’s work is funded by the UK’s Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), which last year awarded them £15m (US$19.1m) in Phase B of the AMR Research, Development and Demonstration (AMR RD&D) programme. The programme aims to demonstrate HTGR technology by the early 2030s.

If the partners receive further support from DESNZ, the next phase of the project will see detailed design, manufacturing, construction, and commissioning of an HTGR demonstrator.

“This is a groundbreaking project,” said Emma Vernon, vice-president for government and new build at NNL. She expects the UK-Japan reactor design will “help UK industry to adapt to a changing world and take a step closer to achieving our net zero goals”.

Last year, Jacobs was selected to support the design and development of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s micro modular reactor, which also received UK funding via the AMR RD&D programme.

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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