NUCLEAR developer Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) UK, part of a US-based company, has selected Jacobs to support the design and development of its micro modular reactor (MMR), which is expected to support the transition away from fossil fuels. This follows news that the UK government has awarded USNC UK funding to build a demonstration reactor in the country.
USNC’s MMR energy system is a high-pressure reactor that uses TRISO particle fuel – an encapsulated fuel for nuclear fission – and is cooled using helium. The system is designed to replace gas plants that are currently used to balance grids when there is insufficient power from intermittent renewable sources. Jacobs said that the energy system meets the highest safety standards and emits no carbon during operation.
The reactor can provide power to urban areas, large industrial users, or off-grid locations. USNC has said that its MMR is a solid fit to decarbonise UK industrial energy demand driven by process heat, and the UK demonstrator will focus on producing high-temperature process heat for industrial applications.
USNC already has demonstration projects underway in Canada and the US and plans to deploy its MMR energy system in North America and Europe. Match funded by USNC, the £22.5m (US$28.9m) grant from the government will allow the company to continue developing its UK demonstrator by the early 2030s.
Jacobs will support the front-end engineering design programme as a leading subcontractor to USNC. Work will include reactor analysis and will also be for a refuelling system, primary and secondary systems, safety systems, associated testing facilities, human factors, safety case and security, licensing and regulation, and overall system integration and preparation for delivering the demonstrator model.
Karen Wiemelt, senior vice president of energy, security, and technology for Jacobs, said that USNC’s high-temperature reactor has the potential to assist the world’s energy transition and take nuclear power into a new era.
She added: “With 60 years of experience in research, design, and operational support for high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, Jacobs is ideally placed to support USNC through a range of scientific, engineering, and program management capabilities."
USNC was awarded the £22.5m UK funding in Phase B of the government’s Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) Research, Development and Demonstration Programme. The programme aims to demonstrate high temperature gas reactor technology by the early 2030s, in time for AMRs to support net zero by 2050.
USNC UK submitted its application to the programme in March 2023, in partnership with Jacobs. The winners were announced this month as the government launched the public body Great British Nuclear to help develop UK nuclear power.
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