Idaho National Laboratory, University of Illinois and Ultra Safe Nuclear Co. collaborate on advanced reactor proposal

Nuclear Power Plant

Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. (USNC) established partnerships with Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) to build and test the company’s advanced Modular Micro Reactor (MMR). The three companies jointly developed a proposal for submission to the Department of Energy (DOE) for its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (Risk Reduction).

At INL, USNC has proposed to construct a micro-reactor power plant to support the demonstration of INL’s Integrated Energy Systems (IES). The installation would be used synergistically with renewables to produce carbon-free “green” hydrogen by thermo-chemical and thermo-electric processes, as well as other zero-carbon energy applications. According to USNC, the MMR unit will produce 30 MWth and address the goal to provide carbon-free nuclear heat to industrial applications in the DOE Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).

At the University of Illinois, USNC has proposed construction of a single MMR operated as a training, research and test reactor, and to partially replace power from the University’s power station through carbon-free district heating. The 15-MWth unit will allow the University to perform fundamental research and test new technologies to de-carbonize energy production, provide practical solutions for microgrid integration and train a future workforce through hands-on experience with a next-generation advanced reactor. The Illinois reactor will be the first Gen IV reactor deployed at a university, and the first new U.S. university reactor in nearly 30 years.

Demonstration of Ultra Safe Nuclear’s MMR technology in the U.S. aims to bring a new level of affordability and reliability to clean power generation, where smaller nuclear plants can be deployed for tens of millions, not billions, of dollars. Costs of micro nuclear technology, like renewable energy, are expected to drop rapidly as manufacturing techniques advance and smaller and safer nuclear reactors gain wider acceptance.

“It’s the next step that needs to be taken before nuclear energy is more widely used. Other benefits of the MMR are lower cost to build, being transportable and being scalable; for example, a facility can have multiple micro reactors, but not all have to be built at once, and more can be added if demand increases. INL could be a customer of power from these micro reactors,” Corey McDaniel, director of industry engagement for INL, said.

“These installations and the many others we expect to follow will create large numbers of high-quality jobs in operations, construction, and manufacturing,” said Mark Mitchell, senior vice-president of commercial reactors for USNC. “There is a lot of excitement around nuclear and renewables working together and our deployment at the INL would be the first example of this synergy, working at high efficiency and temperatures that are extremely useful to industry.”

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