A Short Stack of Hot Nuclear News 5/23/20

  • StarCore Nuclear Gets A Boost from Partnership with Investment Bank
  • X-energy to Irradiate TRISO-X fuel with MIT’s Nuclear Reactor Lab
  • Kairos Power and Materion Partner To Develop And Supply Materials For Advanced Reactor Technology
  • NASA has Plans for Going Nuclear on Spaceflights to the Moon and Mars

StarCore Nuclear Scores an Investment Banker

starcore logoInvestment banker RWT Growth and StarCore Nuclear Canada have announced a partnership to bring low cost, clean nuclear energy to remote locations and industries that rely on less environmentally friendly sources power, such as diesel generators.

StarCore Nuclear Canada has engaged RWT Growth as the exclusive corporate and capital advisor for its global operations and StarCore’s imminent small modular nuclear reactor power project(s) in Canada. StarCore said the deal represents a benchmark investment both in terms of scale and innovation.

RWT Growth is a boutique corporate advisory and investment banking advisory banking firm with offices in Canada and London UK. StarCore and RWT have been working together since June 2019.

David Dabney, CEO of StarCore Nuclear, said: “RWT and Reece have been working with StarCore for several years and have become an integral part of our team. They brought a Canadian centric view to our investment structure that has opened a lot more doors and expanded the range of investment options.”

“StarCore represents a technology that can change the way we provide power and provide economic power solutions while dramatically lowering CO2,” said RWT Growth CEO Reece Tomlinson.

StarCore Nuclear Canada is a Generation IV High Temperature Gas Reactor technology that has been designed, optimized and patented for the purpose of providing small-scale, safe, low cost and low CO2-emission power production in remote locations.

The StarCore says its nuclear technology can significantly reduce reliance on diesel to produce power and by doing so reduce greenhouse gasses and lower the cost of energy production, which is critical for remote communities, mines, island communities and large industry.

Compared with usual nuclear reactor costs the firm says StarCore’s reactors will cost considerably less to build and run with only few staff required to maintain the reactors.

X-energy to Irradiate TRISO-X fuel with MIT’s Nuclear Reactor Lab

Nuclear reactor startup X-energy has reached an agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the Institute’s Nuclear Reactor Laboratory to use its research reactor to irradiate X-energy’s TRISO-X fuel. The irradiation process will provide data in support of licensing X-energy’s Xe-100 and other TRISO-based reactors.

“This research with MIT will provide confirmation of the performance and quality of our TRISO-X fuel,” said X-energy CEO Clay Sell.

Data from the project would enable licensing for the company’s Xe-100 small modular reactor. The 200 MWt (75 MWe) SMR will use TRISO-X fuel. The irradiation is scheduled to occur later this year.

X-energy’s reactors all use tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) particle fuel. For over three years, X-energy has manufactured a proprietary version, TRISO-X, which seals uranium particles in a protective coating, eliminating the meltdown risk associated with traditional nuclear plants.

“This is an incredible milestone for the X-energy team as we will now have irradiation tested fuel for the first time,” said Pete Pappano, PhD, Vice President of Fuel Production at X-energy.

The company’s Vice President of Fuel Production, Pete Pappano, described the first-time irradiation testing as an “incredible milestone” for the team.

X-energy was one of three companies – the others being BWX Technologies Inc and Westinghouse Government Services – selected earlier this year by the US Department of Defense to begin design work on a mobile nuclear reactor prototype.

Since 2009, X-energy has focused on designing state-of-the-art nuclear systems that have broad applicability – from large commercial plants to small, remote military applications, to nuclear thermal space propulsion concepts.

X-energy Awarded $6 Million DOE Grant

DOE Grant title: Advanced Operation & Maintenance Techniques Implemented in the Xe-100 Plant Digital Twin to Reduce Fixed O&M Cost – $6,000,000

X-energy’s digital twin project aims to reduce the fixed O&M cost of its advanced nuclear reactor design to $2/MWh. The project will use human factors engineering, probability risk assessment, hazard analysis, and security and maintenance evaluations to identify areas for optimization.

Further, X-energy will develop innovative ways to leverage advanced technologies—including automation, robotics, remote and centralized maintenance, and monitoring—to optimize staffing plans while ensuring optimal plant operation.

The team will develop two modeling frameworks to evaluate and validate these solutions. X-energy’s Immersive Environment Toolset is a multi-disciplinary 3D model that, when combined with virtual reality, will test techniques that optimize maintenance and security.

Kairos Power and Materion Partner To Develop And Supply Materials For Advanced Reactor Technology

Kairos Power and Materion Corporation (NYSE: MTRN) have announced the formation of a strategic collaboration to develop a reliable and cost-effective supply of salt coolant for high-temperature molten salt reactors. This coolant is a key component of Kairos Power’s fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature reactors (KP-FHR). Under the agreement, Materion will supply beryllium fluoride, expert technical consultation, key interfaces, and support services.

The KP-FHR, an advanced reactor technology being commercialized by Kairos Power, is a zero-carbon source of electricity with cost targets that are competitive with natural gas combined cycle plants. Kairos Power recognizes the commercial potential of this technology and will work with Materion to enable its success.

“The collaboration with Materion creates a powerful combination that builds on the unique capabilities of both companies,” said Dr. Michael Laufer, CEO and Co-Founder of Kairos Power.

“For decades, Materion has proven that they are a reliable supplier that can deliver specialized materials across many types of applications, including reactor technology, and this agreement will make a major impact in our ability to accelerate the deployment of our advanced reactor technology and to enable the world’s transition to clean energy.”

Jugal Vijayvargiya, President and CEO of Materion said, “The agreement underscores Materion’s ability as a leading solution provider of advanced materials to consistently leverage new market opportunities for our products and services, while supporting Kairos’ important mission of providing clean and sustainable energy for the future.”

About Kairos Power

Kairos Power is a nuclear energy technology and engineering company whose mission is to enable the world’s transition to clean energy with the ultimate goal of dramatically improving people’s quality of life while protecting the environment. To achieve this goal, Kairos Power is singularly focused on the commercialization of the fluoride salt-cooled, high temperature reactor, which has the potential to transform the U.S. clean energy landscape.

About Materion

Materion Corporation is headquartered in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. The Company, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, supplies advanced materials to global markets. Our unique product portfolio includes high performance alloys, beryllium products, clad metal strip, composite metals, ceramics, inorganic chemicals, microelectronics packaging materials, precision optics, thin film coatings and thin film deposition materials.

Kairos Power Collaborates with Argonne National Laboratory on $2.2 Million DOE Grant

Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) aims to reduce the O&M cost of the Kairos Power fluoride salt-cooled high temperature reactor through advanced sensing and automation. The team will develop advanced distributed sensing and data generation techniques to characterize critical components and systems.

Further, the ANL project will increase sensor diversity and develop multi-functional sensors measuring several process variables simultaneously. Finally, the ANL team will develop machine learning-based signal processing algorithms for automated analysis of sensor data. Accomplishing these objectives will reduce the number of advanced reactor staff, as well as repair and replacement costs. The proposed methods are aimed to achieve $2/MWh O&M costs.

NASA has Plans for Going Nuclear on Spaceflights to the Moon and Mars

  • Why NASA thinks nuclear reactors could supply power for human colonies in space
  • Simplicity is the key to designing reactors for missions to the moon and Mars

(American Chemical Society)  NASA is preparing to build colonies on the moon and, eventually, Mars. With NASA planning its next human mission to the moon in 2024, engineers are looking for options to power settlements on the lunar surface. According to a new article in Chemical & Engineering News, the weekly news magazine of the American Chemical Society, nuclear fission reactors have emerged as top candidates to generate electricity in space.

When it comes to powering an astronauts’ settlement, there are many factors to consider, writes correspondent Tien Nguyen in collaboration with ACS Central Science.

A key success factor is that the power source must be capable of being transported safely from Earth and of withstanding the harsh conditions of other worlds. Also, the nuclear power unit must be able to survive a failed launch intact with no release of radioactive material.

Past space missions have used solar power as a scalable and renewable source of electricity, but the dark craters of the moon or the dusty surface of Mars don’t not offer enough light. The limited lifespans of the battery and fuel cell technologies typically relegate them to backup options.

Nuclear devices that run on decay heat from plutonium-238 have been used to power spacecraft since the 1960s, including Mars rovers and the space probes Voyager and Cassini, but they don’t provide enough power for a settlement. I

In contrast, nuclear fission reactors that are based on HEU U-235, could provide a reliable power source for a small space settlement for years at a time.

NASA’s long term plan is to create a nuclear reactor for space travel and settlement. The reactor uses a core containing molybdenum and highly enriched uranium. The reactor uses nuclear fission to generate heat, which is converted to electricity by simple piston-driven engines.

The prototype, which was tested in 2018, produced up to 5 kilowatts of electricity. NASA hopes to optimize the technology to achieve the desired 10-kilowatt output.

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