- Newcleo Powers Up a Combination of Reactor Technologies
- Russia / Rosatom Announces Two Key Agreements In Drive To Deploy SMRs in Siberia
- X-Energy Brings South Korea’s Doosan Onboard for Engineering Services
- Signs of Progress with Saudi Arabia’s Plans for Commercial Nuclear Reactors
Newcleo Powers Up a Combination of Reactor Technologies
- The firm recently closed on a $118M placement by investors
- An existing patent portfolio supports newcleo’s technical vision
Newcleo, which bills itself as a clean and safe nuclear technology company, announced this week its incorporation with the closing of a $118 million initial capital raising and the acquisition of Hydromine Nuclear Energy S.à r.l. (HNE).
newcleo’s disruptive approach is based on the innovative application of several current technologies, including,
- Lead Fast Reactors (LFRs), which utilize lead as a coolant rather than water or sodium,
- Accelerator Driven Systems (ADSs), based on coupling a sub-critical reactor with a particle accelerator and
- The use of natural thorium fuel.
newcleo’s first project (Re-Act) is a small Lead Fast Reactor to satisfy commercial demand for small electric generating units on islands, in remote communities and for naval propulsion. The application of these technologies has the potential to:
- dramatically decrease the volume of radioactive waste produced, while eliminating the need of a geological repository for transuranic elements;
- much more effective use of existing uranium fuel, while moving toward the use of natural thorium;
- avoid nuclear accidents as the reactor core remains, at all times sub-critical, and the nuclear cascade can be instantly interrupted by switching off the accelerator.
newcleo’s core leadership team brings a decades-long track record in both scientific and entrepreneurial achievements:
- Stefano Buono as CEO, the former founder of the NASDAQ-listed Advanced Accelerator Applications (sold to Novartis in 2018);
- Luciano Cinotti as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO)
- Elisabeth Rizzotti as Chief Operating Officer and CEO of the Italian research operations.
- Laura Vergani – newcleo Chief Communications Officer
With corporate and financial headquarters in London, newcleo will initially base its technical team in Turin, Italy. There, over 100 ‘energy innovators’ will work under the oversight of a scientific committee with extensive nuclear energy experience.
newcleo’s first key development will be the LFR ‘Re-Act’ project; a liquid lead modular micro-reactor with significant commercial applications with a special focus on shipping. This prototype will be the realization of a concept known at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as the LFR-TL-X project1 (5-20 MWe) LFT-TX technical presentation (PDF file)
Within the next five years, the company intends to complete the design and realize a full-scale non-nuclear industrial prototype in collaboration with ENEA (Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development), that also shares one of newcleo’s patents.
As demonstrated by the successful acquisition of HNE (more on this below), newcleo’s strategy is to rapidly bring to market its projects and create a new industrial standard.
The first round of capital has stimulated international interest led by several visionary individuals and by some institutional investors, including New York-based Exor Seeds, and Turin-based LIFTT (a venture capital firm), and Club degli Investitori.
Two challenges facing newcleo are getting commercial quantities of HALEU fuel and access to a fast flux irradiation facility to qualify various materials especially steel alloys.
Remarking on launch day, Stefano Buono, newcleo CEO, commented: “In 1994, I started to work with Carlo Rubbia at CERN on approaches to producing safe, renewable and clean energy. I realized then that it would be possible to disrupt the energy sector with a scalable industrial application of our scientific findings.”
“Having created Advanced Accelerator Applications as a ground-breaking company in theragnostic nuclear medicine, I have founded newcleo with the same vision: to bring existing nuclear innovative technologies to market for the benefit of the whole world.”
Luciano Cinotti, CSO, commented: “I am grateful to Carlo Rubbia for having introduced to me the idea of using lead as a reactor coolant. It realizes the dream working on Fast Breeder Reactors. These allow a 100 times better utilization of fuel, and the elimination of the need of a geological repository for the transuranic elements.”
“The LFR does not come with the risks associated with the use of sodium, which instead is highly reactive in contact with air and water, thus allowing a more immediate and inexpensive approach to truly passive safety. In the Nineties, along with Stefano Buono’s CRS4 research group, I had the opportunity to investigate the potential of a nuclear sub-critical core controlled by a particle accelerator and later during the IP-Eurotrans project I also realized how safely it incinerates even minor actinides.”
The firm cites Nobel laureate Carlo Rubbia, who invented ADSs while he was Director General at CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), and who shares newcleo’s vision for clean nuclear energy and is personally supportive of newcleo’s mission.
About the Acquisition of HNE
HNE has been sold to newcleo by Hydromine Global Holdings S.à r.l., a company fully controlled by Hydromine Inc., a US-based sustainable energy company dedicated to developing and investing in power production through patient capital and innovation.
With offices in New York and Yaoundé, Hydromine’s multinational team has extensive experience in the international power sector, including Africa, for the origination, financing, construction, or operation of utility-scale power projects.
HNE team comprises several of the world’s leading fast reactor engineers who have originated a lead-cooled design (the LFR-AS-200 and LFR-TL-5) that after decades of simplification can offer safer and competitive new nuclear energy.
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Russia / Rosatom Announces Two Key Agreements In Drive To Deploy SMRs in Siberia
(NucNet) Moscow is backing ambitious plans to use new SMR technology in country’s far east. Russia has announced two significant agreements in its drive to use small modular reactor technology (SMRs) to bring reliable power to isolated areas in the country’s far east.
The first agreement is between Atomflot, a subsidiary of state nuclear corporation, and GDK Baimskaya, controlled by Kazakhstan’s Kaz Minerals Group, for the supply of electricity to the Baimskaya mining and processing plant in Chukotka, in the country’s far northeast.
For the Baimskaya reactors, Rosatom said it plans to use three floating nuclear plants, each employing a pair of the new 55-MWe RITM-200M reactors, a version of which is in service powering Russia’s icebreakers. A fourth unit would be held in reserve for use during repair or refuelling. (Rosatom briefing on RITM-200 reactors) According to Rosatom, the first reactors are already under construction by Atomenergomash.
Development Technology Roadmap for RITM-200 SMR. Table: Rosatom
Commissioning of the first two units is scheduled for the beginning of 2027 with a third unit following by the beginning of 2028 and a fourth by the beginning of 2031. Rosatom said the total investment in the energy supply project will be more than 150 billion rubles ($2bn, €1.7bn).
The mine is expected in operation about 2027, contingent on the regional government agreeing to share infrastructure development costs, in particular to finance and construct the power lines which is not a trivial effort as it will cover hundred of miles of frozen tundra.
The first two nuclear vessels are expected to be delivered to their working location at the project’s port, Cape Nagloynyn, Chaunskaya Bay and connected to 110 kV power lines leading via Bilibino to the Baimskaya mine over 400 km away by the end of 2026. The third unit is due to be connected at the end of 2027, increasing power supply to about 330 MWe.
Rosatom also signed an agreement with the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and the Republic of Sakha that could lead to the construction at a site in Yakutia of a land-based small modular reactor using Russia’s RITM-200N reactor technology.
Rosatom confirmed reports late last year that Russia was planning to build a land-based SMR in Sakha, also known as Yakutia, an autonomous Russian republic 4,000 km to the east of Moscow, between Siberia and Russia’s far east. Rosatom is aiming to begin construction in 2024 and commission the unit by 2028. A field survey has been completed at a potential site in Ust-Kuyga, a settlement on the Yana River, with a population of less than 1,000.
Kaz Minerals Group acquired the Baimskaya project for $900 million in cash and shares in January 2019. It is one of the world’s most significant undeveloped copper assets with the potential to become a large scale, low cost, open pit copper mine.
A spokesman for the firm told Russian news media the project is in a region identified by the Russian government as strategically important for economic development and is expected to benefit from the construction of “some state-funded power and transport infrastructure and the provision of tax incentives.”
Copper concentrate will be shipped to customers from the port of Pevek, 700 km to the north of the Baimskaya project. Pevek is where Russia’s first commercial floating nuclear plant, the Akademik Lomonosov, is docked and supplying energy for the remote port town.
The 21,000-tonne vessel has two KLT-40S reactor units with an electrical power generating capacity of 35 MW each, sufficient for a city with a population of around 200,000 people.
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X-Energy Brings South Korea’s Doosan Onboard for Engineering Services
(WNN) X-Energy released a press statemen that it has signed South Korea’s Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction to an engineering service contract for studies into the manufacture of major components for the Xe-100 small modular reactor (SMR). The South Korean company said participating in the project will help it to diversify its own SMR business.
Under the contract Doosan will support the development of the reactor by performing a study for its optimum design in terms of manufacturing major components. It will also conduct mock-up tests for critical manufacturing processes.
The Xe-100 is an 80 MWe (scalable to a 320 MWe four-pack) high-temperature gas-cooled (HTGR) reactor which uses TRISO (tristructural isotropic) particle fuel.
“SMRs are rapidly emerging in the world energy market because they contribute to carbon neutrality for confronting the climate change crisis,” said Na Ki-yong, head of Doosan Heavy Industries & Construction’s Nuclear Business Group division.
“Through participating in the design stage of X-energy’s HTGR, Doosan plans to participate in manufacturing of major equipment. In addition to our pressurized water reactor SMR business already in progress, this HTGR SMR enables us to diversify our SMR business.”
Doosan is also an equity investor in NuScale which is developing an LWR type SMR. Doosan will manufacture major components of the SMR for the firm.
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Signs of Progress with Saudi Arabia’s Plans for Commercial Nuclear Reactors
After a long period of relative quiet, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) announced this week that The King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) plans to hire the services of a global management service company to advise on Saudi Arabia’s first nuclear project in the next two months. The report was monitored on a CNBC Arabia TV channel.
According to the report, the global bidders for the project include Deloitte, Ernst & Young, HSBC and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The Kingdom has said it wants to tap nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and use nuclear power to diversify its energy mix. The firm in the past few years has downsized its ambitious plans to build 16 1000 MWe nuclear reactors to plans to build just two full size reactors. So far, the Kingdom has identified two possible sites for the full size power stations, on the Gulf coast at Umm Huwayd and Khor Duweihin.
A steep decline in the price of oil, which has sharply reduced income from fossil fuels, is the primary reason for this change. Unless the price of oil rises above $100/bbl and stays there for a decade or more, it is unlikely that KSA will expand its plan for full size reactors.
It isn’t known what, if any effect, the global COVID19 pandemic has had on plans for the tender. CDC recommends against travel to KSA. The agency says on its website, “because of the current situation in Saudi Arabia, even fully vaccinated travelers may be at risk for getting and spreading COVID-19 variants.”
With curtailed ambitions for full size reactors, its is still likely that KSA could turn to South Korea’s SMART small modular reactor, an LWR design, for desalination and power at multiple sites. The two nations have been working on it since 2011. The scope of the agreement was updated in 2020 with plans for setting up a manufacturing center in KSA and with additional plans to eventually offer the design for export.
Plans for release of a tender for the two reactors have been on hiatus for over a year with no real significant news about the tender until now. The release of a tender for management services suggests that KSA is looking for help in managing the massive procurement and possibly also in releasing a tender for an EPC to manage the construction of the reactors.
KACARE was established by the late King Abdullah in 2010 to build a sustainable future for the Kingdom through an alternative energy strategy supported by local industries.
Prior coverage on this blog
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