Plans to deploy next-gen micro nuclear reactor in the US by 2026

The micro modular reactor is a fourth-generation nuclear energy system that is expected to deliver ‘safe, clean and cost-effective electricity and heat’

Pathway to COP26 report

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) is proposing to partner with Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and US industry to deploy next-generation modular reactors over the next six years.

The university plans to demonstrate a single micro modular reactor (MMR), operated as a training, research and test reactor and to partially repower the Abbott coal-fired power station by providing district heating and power to the UIUC campus.

It plans to develop the first generation of commercial micro reactor operators and will be directly involved in MMR design and integration.

USNC says the MMR Energy System – a fourth-generation nuclear energy system – is a “zero carbon nuclear power plant”, integrating one or several standardised micro reactors with a heat storage unit and the adjacent plant for power conversion and utilisation, expected to deliver “safe, clean and cost-effective electricity and heat”.

It is a small high-temperature gas-cooled reactor generating 15MW or 30MW of thermal capacity that can be used as a standalone power plant or as part of microgrids that include intermittent renewables such as solar or wind or to provide carbon-free heat for co-located industrial applications or for high-efficiency hydrogen production.

USNC is also proposing to place a micro-reactor power plant at INL to support the demonstration of the laboratory’s integrated energy systems, including carbon-free production of hydrogen and other zero carbon energy applications.

UIUC and INL are proposing to host the Ultra Safe nuclear micro reactors under the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Programme (ARDP).

USNC CEO Francesco Venneri said: “Our breakthrough technology, grounded in decades of work at places like INL and the University of Illinois and our commercial strategy, based on private investments in multiple projects, will make the MMR solution affordable and widely available. Our rapid prototyping will allow the development of the next-generation MMR in the US with its manufacturing ecosystem already in place in 2026.

“We are pleased to participate in the ARDP opportunity with a complete micro reactor solution that achieves Congress’ goals of commercial nuclear power in five to seven years, leading to the deployment of carbon-free, American-manufactured energy assets throughout the world in the very near term.”

Chancellor Robert J. Jones of the UIUC added: “We look forward to being the first university to demonstrate this micro modular reactor and the contributions it can make in nuclear power research and in other areas like advanced materials and the hydrogen economy – all of which are crucial to a clean energy future.

“This technology is set to help our campus meet its carbon-neutrality goals and drive great, world-changing discoveries. It would be an incredible win for our research enterprise and our campus sustainability efforts.”

If you enjoyed this story you can sign up to our weekly email for Energy Live News – and if you’re interested in hearing more about the journey to net zero by 2050, you can also sign up to the future Net Zero newsletter. 

Latest Podcast