Agreements for microreactor deployment in Finland and further afield

16 December 2022

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Finland's Lappeenranta University of Technology to explore the deployment of a Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR) in Lappeenranta. Meanwhile, USNC has signed an MoU with Canadian privately held investment firm Portland Holdings Investco Limited to promote the MMR in the Middle East, North Africa and the Caribbean regions.

The MMR design (Image: USNC)

Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) plans to deploy an MMR as a research and test reactor at or near its campus in the city of Lappeenranta in southern Finland. The reactor will be operated as a training, research and demonstration facility. It will be connected to the district heating network of Lappeenrannan Energia, the local municipal utility, to provide carbon-free district heating to the university, city and surrounding area.

The MMR research and test reactor will test new technologies to decarbonise energy production, microgrid integration, and help train the future workforce through hands-on experience with a next-generation high-temperature gas-cooled microreactor.

"The safety and design of the micro-modular reactor makes partnering with Ultra Safe Nuclear the ideal choice for LUT and for Finland as we work toward decarbonised municipal and industrial heat supply and a carbon-neutral world," said Juhani Hyvärinen, professor of nuclear engineering at LUT.

"The work LUT is doing in transitioning to a carbon-neutral world is important, and the micro-modular reactor is the perfect research and training facility to advance their knowledge and experience - especially when it comes to decarbonising district heating systems," said USNC founder and CEO Francesco Venneri.

USNC's MMR is a 15 MW thermal, 5 MW electrical high-temperature gas-cooled reactor, drawing on operational experience from reactors developed by China, Germany, Japan and the USA. It consists of two plants: the nuclear plant that generates heat, and the adjacent power plant that converts heat into electricity or provides process heat for industrial applications. The USNC system is designed to be simple, with minimal operation and maintenance requirements, and no on-site fuel storage, handling or processing. The MMR uses TRISO fuel in prismatic graphite blocks and has a sealed transportable core.

The MMR is at an advanced licensing stage at the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Chalk River Laboratories campus in Ontario. The project is a collaboration between USNC and Ontario Power Generation through the jointly owned Global First Power Limited Partnership.

The project at LUT joins the growing list of global training, test, and research MMR projects at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the USA and at McMaster University in Canada.

Exploring new markets

Seattle, Washington-based USNC has also signed an MoU with Burlington, Ontario-based Portland Holdings.

Under the terms of the agreement, Portland, its affiliates, and related entities will invest up to USD350 million in USNC, aiming to bring MMR technology solutions to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the Caribbean regions.

"Our investment in Ultra Safe Nuclear will also contribute to significant milestones in the advancement of the MMR initial deployment sites at Chalk River, Canada, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the United States," said Portland Holdings President and Chairman Michael Lee-Chin. "This partnership represents our commitment to investing in innovative solutions and addressing humankind's most unmet need - climate change."

"We are seeing high and growing interest in our Fully Ceramic Micro-Encapsulated fueled, micro reactor solutions for a number of carbon-free power and heat applications," said Venneri. "Partnering with global financial leader Portland will give USNC a tremendous boost to meet this market demand worldwide. Portland's corporate vision 'Doing Well by Doing Good' is well aligned with our mission to foster growth and sustainable economic benefits for the United States, Canada, and countless countries across the globe."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News