Assystem to cooperate with Naarea on micro-reactor

03 December 2021

French engineering group Assystem has signed a cooperation agreement with newly-created French micro-reactor developer Naarea to build its ultra-compact eXtra Small Modular Reactor (XSMR). Dassault Systèmes is to supply Naarea with a cloud-based platform on which to virtually design the 1 to 40 MW molten salt reactor. Naarea expects the first units of XSMR to be produced by 2030.

(Image: Naarea)

Under the agreement, Assystem will provide project management, permitting, integration and engineering services. It will provide Naarea with "its historical experience in the nuclear sector as well as its expertise in digital engineering aimed at better controlling the complexity of projects through the management and use of industrial data."

Assystem will develop a digital twin of the reactor to model and simulate its behaviour. This twin will enable rapid convergence towards the optimal design, provide critical elements for validating the design and enable the rapid launch of the construction of the physical prototype, Naarea said. In addition, Assystem will draw on its knowledge of highly regulated environments to support Naarea in the development of this new technology in compliance within the established nuclear framework.

Naarea was formally established on 29 November by co-founders Jean-Luc Alexandre and Ivan Gavriloff to develop and promote the XSMR design. The company says it already benefits from the support of private shareholders, which will be completed soon by a fundraising which is being finalised.

It says its ultra-compact molten salt reactor uses "the untapped potential of used radioactive materials, and thorium, unused mining waste." Naarea noted, "The current stocks of these two wastes will supply the energy needs of humanity for thousands of years, and reconcile humanity with its future."

Once it develops the XSMR, Naarea intends to target applications in areas such as transportation, agriculture and smart buildings. The company says that, because of the compact size of its reactor and because there is no need for it to be grid-connected, the XSMR can "be deployed as close as possible to regions, to match energy demand as closely as possible and allow the control of security of supply, at the service of industries and communities."

"The agreement we are signing with Assystem today is the concrete realisation of a collaboration that has been underway for several months and is already bearing fruit," said Naarea co-founder Jean-Luc Alexandre. "It is a fundamental step in the progress of the Naarea project, alongside a reference player who supports and adheres to our desire to participate in the sustainable transformation of our societies by mobilising consciences around this equitable ideal."

Assystem COO Stéphane Aubarbier said: "We are delighted to formalise our commitment to Naarea and to support this innovative and disruptive project. Assystem's mission is to develop decarbonised sources of electricity production throughout the world to combat climate change. As such, advanced modular reactors represent an additional technology alongside high-power reactors, SMRs and renewable energies to accelerate the energy transition. We are proud to provide Naarea with our nuclear and digital expertise to support its growth."

Dassault Systèmes yesterday announced that Naarea will use its 3DEXPERIENCE platform on the cloud to virtually design the XSMR.

"In this unified virtual environment, Naarea can collaborate to design the reactor's system, simulate its operation, and validate it with end-to-end traceability and design quality," Dassault Systèmes said. "As the platform is based on the cloud, Naarea could access the virtual twin from anywhere at any time, and increase the number of users as needed."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News