New agreements look to nuclear technology to decarbonise industrial operations

25 April 2024

Terrestrial Energy has signed an agreement with Schneider Electric to collaborate on developing zero-carbon energy solutions for industrial facilities and large data centres based on Terrestrial's Integral Molten Salt Reactor, while L&H Industrial, Inc and BWXT Advanced Technologies LLC are to work together on the potential deployment of BWXT's Advanced Nuclear Reactor to provide heat and power for industrial users, beginning in Wyoming.

Irish (3rd from lett) and Lawrence (4th from left) with members of the Schneider team pictured at the CERAWeek conference, where the MoU was signed (Image: Terrestrial)

The memorandum of understanding between Terrestrial and Schneider Electric, a supplier of digital control systems for energy management, will see the two companies jointly develop commercial opportunities and advance the deployment of IMSR plants.

The IMSR's heat and power supply has many industrial uses that require reliable, baseload zero-carbon energy supply at near-site locations, such as dedicated power for large data centres and cogeneration for heavy industrial facilities, Terrestrial said. The collaboration with Schneider "offers solutions to the major energy challenges faced by data centre operators and many heavy industries operating a wide range of industrial processes such as hydrogen, ammonia, aluminum, and steel production", it added. These high-energy users require low-cost, reliable and emissions-free baseload supply.

"Schneider Electric's value proposition is to leverage Digital Twin technology across the full IMSR project lifecycle and during operations - resulting in a reduction of project time to market and cost as well as more efficient operations," said Gary Lawrence, president of Power & Grid Systems at Schneider Electric.

Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy, said Schneider Electric is a supplier with capabilities central to the reliable and efficient operation of IMSR plants. "The IMSR's use of next-generation fission technology - Generation IV molten salt technology - delivers the transformative improvements in the commercial performance of nuclear energy necessary to meet the fast-growing demand for zero-carbon energy across many industrial applications and markets. We look forward to our partnership with Schneider Electric at this exciting time," he said.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission last year completed Phase 2 of its vendor design review process for the IMSR, finding no fundamental barriers to licensing the reactor for commercial use, in what Terrestrial described as the first-ever regulatory review of a commercial nuclear plant using molten salt reactor technology and the first advanced, high-temperature fission technology to complete a review of this type.

L&H and BWXT announce partnership

L&H said the joint development agreement it has signed with BWXT is aimed at deploying microreactors to provide heat and power for industrial users and is a response to the growing demand from the domestic industrial sector for reliable, resilient, affordable, and low-emission energy. The company, which specialises in industrial solutions for mining and other heavy industries, said it is working with BWXT to create a "new standard for cogeneration by delivering the best solutions for energy intensive industries requiring heat and electricity."

Last year, BWXT announced a two-phase, two-year contract with the Wyoming Energy Authority (WEA) to assess the viability of deploying small-scale nuclear reactors in the US state The new collaborative effort will start in Wyoming and neighbouring states, and will focus on the development and potential deployment of BWXT's Advanced Nuclear Reactor (BANR) in cogeneration sets. It will build on groundwork laid by the Idaho National Laboratory's Frontiers Initiative and the WEA Governor's Matching Fund project that is helping pave the way for new models of microreactor deployment, L&H said. The agreement "opens doors to new technological frontiers, allowing the company to participate in both the supply chain and the development and deployment of advanced nuclear reactors," it added.

"Collaborating with BWXT represents a unique opportunity for L&H to lead the way in the nuclear energy supply chain and further develop Evercore Energy, the operational company that will own, operate and lease the energy provided by these groundbreaking cogen sets," L&H Industrial President and CEO Mike Wandler said.

According to reports in the Wyoming press, Evercore Energy was established last year as a business unit of L&H to build up a nuclear services business from scratch.

"We are look forward to combining our expertise and know-how with BWXT to create the business and financial models that will meet the energy needs, reliability and resiliency of mining and other critical industries in our region," Evercore Managing Director Marcio Paes Barreto said.

"L&H Industrial and BWXT have developed a strong relationship as we have already been working on a project together for the Wyoming Energy Authority," said Joe Miller, president of BWXT Advanced Technologies. "This next phase in our relationship with L&H Industrial gives us both the opportunity to develop and deploy high temperature gas micro-reactor technology for the mining and heavy industries in and around Wyoming."

WEA Executive Director Rob Creager said L&H is a "natural fit" to work with BWXT: "We have always known that the opportunity to create a nuclear industry in Wyoming wasn't just about producing more energy but bringing the entire supply chain of the industry to our state - energy produced in Wyoming with components made in Wyoming."

BWXT describes the BANR as a modular, factory-fabricated system that is small and light enough to be transported via rail, ship or truck and that can deliver 50 MW of thermal nuclear reactor power, using high-temperature gas reactor technology with inherent safety features and a high working fluid temperature. It provides flexible options for energy output - including electricity, steam for process heat, or both (cogeneration).

Researched and written by World Nuclear News