Cavendish Nuclear, X-energy to collaborate on HTGR deployment in U.K.

May 13, 2022, 9:34AMNuclear News

A cross-section view of X-energy’s Xe-100 reactor. (Image: X-energy)

U.K. nuclear services company Cavendish Nuclear has signed a memorandum of understanding with U.S. reactor and fuel-design engineering firm X-energy to act as its deployment partner for high-temperature, gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) in the United Kingdom.

Headquartered in Rockville, Md., X-energy is the developer of the Xe-100, an 80-MWe reactor with a modular design permitting it to be scaled into a “four-pack” 320-MWe power plant. As a pebble bed HTGR, the Xe-100 would use TRISO particles encased in graphite pebbles as the fuel and helium as the coolant.

According to a May 11 joint statement from the companies, development and deployment of HTGRs in the United Kingdom would support an increase in the nation’s energy security, contribute toward the government’s net-zero-by-2050 commitment, and create considerable opportunities for the U.K. nuclear supply chain.

In addition, the companies said the new agreement “complements Cavendish Nuclear’s support to all three nuclear streams in the government’s energy security strategy: large gigawatt reactors, small modular reactors, and advanced modular reactors, such as HTGRs with the capability to focus on industrial heat and hydrogen.”

From the C suite: “This is an exciting opportunity for Cavendish Nuclear and X-energy to bring together the collective breadth and depth of our expertise and experience to forge opportunities to develop and deploy HTGRs in the U.K.,” said Mick Gornall, Cavendish Nuclear’s managing director. “The U.K. government’s choice of HTGRs as its preferred technology for the Advanced Modular Reactor Research, Development, and Demonstration Program gives us the opportunity to explore the significant contribution X-energy’s technology can make to decarbonizing the wider energy sector.”

Clay Sell, X-energy’s chief executive officer, said, “Cavendish Nuclear is an experienced and proven nuclear innovation leader with the capabilities and expertise to combine their best-in-class deployment with X-energy’s unparalleled technology at scale to meet the needs of customers, consumers, and businesses across the U.K. Transatlantic collaboration is a critical part of strengthening global energy security and reliability, and this partnership can help pave the way to safer and cleaner energy for all.”

In case you missed it: The U.K. government late last year confirmed its selection of the HTGR for Britain’s £170 million (about $208 million) AMR Research, Development, and Demonstration Program. Greg Hands, minister for energy, clean growth, and climate change, delivered the news on December 2, 2021, via a speech at the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference. “Following evaluation of responses received,” he said, “I’m pleased to announce today that we will focus on HTGRs as the technology choice for the program moving forward—with the ambition for this to lead to a demonstration by the early 2030s.”

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