By Faith Ashmore, Benzinga
For decades, nuclear energy has been a contentious topic with policymakers and citizens alike. London-based newcleo has the solution to years of hesitation– it is an innovative nuclear energy tech company that is developing a reactor that runs on nuclear waste.
As the world pivots to clean energy to mitigate the impact of climate change, the enduring question remains – what clean energy source is the most reliable and efficient? When you look at the science involved, nuclear is an incredibly reliable energy source with a massive output.
Of all clean energy sources, nuclear energy has the highest capacity factor. This means that nuclear power plants are producing maximum power for the most amount of time; nuclear produces maximum power more than 93% of the time during the year. For comparison, solar has a 25% capacity power, and geothermal, which is second to nuclear, only has a 73% capacity factor.
One of the major concerns about nuclear energy is the permanent disposal and maintenance of nuclear waste, which is toxic. Simply put, people don’t want nuclear waste in their backyard. This is why newcleo is such a compelling company.
How newcleo Is The Game Changer
Historically, like the space industry, the nuclear energy industry has been primarily government-funded. However, it is now driven in more significant measure by private capital. newcleo, a small company launched in September 2021, looks to be changing the playing field.
As an innovator in the field of nuclear energy, newcleo is taking private funding and utilizing a large team of nuclear experts to develop the latest generation of nuclear reactors and provide a path to combating climate change. newcleo is well on its way toward generating safe, clean, and sustainable nuclear energy. The company is combining existing accessible technologies at competitive costs.
newcleo is designing and building a Generation IV nuclear reactor to take advantage of nuclear waste and in turn, maximize the full lifecycle of uranium. Their reactor is a lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) fuelled with MOX (mixed Plutonium - Uranium Oxides). The reactor turns existing waste from plutonium, uranium, and other radioactive materials into clean energy without needing to mine or extract new resources.
The fast reactor technology is what allows reactors to use MOX as fuel, and extract energy from it, reducing existing waste volume. Not only does this process create energy and eliminate waste, but it also supports energy independence for domestic economies.
Lead characteristics coupled with newcleo’s design provisions guarantee high safety features. The envisioned 200 MWe Small Modular Reactors will drive down costs while reducing deployment times that are rolled out faster than legacy equipment. newcleo aims to change the way people think about nuclear power with waste, safety, and cost at the forefront of all that they do.
newcleo currently has a team of more than 200 employees, and the scientific team is led by a six-strong committee with a combined 300+ years worth of experience in fast reactors. The company is looking to expand its team to 500 employees (many nuclear physicists and engineers) by 2023 across its offices: the headquarters in London, UK, experimental facilities and R&D center in Italy, and a subsidiary in Lyon, France.
The company is on track to have a non-nuclear prototype ready in five years, a full-scaled nuclear industrial prototype in seven years, and a small modular industry prototype ready in ten years.
While newcleo is certainly not the only nuclear energy company on the scene, they have the expertise and funding to be a leader in the industry. Companies like Oklo and Last Energy have significantly fewer staff and are designing smaller reactors than newcleo. It will be exciting to see how newcleo leverages its brain power and funding to advance next-gen technology and make nuclear power safer, stronger, and more accessible.
This article was originally published on Benzinga here.
Privately funded and headquartered in London, newcleo was launched in 2021 – and since raised a total of EUR 400m – to be an innovator in the field of nuclear energy. Its mission is to generate safe, clean, economic and practically inexhaustible energy for the world, through a radically innovative combination of existing, accessible technologies.
With visionary co-founders, newcleo capitalises on thirty years of R&D activity in metal-cooled fast reactors and liquid-lead cooling systems, and our senior management and advisory team can boast hundreds of years in cumulative hands-on experience. The company can count newcleo’s technology, mostly comprising a novel approach to already qualified solutions, addresses equally well the three challenges affecting the nuclear industry to date: waste, safety and cost.
Waste: fast reactors are capable of efficient “burning” (i.e., fission) of depleted uranium, plutonium and Minor Actinides. When operated with MOX fuel generated from reprocessed nuclear waste, newcleo’s reactors not only ensure sustainability by closing the fuel cycle, but can also boost energy independence.
Safety: lead-cooled reactors operate at atmospheric pressure. The properties of lead (thermal capacity and conductivity, boiling point, chemically inert, low neutron activation, shielding properties) together with newcleo’s passive safety systems ensure very high levels of safety
Cost: newcleo’s reactor design has been optimised over the last 20 years leading to the concept of an ultra-compact and transportable 200MWe module with improvements in energy density compared to other technologies. Costs are kept low by means of simplicity, compactness, modularity, atmospheric pressure operation and elevated output temperature.
newcleo is also working to significantly invest in MOX fuel manufacturing in developed countries, extracting energy from the current nuclear industry by-products.
newcleo is ready to develop a new, sustainable, and completely safe way of generating nuclear energy that will help humanity reach zero emissions, and mitigate of global warming.
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