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LYON, France / LONDON, UK, 15 May 2023 – Founded in September 2021, newcleo is developing a next-generation nuclear reactor that utilises recycled fuel. This innovative technology will meet the main challenges facing the industry: safety, costs, and waste. newcleo’s ambition is to contribute to accelerating the decarbonisation of the French economy and, alongside the French and European nuclear industry, to act in favour of the energy transition.
newcleo’s project is to develop, build, and operate fourth-generation Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in France, Europe, and beyond, as well as the manufacture and multi-recycling of MOX fuel (Mixed Oxides). The group has established itself in France with the aim of commissioning a 30 MWe and irradiation reactor in 2030, as well as a pilot unit for innovative fuels.
SMRs have several advantages: they are designed to be mass-produced in a factory and transported to installation sites, and their design is standardised in strict compliance with international requirements. newcleo’s Lead Fast Reactor (LFR), the first of its kind, will meet the commercial demand for small-scale decarbonised power generation.
newcleo’s approach will foster the development of new industrial ecosystems, opening the way to new fields of application: hydrogen production, cogeneration for European micro-grids, low-carbon desalination, decarbonisation of the economy, production of medical isotopes, and energy independence.
Fostering industrial and energy sovereignty, newcleo’s ambition is to implement a global solution contributing to the closure of the fuel cycle through the multi-recycling of MOX fuel, to optimise the use of resources to minimise mining, and to reduce the volume and activity of residual radioactive materials.
MOX is a mixture of oxides resulting from the processing of spent fuel from nuclear power plants, the use of which is already authorised in nuclear reactors in France and other countries. It is composed of depleted uranium (a by-product of the enrichment process of conventional reactors) and plutonium from conventional light water reactors. In the long run, the reactors designed and built by newcleo will be able to transmute minor actinides (long-lived radioactive elements) into much shorter-lived fission products.
The industrial-scale manufacture of MOX in France will guarantee the future supply of fuel required for the operation of newcleo’s French LFR 30 MWe prototype, as well as for future commercialised reactors.
Building on decades of research and development related to fast neutron reactors in France, newcleo chose to establish its French subsidiary in Lyon in June 2022. This site, which already employs 70 engineers and other skilled personnel, is rapidly expanding with dozens of new team members expected to join by the end of 2023. Key innovative technologies will be developed through research programmes with French and European organisations and manufacturers. Engineering and supply chain management will be organised at the heart of the French industrial fabric.
The commissioning of the 30 MWe LFR demonstrator and the associated MOX fuel pilot plant will directly create more than 500 skilled jobs in France by 2030. In total, over the period 2023-2030, newcleo plans to invest up to EUR 3 billion in France in the form of industrial investments, R&D and engineering expenses. This overall budget makes newcleo one of the largest investors at the Choose France 2023 summit.
Stefano Buono, newcleo Chairman and CEO, commented:
“France is on the cusp of a nuclear renaissance thanks to the efforts of the French authorities and in particular the President of the Republic, Mr. Emmanuel Macron. The French government has demonstrated a strong commitment to the nuclear industry.
France, like all European nations, needs to secure access to decarbonised, sustainable, and circular energy. Our solutions will contribute to energy sovereignty, the decarbonisation of French industry, and economic resilience. We are determined to pursue our efforts by relying on our know-how and on the entire French nuclear ecosystem, whose expertise is essential to relaunch innovation in the nuclear field.”