Our objective is to quickly deliver a versatile solution at a competitive cost. This is why we are designing two Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), enabling plant manufacturing and reducing costs: they are 30MWe and 200MWe, a relatively small power compared to conventional nuclear power plants (1000MWe average). The 30MWe can swiftly meet the commercial demand for small electric generating units, such as for islands, remote communities, or to power large vessels (shipping propulsion). The 200MWe can be an economically competitive solution for central station power plants.
Lead shows excellent properties for the nuclear application and is abundant, relatively low cost, shows high boiling temperature, does not interact with water, air or fuel – unlike sodium - and offers some radiation shielding. These characteristics allow achieving high efficiencies while working at atmospheric pressure, greatly simplify the reactor design and enhance passive safety in an accident scenario.
We are studying the technological solutions to fully exploit these while dealing with the well-known challenges associated to the use of lead.
WASTE BURNING, NO MINING
Fast reactors can extract up to 100x the energetic content from natural uranium compared to the conventional (thermal) reactors, resulting in a reduced need for mining and improved waste management.
These kind of reactors also have the capability to utilise as fuel the most long-lived and some of the most dangerous waste produced by today’s reactors, hence reducing what that would be otherwise stored in a geological repository for tens of thousands of years.
In order to be as time and cost effective as possible, we are powerfully combining our 13-strong patent portfolio, the vast experience of our senior scientific leadership and the fresh mindset and skillset of our young scientific team, while relying on existing and proven technologies and solutions wherever possible. We also rely on over 20 years’ experience on lead technology, brought by the ENEA experts. Our recently signed agreement with them includes a team of engineers, who will work permanently for about 10 years at ENEA Brasimone Centre.