University of Illinois and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation Propose First Gen IV Research Reactor at a U.S. University
University of Illinois Included in This Week’s “Universities Going Nuclear” Webinar
SEATTLE, WA / URBANA, IL - October 27 2020 – In a submission to the Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP, Risk Reduction track), Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) proposes to construct one 15 MWth Micro Modular Reactor (MMRTM) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The Ultra Safe Nuclear MMR is the closest-to-deployment Gen IV reactor in the world.
Deployment of the USNC MMR unit at the University of Illinois will continue a long tradition of nuclear leadership in Illinois, beginning with creation of the world’s very first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile 1 in 1942. The MMR installation at UIUC will achieve three important firsts:
1. Construction of the first U.S. university research and test reactor deployed in nearly 30 years
2. The first gas-cooled Gen IV university research and test reactor to be built in the U.S
3. First research and test reactor to supply emissions-free energy to a university energy system
The proposed MMR Energy System at the University of Illinois, primarily designed for research, testing, and training, will provide an opportunity for extensive research and training of next generation operators. The new installation will enable a variety of important experiments, including instrumentation and control (I&C), multi-physics validation, reactor prototype testing, micro-grid operations, cybersecurity, hydrogen production for transportation and energy storage, and fertilizer production.
In addition, the MMR will partially re-power the coal-fired Abbott power station, demonstrating carbon-free district heating and power capabilities on the UIUC campus. This district heating application will show how an MMR can serve as an emissions-free alternative to fossil fuels in combined heat and power applications on campuses and other critical infrastructure worldwide.
The proposed ARDP project will pursue the NRC design certification of the MMR micro reactor as a Class 104c research and test reactor at Illinois under 10 CFR 50.21. The licensing process will benefit from the advanced stage of licensing for the MMR in Canada, where a first demonstration unit is scheduled for completion and deployment at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories Chalk River site by 2026, as facilitated by the Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) signed by the nuclear regulatory and licensing authorities of U.S. and Canada (NRC and CNSC) in 2019.
“Participating in the Ultra Safe Nuclear proposal for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration opportunity continues a proud Illinois tradition of leadership in responsible, cutting-edge nuclear technologies,” said University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Chancellor Robert J. Jones. “An on-campus MMR will significantly advance our knowledge of new nuclear power technologies and pave the way for a new generation of safe, affordable, carbon-free nuclear power.”
Nuclear reactors for research and testing have safely operated on campuses across the U.S. for many years, beginning with the first human-made fission chain reaction at the University of Chicago, and including the TRIGA Mark II reactor that operated for 38 years in the heart of the UIUC campus. While student enthusiasm in carbon-free nuclear energy increases, a new university research reactor has not been built in nearly 30 years.
“Partnering with the University of Illinois is an essential component of our proposal to the ARDP, addressing a long-neglected need to train nuclear engineers in the upcoming advanced reactor technologies and applications,” said Francesco Venneri, Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation’s CEO. “By incorporating the University of Illinois into our ARDP submission, we are creating an unmatched, long-term partnership that will provide new generations of nuclear engineers with unique and invaluable skills.”
The University of Illinois’ leadership in nuclear research and training will be on display this week at the “Universities Going Nuclear” webinar. Hosted by ClearPath and the Clean Air Task Force (CATF), this event will explore reactor projects at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Abilene Christian University, and the University of Tennessee Knoxville. The webinar is scheduled for Wednesday October 28 at 4:30 PM Eastern Time; registration information can be found here: Universities Going Nuclear.
About the MMR™ Energy System
The MMR Energy System is a zero-carbon nuclear power plant, integrating one or several standardized micro reactors (MMRs) with a heat storage unit and the adjacent plant for power conversion and/or utilization. Electrical power or process heat (or a mix of both) is produced in the MMR ES, depending on the specific configuration. The MMR is a small high-temperature gas-cooled reactor generating 15 or 30 MW (thermal). The MMR uses the USNC proprietary, meltdown-proof FCM™ TRISO fuel (co-developed with INL and Oak Ridge National Laboratory). Nuclear heat is transferred from the micro reactor(s) to a molten salt energy storage unit that decouples the nuclear system from the power conversion system, greatly simplifying operations and allowing easy load matching and flexible use of the energy generated. No water is required for cooling. The MMR Energy System can be used as a standalone power plant or as part of microgrids that include intermittent renewables such as solar or wind, or to provide carbon-free, high-quality process heat for co-located industrial applications and high-efficiency hydrogen production.
About the Department of Nuclear, Radiological, and Plasma Engineering at UIUC
The University of Illinois’ award-winning Department of Nuclear, Radiological, and Plasma Engineering (NPRE) serves the needs for the development of expertise in the nuclear power area as well as a broad range of advanced science and engineering needs to develop atomic and nuclear processes for the benefit of today’s society. Grainger Engineering’s NPRE department is renowned for its expertise on issues surrounding the production, transport, and interactions of radiation with matter and the application of all nuclear processes. This includes leadership in traditional areas of nuclear fission for production of electric power and guiding the development of advanced nuclear systems for more efficient production of energy resources. For more information, visit: https://npre.illinois.edu/
About Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation
Ultra Safe Nuclear is the Seattle-based global leader in the deployment of micro reactors, and a strong vertical integrator of nuclear power technologies, entirely committed to bringing safe, commercially competitive, clean and reliable nuclear energy to markets throughout the world. The company adheres to strict inherent and intrinsic safety principles through technological innovation in fuels, materials and design practices. Utra Safe Nuclear is Reliable Energy. Anywhere.