UK nuclear technology company Newcleo has signed a collaboration agreement with the French Alternative Energies & Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) to work on the development of Newcleo’s LFR.

The two companies will also work together on fuel qualification, calculation codes, nuclear materials, and instrumentation and measurement. Under the France 2030 investment plan, Newcleo aims to have a 30 megawatt electric LFR 30 reactor in service by 2030, along with a mixed oxides fuel manufacturing unit. According to a Newcleo press statement, the two projects will represent an investment of €3bn ($3.2bn).

Ludovic Vandendriesche, managing director of Newcleo’s French subsidiary, Newcleo SA, said: “This collaboration constitutes a real catalyst for the advancement of our fourth-generation reactor project. We are delighted to collaborate with the CEA, a pioneering research institute in technological innovation, and we hope that this partnership will mark the start of a fruitful and lasting collaboration.”

LFRs differ from traditional pressurised water reactors as they use lead as a coolant, which has a boiling point exceeding 1,700°C, allowing for high temperature operation at atmospheric pressure without coolant boiling concerns. This increases thermodynamic efficiency, reduces capital costs and is considered safer than the operation of pressurised systems.

Last week, the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) applied for a justification decision for Newcleo’s LFR-AS-200 reactor. This was the first time in almost a decade that a new nuclear design has been submitted for consideration.

A justification decision does not act as a permit or licence that allows a project to go ahead but is the first of the required steps for the operation of a new nuclear technology in the UK. The decision process evaluates the potential benefits and detriments of a proposed new nuclear practice as a precursor to future regulatory processes.

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