The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) has applied for a justification decision for British nuclear company Newcleo’s Lead Fast Reactor. The lead-cooled fast reactor, known as the LFR-AS-200, is the first new nuclear design to be submitted for consideration in almost a decade.

The NIA cited the benefits of the clean, firm and flexible power that the technology could produce, which outweigh the risks. In a press statement, the association added that the risks were controlled by robust safety measures such as passive safety systems that are built into the design and incorporated into the operating arrangements, complying with the UK’s regulatory requirements.

The LFR-AS-200 will 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 achieves inherent safety compared with pressurised systems.

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.

The NIA’s statement said that this is the UK’s first-ever application for justification of an advanced nuclear technology, and that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has accepted it for consideration.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the NIA, said: “This is an opportunity for the UK Government to demonstrate that it backs advanced nuclear technologies to support a robust clean power mix and to reinvigorate the UK’s proud tradition of nuclear innovation. We look forward to engaging with the government and the public throughout this process and to further applications for new nuclear designs in the future.”

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