Moltex Energy’s Stable Salt Reactor technology is under consideration in New Brunswick (Credit: Moltex)Canada’s New Brunswick Power (NB Power), Moltex Energy, and Advanced Reactor Concepts, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together to find synergies by establishing a small modular reactor vendor cluster in New Brunswick.

The MOU includes plans for collaboration in areas such as supply chain development activities, shared technology education and trades initiative, and common research and development activities.

Since 2018, NB Power has been working with ARC Nuclear Canada (the parent company of Advanced Reactor Concepts) and Moltex Energy to advance Generation IV grid sized SMR technology. The advanced SMRs are being developed for use in Canada and internationally.

The parties are working towards establishing New Brunswick as the hub for supply chain and technical support. Both companies are developing complementary technologies and each of their designs offers passive, inherent safety features with both reactors, in different ways, contributing to addressing used nuclear fuel.

New Brunswick is positioned to advance SMR technology because of its academic and scientific community, an existing nuclear site that can accommodate multiple SMRs and the nuclear expertise of the professionals at the Point Lepreau Nuclear Generating Station.

“NB Power welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with ARC Canada and Moltex together as we develop the small modular reactor technology and supply chain network in New Brunswick,” said Keith Cronkhite, NB Power President and CEO. “We believe nuclear energy in the form of small modular reactors is essential to achieving net zero by 2050.”

Rory O’Sullivan, CEO North America at Moltex Energy also welcomed the MOU “which formalises and strengthens the existing relationship between Moltex, NB Power and ARC Nuclear," he said. "We look forward to continuing to seek opportunities to collaborate in the interest of advancing the nuclear industry in New Brunswick. We are committed to developing solutions to fight climate change, spur economic development, and improve the lives of New Brunswickers.”

Don Wolf, Chairman of the Board of ARC Canada, said: “We are certain that nuclear energy has a critical role to play in the creation of a future energy system that  provides affordable, clean energy, 24/7 and integrates with renewable energy systems.  We look forward to demonstrating with NB Power the advantages of our new nuclear technologies and the potential economic benefits they can bring to New Brunswick.”

New Brunswick Natural Resources and Energy Development Minister Mike Holland said: “New Brunswick has an opportunity to become a world leader in small modular nuclear reactor research, development and manufacturing. “We believe that New Brunswick can be the place where technology is developed that will put our province on the map as a global emissions reduction leader.”

NB Power is the primary electric utility in New Brunswick supplying more than 400,000 customers with electricity. The utility  has 14 generating stations ranging from thermal generation, to hydro to nuclear, wind and other renewables.

ARC Canada’s mission is to commercialise the ARC-100 technology, an advanced SMR with a viable solution to used fuel. Moltex, a privately held company, developing a 300MW reactor that is fuelled by recycled nuclear waste, contributing to clean energy targets and reducing legacy waste. In tandem, it is developing energy storage technology so its reactor can be used as a 900 MW peaking plant, to complement intermittent renewable energy sources.

In July 2018, Moltex and ARC Canada were selected by NB Power and the Government of New Brunswick from among 90 applicants to develop their reactor technologies in New Brunswick, with the goal of commercial operation as early as 2030.

Earlier, Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) issued a call for proposals for the second round of its Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI) programme, which was launched in 2019 to accelerate the deployment of SMRs in Canada. The programme incorporates all advanced reactor designs including next-generation on-grid reactors and fusion technologies, CNL said.

Research proposals for the second round of the CNRI must align with topics that include advanced reactor systems, fusion research and nuclear clean energy technologies. The deadline for submissions is 4 January and projects will be selected next spring. Moltex was one of four companies selected in the first round of the programme. The others were Terrestrial Energy, Kairos Power and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation.

Photo: Moltex Energy’s Stable Salt Reactor technology is under consideration in New Brunswick (Photo courtesy Moltex)