US-based General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) intends to collaborate with Framatome on the development of its helium-cooled, 50MWe fast modular reactor (FMR).

Framatome's US engineering team will be responsible for designing several critical structures, systems and components for the FMR.

“This collaboration builds on our long relationship with General Atomics with a shared interest in advancing nuclear energy technologies to create a cleaner world for generations to come,” said Bernard Fontana, CEO of Framatome. “With our experience and expertise in designing reactor systems and components for advanced and small modular reactors, our team is helping to make that vision a reality.”

The goal is for the FMR to be built in a factory and assembled on-site, which helps to reduce capital costs and enables incremental capacity additions. The gas-cooled reactor design uses a helium coolant, eliminating the need for the graphite that is common in other helium-cooled designs. The FMR's fuel is optimised to support reactor operations for up to nine years before refuelling and the system does not use complex steam generators and pressurizers, which helps to drive down costs.

The FMR is designed for enhanced safety and ease of operation with fast-response load following and overall high efficiency. The direct helium Brayton cycle enables fast grid response, with up to a 20% per minute power ramping rate for load following, and high overall efficiency of 45% during normal operation, General Atomics said.

“We are extremely excited to partner with Framatome to design a safe, cost-effective, and scalable nuclear reactor,” noted Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “Our two companies bring together more than 100 years of combined experience in maturing advanced nuclear technologies to help secure future US clean energy needs.”

A demonstration of the FMR, which will verify the design, manufacturing, construction and operation of the technology, is targeted for completion in the early 2030s. Commercial deployment is anticipated in the mid-2030s, the companies said.