US-based X-energy Reactor Company has selected UK-based Howden, a subsidiary of Chart Industries, as its preferred strategic supplier of the helium circulator system for its Xe-100 high temperature gas cooled advanced modular reactor intended for the UK market.

Chart’s Howden business, based in Glasgow, Scotland, has more than 50 years of experience in the nuclear sector and providing a range of products for various reactor designs. It supplies custom-designed fans and compressors throughout the nuclear industry. Howden was acquired by Chart Industries in March and complements Chart’s expertise in helium liquefaction and cryogenic technology. In the UK, the advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) nuclear fleet was installed with Howden engineered and manufactured CO2 circulators with Howden providing continued service and support.

X-energy and its strategic partner Cavendish Nuclear plan to deploy up to 40 Xe-100 reactors in the UK from 2030 onwards. The helium circulators, for use in the Xe-100 reactor, draw on the core elements of this technology and are extensively engineered, built, and tested in the UK to provide X-energy with the functionality and reliability to provide clean power and heat to the UK grid and industry. This project supports the UK government’s strategy in creating new jobs and achieving its target of 24GW of nuclear energy by 2050.

“We’re very pleased to have reached this agreement with Howden,” stated Carol Tansley, X-energy’s VP of UK New Build Projects. “Their breadth of experience, expertise and capability is exactly what we are looking for and we’re delighted to find this right here in the UK”.

Fred Hearle, Chart’s President for Europe noted: “Nuclear energy will continue to be an essential part of ongoing energy needs and will be a vital enabler in the future decarbonisation of power generation and industrial processes. SMR’s and, in particular, high temperature gas reactor SMR’s offer a real solution to both these needs. Howden’s leading expertise in gas circulation within the reactor can provide circulators with the required safety, quality and performance for this critical application.” He added: “In partnering with X-energy we see the potential to play an important role in supporting the UK’s uptake of SMR solutions and securing technology and manufacturing jobs for the years ahead.”

The Xe-100 is a high-temperature gas reactor with a thermal output of 200 MWt or an electrical output of 80 MWe. It is one of two designs selected by the US Department of Energy in 2020 to receive $80m each of initial cost-shared funding to build an advanced reactor demonstration plant that can be operational within seven years. The Xe-100 evolved from both the UK’s Dragon reactor at Winfrith in Dorset and the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project in South Africa. It will use TRIstructural ISOtropic (TRISO) fuel comprising three layers of carbon and ceramic materials that surround kernels or balls of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel.