France-based NAAREA (Nuclear Abundant Affordable Resourceful Energy for All) and Netherlands-based Thorizon have signed a strategic partnership agreement to advance the development of molten salt reactors in Europe. The partnership aims to create the best conditions to:

  • Pool resources for safety and security demonstrations and chemical, industrial, and strategic knowledge in molten salt technology;
  • Develop shared laboratories and test facilities.
  • Secure access to reprocessed fuel materials needed for molten salt fuel synthesis.
  • Provide the market with a range of complementary energy solutions with a common technology basis.
  • Increase political and public support for molten salt reactor technology.

The companies both use modularity in their designs, NAAREA through modular manufacturing, Thorizon through its modular core made of molten salt cartridges produced offsite.

NAAREA, founded in 2020 by Jean-Luc Alexandre and Ivan Gavriloff, is developing the XAMR molten salt fast neutron micro-generator (40MWe or 80MWt). NAAREA benefits from the support of the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) and French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), as well as industry players such as Assystem, Dassault Systèmes, Orano and Framatome.

Dutch company Thorizon is developing a 250 MWt/100 MWe ‘thorium molten salt reactor’ that will use long-lived waste in combination with thorium as fuel. Thorizon is a spin-off from the Nuclear Research and consultancy Group (NRG), which operates the High Flux Reactor in Petten.

The collaboration will enable NAAREA and Thorizon, and subsequently other players in Europe, to pool their efforts to accelerate innovation in the field of Molten Salt Reactor and gain efficiency.

According to the company press release, this strategic molten salt cooperation complements recent strategic and industrial partnership launched by NAAREA and newcleo to optimise the re-use of used fuel from conventional reactors using fast neutron technologies to close of the fuel cycle. It also complements Thorizon’s partnership with Orano to develop a production process for the re-use of used fuel.

“This strategic industrial partnership will allow to speed up the development of molten salt and will create the conditions to build a European champion alliance in fast neutrons molten salt technology for the benefit of decarbonising urgently our planet,” said Jean Luc Alexandre, NAAREA founder & CEO. “I’m grateful to say that this collaboration will offer new perspectives on recycling spent fuels from conventional reactors. Thorizon has extensive expertise and has been working on their technology for many years, which is a strong asset for our partnership.”

CEO Thorizon Kiki Lauwers said: “Building an innovative reactor is not something you can do on your own, this requires strong partnerships and strong teamwork. We opened an office in Lyon to connect to the rich nuclear experience and expertise in France. Now with this partnership with Naarea, we can leverage the French and Dutch ecosystems for the development and market of molten salt technology in Europe.” He added: “I see a mutual commitment to bring the molten salt reactor to the market urgently and a strong willingness and open mindset to share knowhow to advance this course.”

According to NAAREA’s website the company has an ambitious development plan organised into three phases, conducted in parallel. These include: the finalisation of a digital twin in 2023; submitting the safety options dossier (DOS) for commissioning of a prototype by 2028; and launching mass production by 2030. As yet, no completed digital twin has been announced,

However, France’s Assystem says it is “developing a digital twin of a nuclear microreactor, devised by start-up NAAREA, to model and simulate its behaviour”. This digital twin “will allow us to quickly determine the best design, provide critical elements to validate the conception, then rapidly launch the physical prototype's construction”. Assystem adds that it “will support NAAREA in the development of this new technology in compliance with the nuclear regulatory framework”.

Image: The signing of the agreement (courtesy of Thorizon)