UK-based start-up nuclear technology company newcleo has launched an equity raise of up to €1bn ($1.07bn) to fund the further development of its lead-cooled fast nuclear reactor (LFR) designs and planned plants to manufacture fuel from nuclear waste.

Newcleo, launched in 2021, says it has already completed two successful capital raises, raising a total of €400m “with strong interest from international investors”. The company’s mission “is to generate safe, clean, economic and practically inexhaustible energy for the world, through a radically innovative combination of existing, accessible technologies”. It claims to “capitalise on 30 years of R&D activity in metal-cooled fast reactors and liquid-lead cooling systems. Newcleo says its reactor design “has been optimised over the last 20 years leading to the concept of an ultra-compact and transportable 200 MWe module with improvements in energy density compared to other technologies”.

The new funding “will aid newcleo’s strategic expansion into manufacturing nuclear fuel for its next-generation reactors made from existing waste produced by traditional reactors. This will include the establishment of a first mixed plutonium-uranium oxides (mox) production plant in France, with another plant to follow later in the UK.

The company says the industrial-scale manufacturing of mox “will secure the future fuel supply needed for the operation of newcleo’s 30 MWe first-of-a-kind reactor, and for the subsequent commercial fleet that will be deployed”. Newcleo will also use the upcoming capital raise to accelerate its growth plans through prototype development, manufacturing plant set up, and site identification and acquisition costs in both France and the UK.

The company adds that it has commercial collaborations and partnerships with more than 30 key players in the nuclear industry in France, Italy and in the UK. Public funding applications have been submitted in France, as well as the initial steps towards regulatory approvals, including the UK Generic Design Assessment (GDA) entry application. In Italy, the company has continued a strategic partnership with ENEA (established in March 2022), which “has committed to working with Newcleo on its projects and invest in its first nuclear plant”.

The company “will also continue to invest in its growing talent pool across its core markets, with its current workforce of around 200 employees expected to grow to 500 employees by the end of 2023”.

Earlier this month, newcleo said the first step of its delivery roadmap is “to design and construct a first-of-a-kind mini 30 MWe lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) to be deployed in France by 2030”. Newcleo added that this will be rapidly followed by a 200 MWe commercial unit in the UK.

Currently the only operating liquid metal-cooled fast reactors are in Russia, using sodium as the coolant. However, Russia is also constructing the world’s first lead-cooled small modular reactor (Brest-OD-300) in Seversk as part of a facility to demonstrate an on-site closed fuel cycle, including novel fuel fabrication.