The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) have announced that their current technical collaboration agreement, signed in 2001, is to be broadened to encompass High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) technology.
UK interest in HTGR technology has increased since June 2020, when the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB), issued its report on nuclear energy policy, Achieving Net Zero: The role of Nuclear Energy in Decarbonisation. The report highlighted the HTGR as an important technology for future development and suggested international cooperation between the UK and JAEA to help accelerate the commercialisation of these reactor concepts in the UK.
In July 2020, the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) announced the selection of the three companies to advance from the initial “Feasibility Phase” to the second “Development Phase” in their support for Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) technology in the UK.
U-Battery, a developer of HTGR, was selected as one of the three companies along with Tokamak Energy and Westinghouse. JAEA has a Memorandum of Cooperation in place with Urenco, the parent company of U-Battery, for cooperation in the field of HTGR technologies.
NNL and JAEA plan to cooperate on areas such as advanced fuel development and safety research in the field of HTGR technologies, with the hope that this work will lead to progress in the commercialisation of HTGRs.
NNL’s work on HTGRs includes fuel development under the Advanced Fuel Cycle Programme, part of the wider BEIS-funded Energy Innovation Programme, among other support to BEIS.
JAEA is working to further develop Japanese HTGR technologies established through the construction and operation of the High Temperature Engineering Test Reactor and aspires to demonstrate the technology in cooperation with the UK, given the current interest in practical application of HTGR concepts. JAEA also aims to promote international standardisation and to strengthen international competitiveness.