Urenco says it is withdrawing its support for the U-Battery advanced modular reactor (AMR) project “having exhausted its attempts to secure the commitment of new commercial investors”. The U-Battery project was initiated by Urenco in 2008 based on a concept design developed by the Universities of Manchester and Dalton Institute in the UK and Technology University of Delft in the Netherlands. The design is for a 4 MWe high-temperature gas-cooled micro-reactor using high-integrity TRISO fuel. It is intended to produce local power and heat to replace diesel power for a variety of applications, including remote communities and other off-grid locations such as mining operations.

In 2022, U-Battery Developments Ltd in Slough was one of six next generation of reactor projects awarded funding by the UK government. It was selected to receive £499,845 ($610,000) for a study to determine the optimum size, type, cost, and delivery method for a U­Battery AMR suitable for demonstration in the UK.

U-Battery also received support from BWXT Technologies Inc, Cavendish Nuclear, Costain, Kinectrics, Jacobs, the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory, Nuclear AMRC, Rolls-Royce and the University of Manchester.

In January this year, U-Battery was granted its first legal patent for the design of its high temperature gas-cooled reactor fuel element and core from the UK Intellectual Property Office. The fuel element and reactor core design are therefore protected in law for five years and up to a maximum of 20 years. U-Battery said it also seeling similar patents in the USA and Canada.

Urenco said, as an organisation which is committed to supporting the generation of low carbon electricity globally and helping the world to decarbonise, it “is a strong advocate for new nuclear and wishes to see advanced reactors deployed globally”. It added: “It is with regret, therefore, that we can no longer continue our support of the U-Battery Advanced Modular Reactor project, having exhausted our attempts to secure the commitment of new commercial investors.”

It continued: “The U-Battery team has completed its current programme of work under the AMR RD&D programme, and after dialogue and consultation with the Department for Energy Security & Net Zero, and with other stakeholders, Urenco’s intention is to preserve the public investment in U-Battery by transferring its intellectual property to the National Nuclear Laboratory, subject to necessary due diligence and governance approvals.”

Chris Chater, U-Battery Chief Technology Officer, said: “We are proud of the progress the U-Battery team have made to date; from a conceptual design developed by the Universities of Manchester (UK) and Delft (the Netherlands) to successfully winning UK Government backing as part of AMR competitions from 2018 onwards. While Urenco has refocused its priorities, we continue to believe in the U-Battery design which could provide an innovative decarbonisation solution for hard to abate sectors.”