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A group of Polish Ministry of Energy officials has visited USA. During that visit NCBJ has reached an agreement with X-energy, an US start-up company. That company will be another valuable partner in our plans to develop High Temperature Reactors (HTR) in Poland. Polish scientists seek to construct the first Polish pilot plant in NCBJ Świerk.

Professor Grzegorz Wrochna,  NCBJ Director Proxy (left) and Dr. Kam Ghaffarian, founder and owner of X–energy (right) are signing the letter of intent (photo Ministry of Energy)

On the occasion of Polish-US government talks in Washington, DC on cooperation in the field of nuclear technologies, Polish officials have met with some representatives of the US nuclear industry. NCBJ has signed an agreement with X-energy, a start-up company that has designed Xe-100, a small modular helium-cooled reactor fuelled with granulated nuclear fuel. The company has won a US government grant to put into operation a pilot plant constructed according to their blueprints before mid-twenties.

The agreement will help our efforts to develop nuclear cogeneration technology capable to produce both electricity and industrial-grade heat in nuclear reactors. Initiatives in that field, in which Polish research institutes have been participating for many years include Nuclear Cogeneration Industrial Initiative (the NC2I initiative driven by European Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform) and Gemini, the US-European initiative – reminded Professor Grzegorz Wrochna, Chairman of the HTR Task Force appointed by Polish Minister of Energy – X-energy will be another important partner from USA – next to NGNP Industrial Alliance – in our plans to develop HTR technologies.

Even if several High Temperature Reactors are already operational in various places around the world, the technology is still not commercially available. Experts estimate that global industrial demand for such solutions might be huge, several thousand units only in the USA. Developmental works are conducted in USA, Canada (to supply remote habitats and/or military bases in heat/electricity), UK (small and medium-size reactors, the so-called SMRs), Indonesia (power sources for individual islands), France and Japan. Development of two HTR units each of 250 MW power is coming to the end in China. In Poland HTRs will be used primarily as sources of industrial-grade heat for chemical industry plants and oil refineries. “Clean” utilization of Polish coal  is also considered.

Polish scientists propose to build a HTR technology demonstrator in NCBJ Świerk. Thermal power of that small reactor would be 10 MW, electric power – 4 MW. If final decision on financing the project is taken before the end of 2018, the development process should be concluded around 2025.

NCBJ zawiera porozumienie z X-energy
Prof. Grzegorz Wrochna, Pełnomocnik Dyrektora NCBJ i dr Kam Ghaffarian, właściel i założyciel X –Energy w trakcie podpisywania listu intencyjnego, fot. Ministerstwo Energii