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Ansaldo Nucleare partnered with four additional companies to speed up the industrial deployment of SMRs.
Ansaldo Nucleare, ENEA, RATEN, SCK CEN, and the Westinghouse Electric Company established a joint venture to accelerate the industrial deployment of lead-cooled small modular reactors (SMR). The commitment comes in the form of a signed MoU, and the companies will begin the collaboration with a demonstration of lead fast reactor technology to build on the nuclear research conducted by SCK CEN.
Lead-based SMRs maintain a high safety standard due to the concept of passive safety and offer an efficient nuclear fuel utilization and reduction of long-term radioactive waste in a closed fuel cycle approach. The partners will implement a cost-efficient energy solution and, through the development of SMR technology, can facilitate the commercial-scale deployment of sustainable nuclear energy.
"A year and a half ago, we took the strategic decision to accelerate our energy transition. We reduced our dependence on fossil fuels, limiting our gas emissions and our dependence on countries like Russia, by investing in offshore energy, hydrogen infrastructure, but also the nuclear power of the future,” said Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister of Belgium. “We have decided to do this by drawing on the expertise developed in Belgium, and by allocating €100 million to the research and development of small modular reactors. From the beginning, we are convinced that this would be set up in cooperation with international partners. The agreement SCK CEN has just signed today with Ansaldo Nucleare, ENEA, RATEN and Westinghouse is the first visible milestone in this strategy.”
The collaboration will begin testing a small-size reactor to demonstrate the technological and engineering facets of the commercial SMR-LFR in Mol, Belgium. Simultaneously, the partners will advance towards the next development phase—the construction of ALFRED in Pitesti, Romania, to focus on the technical and economic practicality of commercial SMRs. Westinghouse’s lead-cooled fast reactor design will serve as the starting point for the project, eventually targeting the global commercialization of the design.
SMRs will be developed as a low-carbon sustainable energy source through the electricity, heat, and hydrogen production provided by the partnering companies. SCK CEN will merge its knowledge from lead-bismuth research with RATEN and ENEA’s experience in lead technology development, allowing two precursor models to be built prior to the demonstration of the SMR-LFR.
The Westinghouse Electric Company and Ansaldo Nucleare will combine their knowledge in design, licensing, construction, and commercialization of nuclear power to advance the deployment of lead-cooled SMRs on an international scale.