The government has awarded grants of up to £300,000 to eight companies to undertake feasibility studies as part of a £44 million research and development programme for advanced modular reactors.

A total of £4 million was available to conduct the studies, which will form first phase of the two-stage programme. The successful applicants will bid for a share of up to £40 million for development activities in the second phase.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) said advanced modular reactors (AMRs) typically differ from conventional reactors in their use of substances such as molten lead or salt for cooling instead of pressurised or boiling water.

Developers are hoping to minimise costs by mass-producing the reactors in offsite factories, often in modular form. These modules could then be combined together to form larger plants.

Potential benefits include increased flexibility when compared to conventional reactors and additional functionality, such as the ability to produce hydrogen or provide heat to homes and businesses.

The companies which have secured funding are:

  • Advanced Reactor Concepts
  • DBD Limited
  • Blykalla Reaktorer Stockholm
  • Moltex Energy
  • Tokamak Energy
  • U-Battery Developments
  • Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation
  • Westinghouse Electric Company UK

The AMR programme was announced by energy minister Richard Harrington in December after the government quietly dropped an earlier competition to find the “best value” small modular reactor (SMR) design for the UK.

It has a more limited scope than the SMR competition, focusing on highly innovative technologies at an earlier stage of development.

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