CEA Creates Two Nuclear Start-Ups For SMR Development

CEA, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (ENS Corporate Member) announced the creation of two nuclear start-ups, Hexana and Stellaria, which will focus on the development of different technologies for Small Modular Reactors (SMRs).

Hexana aims to develop an SMR featuring a sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor, integrated with a high-temperature storage device.

A plant would include two of these reactors (400 MWt each) supplying a heat storage device. An adjoining conversion system will allow it to produce electricity on demand and in a flexible manner to compete with gas-fired power plants, but also to supply heat directly to nearby energy-intensive industries.

CEA says that this kind of reactor is of “major interest in the management of nuclear materials: they operate without natural or enriched uranium but with depleted uranium combined with plutonium from reprocessed fuel from the French nuclear fleet (MOX)”.

The second start-up, Stellaria, aims to develop an energy system based on a chloride molten salt reactor (MSR).

The reactor proposed will be very compact – measuring 4 cubic metres – and, like Hexana, will be able to use a diversified range of nuclear fuels (uranium, plutonium, MOX, minor actinides, even thorium), “thus fitting perfectly into the French strategy of closing the cycle”, CEA says. The reactor will produce 250 MWt.

Read more on World Nuclear News (in English) or on CEA Press Release (in French).