National Nuclear Laboratory


Friday 16 October 2020

NNL and JAEA Broaden Existing Agreement to Include HTGR Technology

NNL and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) have announced that their existing technical collaboration agreement, signed in 2001, is to be broadened to encompass High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) technology. 

UK interest in HTGR technology has increased since June 2020, when the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board (NIRAB), issued its report on nuclear energy policy, “Achieving Net Zero: The role of Nuclear Energy in Decarbonisation”. The report highlighted HTGR as an important technology for future development and suggested international cooperation between the UK and JAEA to help accelerate the commercialization of these reactor concepts in the UK.

In July 2020, BEIS announced the selection of the three companies to advance from the initial “Feasibility Phase”to the second “Development Phase” in their support for Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) technology in the UK. U-Battery, a developer of HTGR, was selected as one of the three companies along with Tokamak Energy and Westinghouse. JAEA has a Memorandum of Cooperation(MOC) in place with URENCO, the parent company of U-Battery, for cooperation in the field of HTGR technologies.

NNL and JAEA plan to cooperate on areas such as advanced fuel development and safety research in the field of HTGR technologies, with the hope that this work will lead to progress in the commercialisation of HTGRs.

NNL work on HTGR includes fuel development under the Advanced Fuel Cycle Programme, part of the wider BEIS-funded Energy Innovation Programme, among other support to BEIS.

JAEA is working to further develop Japanese HTGR technologies established through the construction and operation of the High Temperature Engineering Test Reactor (HTTR) and aspires to demonstrate the technology in cooperation with the UK, given the current interest in practical application of HTGR concepts. JAEA also aims to promote international standardisation and to strengthen international competitiveness.

NNL CEO Paul Howarth said:

‘I am pleased to be deepening our relationship with JAEA to include this high-profile area and look forward to this collaboration bringing benefits for all parties.’

JAEA President Toshio Kodama said ‘

“We welcome the increased interest in HTGR technology in the UK and we are excited to work with NNL to jointly explore how these reactors might be developed and deployed to help the UK reach their commitment to net zero CO2 emissions by 2050.”