National Nuclear Laboratory


Wednesday 19 July 2023

Next generation of high temperature gas-cooled reactors reaches design phase

National Nuclear Laboratory, the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission, in partnership with its Japanese counterpart, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, has secured government funding from the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, towards the design phase of the UK’s first modular high temperature gas reactor – the UKJ-HTR.

This next-generation reactor delivers much higher outlet temperatures than existing technology, allowing the heat to be used directly to decarbonise industrial processes. In particular, UKJ-HTR will enable the large-scale production of hydrogen via electrochemical or thermochemical processes, providing a sustainable source of this vital energy vector.

Dr Gareth Headdock, Vice President of Government and New Build, NNL said: “We are delighted to see high temperature gas reactors chosen as a key green technology for the UK’s future energy security. These reactors provide a unique combination of high temperature, inherent safety, and a high technology readiness level – in time for the UK to fulfil our net zero commitments.

“This programme is based on close collaboration with our equivalent organisation in Japan, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, who have decades of experience designing and operating this type of reactor.”

Demonstration of this technology will de-risk future investment and allow the coupling of nuclear assets to downstream processes through the provision of high-grade heat – allowing deep decarbonisation of industrial processes. This is also a critical first step in a future fleet deployment scenario, where advanced nuclear is a key part of the solution to combat climate change.