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Jun 2018
DBD supports £200M Government-backed nuclear deal which could lower UK energy bills
DBD are assisting in the commercialisation of AMRs in the UK, which could drive down the cost of nuclear energy as well as deliver new, low-carbon energy options
As part of an ambitious £200M Nuclear Sector deal announced today, the UK Government has set in motion a series of forward-thinking investment opportunities to develop the Nuclear R&D Landscape, with the aim to drive down the costs of nuclear energy leading to cheaper bills for UK customers. The Nuclear Sector deal also includes a strong commitment to increasing the diversity of the workforce so that more women can take advantage of new dedicated nuclear colleges and national schemes. It will support up to 100,000 jobs overall in nuclear by 2021, and a significantly more diverse workforce with a target of 40% women in nuclear by 2030.

Included in this deal is a £44 million R&D investment boost to kick-start the development of Advanced Modular Reactors (AMR’s) in the UK. This technology positions UK companies at the leading-edge of the worldwide nuclear energy development programme.

DBD are fully supportive of the strategic aims of this deal, and are delighted to be a central part of its focus on AMR's. We have been successful in gaining grant funding to explore the feasibility of establishing an R&D programme based on a world-leading AMR technology. We are working in partnership with an international reactor vendor to realise the aims of the study and provide the UK government with clear information which can inform future policy decisions. Our vendor's AMR promises to deliver reliable, affordable, clean energy and enhanced functionality to the UK.

DBD is working in China in partnership with the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology (INET), Tsinghua University and MWA-T. The partnership provides for an innovative approach to the commercialisation of promising advanced technologies, where DBD is initially conducting evidence-based due diligence and feasibility studies. These studies are focussed on the application of innovation into the UK nuclear landscape, to improve safety and establish long-term value to the taxpayer and consumer e.g. a nuclear waste treatment technology that will reduce the lifetime cost to the UK taxpayer of some of the most complex waste management challenges is currently underway.

DBD has also partnered with INET to study the application of an Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR) design called a High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor - Pebble-Bed Module This low-carbon technology strongly aligns with the technical vision of the UK Government. DBD are confident that it can - through due diligence and commercialisation - deliver reliable, affordable, clean energy and enhanced functionality to the UK.

The HTR-PM reactor is fuelled by circulating fuel pebbles, with each pebble of UO2 fuel being constructed with multiple mixed-material layers designed to contain the radioactive by-products. The burnup of the circulating fuel is controlled by adding and subtracting fresh or spent pebbles on a continuous basis alongside a graphite-moderated core.

These reactors produce high-temperature heat that can then be used for a range of valuable purposes: This includes high efficiency electricity generation and co-generation of process heat for industrial applications such as hydrogen production, district heating, oil & gas operations and so on. On offer is the potential to combine all these diverse applications into a single power plant. In addition, the inherent safety features (such as eliminating a core meltdown scenario by design) will allow the siting of these units closer to the energy user. The technology comes with a long and successful pedigree - starting in the 1960s - and the HTR-PM is at the forefront of the modern AMR programme, with the well advanced construction of a full scale 2 x 250 MW HTR-PM reactor unit in Shandong province.

Thomas Keegan, DBD’s Chief Executive Officer said “DBD are excited to be partnering with international organisations that are at the leading edge of AMR reactor technology. I am so proud of my Different By Design team who are truly achieving our mission by solving the world’s most complex problems; this time sustainable, cost effective and low carbon energy.”

DBD intend to use this project to build on the existing China/UK ties to develop a role for the UK in the global HTR-PM programme. The work will include both academic and industrial opportunities set within the INET, DBD partnerships wider commercialisation roadmap and the path being set out in the UK nuclear R&D strategy. "

For more information about this exciting new initiative, visit the government website here.
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