Hyundai Engineering announced on Jan. 11 that it has secured exclusive engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) rights for micro modular reactor (MMR) projects of Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. (USNC), a Canadian company specializing in small modular nuclear power plants. The amount of equity investment is US$30 million (37.5 billion won).
USNC is a leader in fourth-generation MMR technology. Hyundai Engineering has been cooperating with USNC since 2012 when they started to jointly develop a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR). The two companies have developed conceptual and basic designs for a HTGR with the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute. In February 2019, they received pre-project approval for their HTGR from Canada’s nuclear regulators. They began the construction of an MMR demonstration plant on a site of the Chalk River Laboratories in northeastern Toronto, Canada, and aims to start the plant’s commercial operation in 2025.
The HTGR developed by USNC boasts the highest level of safety among small modular nuclear power plants. It uses a patented micro-encapsulated ceramic triple-coated nuclear fuel.
With USNC's HTGR, there is no possibility of radioactive materials leakage even at 1,800 degrees Celsius. Safety is enhanced as nuclear fuel melting is fundamentally excluded, even in the event of a serious accident such as the Fukushima nuclear power plant debacle. MMRs secured safety by installing ceramic-coated nuclear fuel and can produce higher temperature (750 degrees or higher) steam than conventional reactors. They can supply high-temperature process heat and mass-produce hydrogen using electrolysis by utilizing the steam.
“Through this investment, we have secured an exclusive right to execute USNC's MMR projects,” a Hyundai Engineering official said. “We will preoccupy the global small modular nuclear power plant markets in Europe and the Middle East.”