Newcleo raises USD316 million, talks with Orano

20 June 2022

The UK-headquartered developer of small modular lead-cooled fast reactors, Newcleo, says it has successfully raised EUR300 million (USD316 million) and also announced it has contracted France’s Orano for feasibility studies on the establishment of a mixed plutonium-uranium oxides (MOX) production plant.

CEO Stefano Buono says the new tech can address costs, safety and waste in a sustainable way (Image: Newcleo)

The company, whose proposed Generation IV reactors would use MOX fuel, launched the equity issue in March. It says that two-thirds of its initial investors from the EUR100 million funding round last year chose to invest in it.

In a statement, the company said the funds would be "instrumental to accelerate" growth and its planned expansion into manufacturing nuclear fuel for its reactors. It said its recently-opened French subsidiary’s "immediate focus is to work towards the establishment" of a MOX production plant. As well as contracting Orano for the feasibility study, "conversations with other major French nuclear fuel players are also well under way".

MOX fuel, which consists of depleted uranium and plutonium, has already been approved for use in fast nuclear reactors in France. A manufacturing plant would be used for Newcleo’s 30 MW first-of-a-kind prototypes in France and the UK and a subsequent fleet. The company says its reactors would reuse "spent fuel, closing the fuel cycle, reducing the volume of waste and promoting the acceptability of nuclear power with our sustainable approach" at a time when France is preparing for a fresh expansion of nuclear power.

The company now has 100 employees with a target headcount of 500 by the end of 2023 across its UK, France and Italy operations.

Newcleo chairman and CEO Stefano Buono, said: "The recent geopolitical developments have undeniably reinforced the importance of nuclear in ensuring global energy security and the necessary step change in decarbonisation efforts. The momentum is strong and the capital market’s appetite is evident. This is the right moment to change the paradigm of nuclear energy towards a new technology, that can efficiently address the major concerns of our industry - costs, safety and waste - in a sustainable way.

"We look forward to pressing ahead with our clear priorities in the second half of 2022 and securing the right sites in France and the UK for both our prototype reactors and our MOX manufacturing facilities."

Newcleo signed a framework agreement with ENEA - the Italian national agency for new technologies, energy and sustainable economic development - earlier this year and will build an electrical prototype of the lead-cooled fast reactor (LFR) system, which will not use radioactive materials or nuclear fuel, to allow the study of thermo-dynamic, mechanical and functional performances. The joint activities also concern the design of an Accelerator Driven System, which will make it possible to reduce the volume of existing nuclear waste.

Newcleo said it intends to construct the first nuclear prototype in a "nuclear-friendly" country within seven years (no civil nuclear activity is permitted in Italy) and subsequently market them internationally to gradually replace the current Generation II and III reactors.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News