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Rolls-Royce establishes Small Modular Reactors business

Rolls-Royce announced that following a successful equity raise, it has established the Rolls-Royce Small Modular Reactor (SMR) business to bring forward and deliver at scale the next generation of low-cost, low-carbon nuclear power technology. (Earlier post.)

Rolls-Royce Group, BNF Resources UK Limited and Exelon Generation Limited will invest £195 million (US$264 million) across a period of around three years. The funding will enable the business to secure grant funding of (US$284 million) million from UK Research and Innovation funding, first announced by the UK Prime Minister in ‘The Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution’.

The business, which will continue to seek further investment, will now proceed rapidly with a range of parallel delivery activities, including entry to the UK Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process and identifying sites for the factories which will manufacture the modules that enable on-site assembly of the power plants.

Discussions will also continue with the UK Government on identifying the delivery models that will enable long-term investment in this net-zero enabling technology. Rolls-Royce SMR is also engaging with export customers across many continents who need this technology to meet their own net zero commitments.

This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the UK to deploy more low carbon energy than ever before and ensure greater energy independence. Small Modular Reactors offer exciting opportunities to cut costs and build more quickly, ensuring we can bring clean electricity to people’s homes and cut our already-dwindling use of volatile fossil fuels even further. In working with Rolls-Royce, we are proud to back the largest engineering collaboration the UK has ever seen—uniting some of the most respected and innovating organisations on the planet. Not only can we maximize British content, create new intellectual property and reinvigorate supply chains, but also position our country as a global leader in innovative nuclear technologies we can potentially export elsewhere. By harnessing British engineering and ingenuity, we can double down on our plan to deploy more home-grown, affordable clean energy in this country.

—UK Business and Energy Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng

Rolls-Royce SMR is using proven nuclear technology, coupled with a unique factory-made module manufacturing and on-site assembly system, to harness decades of British engineering, design and manufacturing knowhow. It brings together the best of UK industry to ensure a decarbonization solution that will be available to the UK grid in the early 2030s. The potential for this to be a leading global export for the UK is “unprecedented”, according to Rolls-Royce.

Nine-tenths of an individual Rolls-Royce SMR power plant will be built or assembled in factory conditions and around 80% could be delivered by a UK supply chain—a unique offering in energy infrastructure in the UK. Much of the venture’s investment is expected to be focused in the North of the UK, where there is significant existing nuclear expertise.

A Rolls-Royce SMR power station will have the capacity to generate 470 MW of low-carbon energy, equivalent to more than 150 onshore wind turbines. It will provide consistent baseload generation for at least 60 years, helping to support the roll out of renewable generation, helping to overcome intermittency.

A single Rolls-Royce SMR power station will occupy the footprint of two football pitches and power approximately one million homes. It can support both on-grid electricity and a range of off-grid clean energy solutions, enabling the decarbonization of industrial processes and the production of clean fuels, such as sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and green hydrogen, to support the energy transition in the wider heat and transportation sectors.

Rolls-Royce has been a nuclear reactor plant designer since the start of the UK nuclear submarine program in the 1950s.

When fully operational the Rolls-Royce SMR business is forecast to create 40,000 regional UK jobs by 2050 and generate £52 billion (US$70 billion) in economic benefit.



I think that this is a good thing but I would like some more information on what type of nuclear cycle they are proposing. I could not find anything in this release or on their web site other than they have made nuclear reactors for submarines. Anyway, I think that nuclear power is needed to provide base load power without excess reliance on energy storage.



Weirdly, my post seems to have disappeared.
Anyway, here is what Rolls Royce are planning, a three loop closed cycle PWR, actually of medium, not small size:


HI Sd,
here's a link I found:

It is 470 MWe so it seems to match.

- JM


Can't say I am madly keen on the design.

I fancy smaller reactors with the heat used for district heating, as 4th gen can be close in to residential areas.

It doesn't sound like any advance in fuel burn either.


Davemart and mahonj

Thanks for the links. Pressurized Light Water Reactor which has modular components but has much more power per unit than the NuScale SMR which is more of a unit construction. Anyway, it seems that they are going forward with the design.


I'd prefer to see all these efforts, time and financial assets invested in viable fusion projects instead of wasting them in a "dead end street". Two promising designs are the stellerator and HB11 of which the latter shows far more potential.



For the past 5 or 6 decades, we have been 20 years away from fusion power. Maybe we can spend the next 3 or so decades only 15 years away and then move on to a few decades only 10 years away:) Actually, I think that research should continue on both projects. The HB11 (hydrogen boron-11) concept is interesting and potentially promising but they admit that there is considerable research and engineering work to be done. I did subscribe to their news feed. However, they will not be able to produce useful power before NuScale, Rolls Royce, or possibly Terra Power modular power plants come on line.

It is also interesting to me that they are talking about PetaWatt lasers. Fresh out of undergraduate school about 55 years ago with a degree in physics, I was given the task of measuring the power of a laser diode which was supposed to produce 100 watts for 100 nanoseconds. I was pretty much on my own to figure out how to this. We had samples from 2 companies. I measured less than 10 watts from the first sample and their engineers showed up to show me what I did wrong but left without determining that I had done something wrong. Fortunately, I measured almost 90 watts with the second sample which gave me more confidence in what I was doing. Now we have continuous diode lasers with kiloWatts that cut 25mm or more thick steel. But the concept of PetaWatts are still impressive.

Pressurized Light Water Reactor which has modular components but has much more power per unit than the NuScale SMR which is more of a unit construction.
The amount of heat a nuclear reactor can produce is astounding.  For CHP applications, the NuScale is sized far more appropriately than most other concepts.  The last thing you want is units so big that you can't economically use them to light and heat anything smaller than a mega-city.  NuScale and various walkaway-safe PBMRs are in the 240-300 MW(t) range, which makes them feasible for such applications.
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Did you know you can get A Romanian Dacia (MIC) for EUR 7,700 ( What does that have to do with SMR?
This week at COP26 NuScale and Nuclearelectrica (Romania) reached an agreement to Initiate deployment of the First SMR in Europe.
The NuScale SMR could be used for CHP, think about low temp industrial uses like desalination, biomass to fuel processing, and pulp and paper.
There are other SMR like the TechnicAtome project Nuward PWR and the Framatome HTGR, and others. Let’s hope they are successful to help meet 2030 climate goals.


So is the HB11 process fusion or fission. You start with a hydrogen atom or proton and bombard boron-11. Out of this, you get something that breaks (fissions?) into 3 helium nuclei. Just doing a normal proton, neutron balance, it seems that you would just get carbon-12 which the normal stable carbon atom but instead you get 3 helium nuclei and a lot of energy.



I totally agree about smaller reactors such as the Nuscale.

I have not looked in detail at the fuel cycles etc of the various designs, as I have been hoping for just about anything, and I have been waiting to see what comes along in practicality.

There does not appear to be much 4th gen about this though.

The Chinese PBR is interesting.

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Any thoughts on the General Atomics Energy Multiplier Module (EMM) and the Framatome Fast Modular Reactor (they are partners on the FMR).
These are Gas Cooled HTR that use spent fuel.


link to the basics of the Framatome Fast Modular Reactor here:

It sounds more hopeful, but also further away.


Here is a look at SMRs, with especial reference to UK deployment, which is one of the few Western countries considering a roll out:


I had a dig around about Nuscale, since it is the only new design certified by the US authorities, and there is an agreement to build one in Romania, as well as interest in the UK, the Ukraine etc as well as the US

Here is a pdf on their potential to repurpose coal plants:

I don't much fancy their projected costs of $64MW, but even so it may perhaps supplement renewables and is good for desalination, hydrogen production etc.
Incidentally the high temperature heat from the reactor only needs a small boost from electricity to produce the hydrogen, and consequently they claim that a plant could power about as many FCEVs as BEVs, contrary to the meme that has been endlessly trotted out for years:

' One NuScale SMR can produce enough electricity to power approximately 40,000 electric cars or about the same amount of hydrogen fuel cell cars with average annual car usage in the U.S.'


The idea of using a NuScale to power a paper mill sent me down a rabbit-hole.

First thing, I dug up a paper on paper-mill energy consumption.  On page 2 it gives the range of modern mill sizes as 1200 to 1800 air-dry tons of pulp per day, and overall steam consumption as 6.6 tons per daily ton of pulp.  1800 tpd comes to 75 t/h, and at 6.6 tons steam per ton pulp I get 495 t/h of steam or 990,000 lb/hr.  This is divided roughly equally between high-pressure steam at 175 psig and low-pressure steam at 60 psig (presumably saturated steam).  The electric power requirements are 723.9 kWh/ADt, or an average of 54.3 MW for an 1800 t/d mill.

One of the earlier revisions of the NuScale was rated at 565,273 lb/hr steam with the steam at 450 psia at the turbine throttle (temperature unspecified, though it is superheated so in excess of 450°F).  This means that a paper mill is a fairly good match for the output of 1-2 NuScales.  It might even be possible to use low-temperature (hot oil) heat storage to drive the cooking, bleaching, pulp drying and evaporation stages over peak electrical demand hours and shut down a lot of the electrical loads too.  That would let the plant follow the grid load.

There may also be ways to convert the lignin in the "black liquor" to fuels, at least partially.  After mostly drying it, it could be injected into a pot of hot molten NaOH at 550°C to gasify part of it.  The carbon char could then be burned off as in the current process, regenerating the Na2S and Na2CO3 for recycling to "white liquor".  The 550°C temperature can be obtained by throttling steam from the NSS and compressing it to a higher temperature/pressure to heat the salt vat.  By reserving the char-laden salt for burning in the daylight and evening hours and using the high-pressure steam for generation, it might be possible to further make the net plant output follow grid load.


General Atomics Energy Multiplier

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Thanks @EP,
Let’s hope NuScale and SMR in general become a reality soon (NuScale is furthest along with a possible 2027 startup). We need them. The current Nuclear power plants are all over 50 years old (sad to think that was when I was at Southern Company and we were building Plant Vogtle Units 1 and 2.).

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