Feb 9, 2016

Starcore Nuclear high temperature gas reactor and Northern nuclear pebble bed

Next Big FutureCanada has several projects for small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) and very small modular nuclear reactors (VSMRs). VSMRs are typically of capacity below 15 MW while SMRs are usually up to 300 MW.

Remote communities, mining and oil/gas production sites, and government facilities are the three most likely customers of remotely-deployed VSMRs.

Canada has over 200,000 people in over 200 remote communities and 80% of energy comes from diesel powered generators, he said. "It's getting increasingly difficult year by year to bring [diesel] in," Humphries said.

The ice roads of northern Canada are crucial supply routes for providing fuel and resources to remote communities and mining operations in the winter.

The ice roads were late to freeze this winter and some reports suggested climate change was having an impact on the seasonal cycle. Other fuel transport measures include road train, special flights and ice breaker ships.

"You're talking up to C$2/kWh [to supply electricity] in those regions," Humphries said.

Many nuclear vendors are targeting initial Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE) in the range of C$0.30-0.40/kWh with a long-term goal of reducing costs to a level that would compete economically with the cost of power in an urban area, Humphries added.

StarCore Nuclear is developing a 30 MWe high temperature gas nuclear reactor. It is safe, reliable and operated remotely. This makes it ideal for two types of frontier customers in Canada – mines and villages. These customers currently rely on diesel generation and propane, which are expensive and increasingly unreliable due to shrinking ice road capacity. Starcore has identified two dozen mines where they can offer electricity and heat at prices well below the mine's alternative cost and still be highly profitable. Villages are currently heavily subsidized by governments and utilities. For the larger villages, or those near mines, we can offer retail customers electricity at attractive prices, enable community development, substantially reduce the subsidies, and earn strong profits.

Beyond Canada, there are 1.3 billion people worldwide who have no access to electricity, and another billion relying on expensive diesel generation. Using the experience gained in Canada, we will offer affordable electricity and clean water to customers in this huge market, significantly improving their living standards and health, while earning attractive profits.


This is a new design from Northern Nuclear Industries in Canada, combining a number of features in unique combination. The 100 MWt, 36 MWe reactor has a graphite moderator, TRISO fuel in pebbles, lead (Pb-208) as primary coolant, all as integral pool-type arrangement at near atmospheric pressure. It delivers steam at 370°C, and is also envisaged as an industrial heat plant. The fuel pebbles are in four cells, each with graphite reflectors, and capacity can be increased by adding cells. Shutdown rods are similar to those in CANDU reactors. Passive decay heat removal is by air convection. The company present it as a Gen IV design

Read more »