Research microreactor planned in Lappeenranta
Created 15.12.2022
Updated 15.12.2022

LUT University and Seattle-based Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aiming to deploy a micro-modular reactor (MMR®) as a research and test reactor in the city of Lappeenranta, Finland. The planned project will also involve local authorities and stakeholders.

Juhani Hyvärinen, professor of nuclear engineering at LUT, says that the reactor will be operated as a training, research and demonstration facility. It will be connected to the district heating network of Lappeenrannan Energia, the local municipal utility.

“The safety and design of the micro-modular reactor makes partnering with Ultra Safe Nuclear the ideal choice for LUT and for Finland as we work toward decarbonized municipal and industrial heat supply and a carbon-neutral world,” Hyvärinen says.

The micro-modular reactor will demonstrate exceptionally safe and environmentally friendly nuclear technology, enabling investigation into future energy systems where small reactors can play multiple roles. The MMR is gas-cooled and can supply process heat at temperatures above 500 degrees centigrade, being well suited for cogeneration of electricity and heat.

The planned reactor is the first microreactor in Finland and an internationally significant facility.

“The work LUT is doing in transitioning to a carbon-neutral world is important, and the micro-modular reactor is the perfect research and training facility to advance their knowledge and experience – especially when it comes to decarbonizing district heating systems,” says Francesco Venneri, CEO and founder of Ultra Safe Nuclear.

District heating is widely used in Finland. Fossil fuels such as peat and coal provide more than a third of the district heating. Coal is to be phased out by 2029. At 15 to 30 MW of thermal energy, the MMR is small enough to be located near district heating loads and can be deployed quickly to achieve emission reduction targets. The unmatched safety of the MMR and its fully ceramic micro-encapsulated fuel mean owners and regulators can site these MMR Energy Systems with confidence.

The project at LUT joins the growing list of global training, test, and research MMR projects at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the United States and at McMaster University in Canada.

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation is a global leader and strong vertical integrator of nuclear technologies and services. Major initiatives include the micro modular reactor MMR, the fully ceramic micro-encapsulated nuclear fuel, and nuclear power and propulsion technologies for space exploration. The company is demonstrating MMR Energy Systems at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories with Ontario Power Generation and at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, with new deployment projects underway in the United States, Canada, and Europe.