General Atomics, Framatome Collaborate to Develop Fast Modular Reactor
General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems (GA-EMS) announced today that it is collaborating with Framatome Inc. to develop a new helium-cooled 50-Megawatt electric (MWe) Fast Modular Reactor (FMR) concept that will produce safe, carbon-free electricity and can be factory built and assembled on-site, which will reduce costs and enable incremental capacity additions.
The GA-EMS led team will be able to demonstrate the FMR design as early as 2030 and anticipates it being ready for commercial use by the mid-2030s.
“We are extremely excited to partner with Framatome to design a safe, cost-effective, and scalable nuclear reactor,” stated Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS. “Our two companies bring together more than 100 years of combined experience in maturing advanced nuclear technologies to help secure future U.S. clean energy needs.”
“This collaboration builds on our long relationship with General Atomics with a shared interest in advancing nuclear energy technologies to create a cleaner world for generations to come,” said Bernard Fontana, Chief Executive Officer of Framatome. “With our experience and expertise in designing reactor systems and components for advanced and small modular reactors, our team is helping to make that vision a reality.”
The FMR will be designed for enhanced safety and ease of operation with fast-response load following and overall high efficiency. The passively safe gas-cooled FMR will use a non-hazardous helium coolant—a chemically inert gas that is nonexplosive, non-corrosive, and does not become activated. Because the reactor is dry-cooled and uses virtually no water to operate, it can be sited nearly anywhere. The power conversion forgoes the use of complex steam generators and pressurizers, and the fuel will operate for approximately 9 years before requiring replacement. The direct helium Brayton cycle enables fast grid response, with up to a 20% per minute power ramping rate for load following, and high overall efficiency of 45% during normal operation. The automatic control of the reactor power and turbomachinery keep the reactor at a constant temperature that mitigates thermal cycle fatigue associated with most load-following reactors.
“For a clean energy future, GA-EMS is bringing together the team and technologies to realize a community-friendly, advanced nuclear plant that works seamlessly with renewables,” said Dr. Christina Back, vice president of Nuclear Technologies and Materials at GA-EMS. “There is strong interest across the industry in the future commercialization of the FMR. Our design will employ technologies for safe and reliable operation that can be sited virtually anywhere to expand distributed electricity generation.”