Making nuclear energy more circular: Thorizon receives 10 million euros from French government for development molten salt reactor

Published on March 26, 2024

DIFFER partner Thorizon has been included in the French government’s nuclear innovation program called France 2030. In addition to the grant, the program provides access to expertise in nuclear research, European legislation, and business development. With the subsidy, Thorizon intends to accelerate its ambition to develop a small modular reactor based on molten salt, using nuclear waste from conventional nuclear plants as an important fuel source. This marks a first step towards making nuclear energy more circular. The future facility aims to provide clean energy to 250 thousand households.

Thorizon is one of ten startups supported by the French government. “Only two of those start-ups have been founded outside of France, Newcleo and Thorizon” Kiki Lauwers, CEO of Thorizon, states. “We are very proud to be part of this selected group. It indicates that the design of our facility is considered scientifically and economically feasible.” Thorizon started in Amsterdam, where a team of 20 engineers works on the new reactor. Earlier this year a second location has been opened in Lyon, which will grow to a similar size within a few months. “Historically, France has been the centre of nuclear expertise in the world” according to Lauwers.

France 2030
DIFFER partner Thorizon has been included in the French government’s nuclear innovation program called France 2030

Smart, safe & circular
Thorizon leverages the expertise of several renowned partners in the development of the new modular facility. In addition to Orano, and CEA (French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission), two research institutes in Lille, French consultancy firm Oakridge, the engineering company Tractebel, Dutch NRGIPALLAS in Petten, and DIFFER in Eindhoven are also part of the project.

Beata Tyburska-Pueschel, Ion Beam Facility Project Leader at DIFFER: “We are being subcontracted by Thorizon to perform simultaneous corrosion and proton-irradiation studies of various MSR structural materials. The project will last two years and we will hire a PostDoc colleague to perform that work. Currently, there is a vacancy open for this position. Part of the data will be published openly. I think this development is also important in the context of MMIP for nuclear energy, initiated by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate."

The reactor runs on molten salt, capable of handling very high temperatures under low pressure. This not only makes the facility more sustainable and cost-effective but also very safe. A so-called 'meltdown' or the leakage of radioactive material is impossible. Kiki Lauwers: “In addition to being safe and circular, the Thorizon facility is also 'smart.' Our design is unique due to the use of replaceable cartridges in the reactor core. This allows us to work with materials that do not need to withstand corrosion for fifty to hundred years. These materials are already available today, enabling us to quickly start the realization of the reactor and contribute to the energy transition in the short term.”

Read more about Thorizon, France 2030 and the DIFFER Irradiation-Corrosion Experiment (DICE).

Dutch? Lees hier het Nederlandstalige persbericht van Thorizon.

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