AKER Solutions’ Teesside team has designed the world’s first nuclear plant of its kind.
Bosses say the operation to bring a 600 megawatt pilot plant onstream by 2030 could bring global recognition - and hundreds of jobs - to Teesside.
Their Accelerator Driven Thorium Reactor (ADTR) could revolutionise the global nuclear sector by becoming the first commercial-scale plant to use thorium as a fuel instead of uranium.
The pioneering design has also just been handed a prestigious Energy Award at this year’s IChemE (Institution of Chemical Engineers) Innovations and Excellence Awards. Now the search is on for partners to build the £100m pilot project.
Thorium is cheaper, easier to use and up to five times more abundant than uranium - and can also be used to dispose of radioactive waste created by traditional uranium reactors.
Bosses predicting a rush for uranium when the fourth generation fleet of nuclear reactors gets under way say the ADTR could be a cost-effective solution.
The team at Stockton has been working with Nobel Prize winner Professor Carlo Rubbia in Geneva to fine tune the technology.
Aker’s ADTR project manager Vicky Ashley said: “We have been working on this for the last couple of years. We think it’s got massive potential.
“We’re looking at a reactor to be built around 2030, to fit in with the fourth generation of nuclear plants.
“Uranium will become more expensive as more reactors come online in the future.
“Thorium can burn radioactive waste generated by uranium reactors, which deals with the issue of waste disposal and long-term impact of uranium.
“The Indians are using thorium in conventional reactors, but this is the first commercial design that helps to reduce costs.
“We are talking with countries like China and we’re starting to get interest from organisations that would like to collaborate.
“This could bring a lot of recognition to Teesside and hundreds of jobs. It’s a very exciting project.”