Steve Threlfall, General-Manager, U-Battery
The U-Battery is unique in the UK market, and is “an evolution” of small nuclear reactors used across the globe. The battery is unique as a clean process heat producer. The main selling point being the heat output at around 710 degrees Celsius, this high temperature heat output can be used in industry in the UK and could be used in hydrogen production.
The U-Battery is designed to be “reliable, cheaper (heat energy) than industrial sites can buy”. The UBattery takes 30 years to make back the £50 Million that it costs to build the 10 Mega-Watt thermal reactor. The industrial sites that the U-Battery is designed to facilitate provide £52 Billion to the UK economy. Companies that have the U-battery installed, pay only for the heat. Installation, maintenance, and operation is all completed by U-Battery themselves.
The environmental potential for U-battery is very high and Steve stressed how Nuclear has a huge role to play in the decarbonisation of vital industries through moving away from fossil fuels and carbon emitters. The potential for Hydrogen to power heavy mining equipment and the huge machines that are used in the industry could help drastically reduce the carbon footprint of industries with typically poor records.
As a unique product, the U-Battery does still face some hurdles in terms of restrictions on ‘planning permissions’ which aren’t particularly fit for purpose. Typically, the legislation is outdated and designed for much larger reactors than the U-Battery. Here the Government can support the nuclear industry as a whole by reviewing and updating the laws surrounding nuclear energy.Working TogetherThe U-Battery is not cheap to produce and does require some investment, both time and money. The existing programme will be delivered but investments for future projects could be essential to the growth of the company. Currently engaged in talks with a number of companies on the potential to invest, Steve said, “We don’t have all the skillset… that’s why we’re working with other companies already.” The chance to collaborate with engineering and eventually customer companies allows the potential for growth and a shared vision which could take U-Battery to the forefront of industrial heat and hydrogen production with huge market potential.