Polish nuclear scientists in collaboration with Japanese specialists are working on a new type of HTGR nuclear reactors. The new technology involves the use of high-temperature gas-cooled reactors.

Safety first

The most important feature of the new reactors is their safety. HTGR reactors use helium as a coolant, which will not lead to a violent chain reaction in the event of an accident (this was the reaction that led to the Chernobyl disaster, where water was the coolant).

TRISO fuel

HTGR reactors will generate energy by using the so-called TRISO fuel. These are small-sized balls (less than 1 millimetre in diameter) that have a fissile core surrounded by layers of ceramic coatings. Their main advantage is that they are thermally resistant (temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius and pressures of 1,000 atmospheres).
It will be possible to use plutonium from decommissioned nuclear weapons or used fuel from LWR reactors to develop TRISO fuel, which will help to protect the environment.

Applications of HTGR

The new reactors have the potential to successfully replace current traditional heat sources used in industry. Hydrogen generated through pyrolysis can support the development of low-carbon transport and industry, and this is expected to help achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 within the European Union.

Bartłomiej Haba