Our energy market assessment began our direction towards microreactors.
Interview With Jay Jiang YU, Founder and Executive Chairman of Nano Nuclear Energy Inc.

This interview was conducted by Selva Ozelli


Tell us about NANO Nuclear Energy Inc..

We are an emerging micro-Small Modular Reactor (µSMR) and Advanced Nuclear Reactor (ANR) technology company led by a world-class nuclear engineering team developing smaller, cheaper and safer advanced portable carbon-free energy solutions utilizing proprietary novel reactor designs. NANO Nuclear is committed to incorporating the latest technology into its own proprietary novel reactor designs, intellectual properties, and research methods. NANO Nuclear’s subsidiary, HALEU Energy Fuel Inc., will focus on the future development of a domestic source for a High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) fuel fabrication pipeline for the broader advanced nuclear reactor industry and providing fuel to power NANO Nuclear reactors. NANO Nuclear’s products in technical development are “ZEUS”, a solid core battery reactor, and “ODIN”, a low-pressure coolant reactor, each of which represent advanced developments in portable, on-demand capable, advanced nuclear micro reactors.

What does your company do?

Currently, we are principally focused on two specific business lines as part of our development strategy:

  • Advanced Portable Micro Nuclear Reactor Business. We are developing the next-generation advanced nuclear microreactors, in particular ZEUS, a solid core battery reactor, and ODIN, a low-pressure salt coolant reactor. With these products, we are advancing the development of next generation, portable, on-demand capable, advanced nuclear micro reactors. In a strategic partnership project agreement and review with the Idaho National Laboratory, which is the preeminent U.S. government laboratory for nuclear energy research and development (INL), and some of the world’s foremost nuclear scientists and engineers, we believe our reactors will have the potential to disrupt the global energy landscape.  Our goal is to commercially launch one of these products as soon as 2030. 
  • Fuel Fabrication Business. Through our subsidiary, HALEU Energy Fuel Inc., and in review with The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and INL, we are seeking to develop a domestic High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) fuel fabrication facility to supply the fuel not only for our own reactor products, but to the broader advanced nuclear reactor industry in general.  As described further below, we hope to have our fuel fabrication facility near INL in operation as soon as 2027.

How do you produce smaller, cheaper and safer advanced portable carbon-free energy solutions utilizing proprietary novel reactor designs? 

A key pillar of our business plan is to provide readily replaceable mobile reactors which it can provide to customers, along with operative personnel, to power projects, residential and commercial enterprises, and major development projects. Our objective and vision is to be a commercial and domestic energy supply leader within the U.S. nuclear industry, and to advance U.S. domestic and foreign policy and national security priorities. The mobile, lower-cost and ultra-safe solid core model of our micro-reactor vision will provide a clean energy option that supports initiatives for sustained international engagement and promotes enhanced and more efficient cooperation and assistance in the application of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, science, and technology. We will also drive resources to projects and activities in developing countries of greatest need by supplying energy to areas removed from the grid.

Our goal is to create a commercially focused, diversified and vertically integrated technology-driven nuclear energy company that will capture market share in the very large and growing nuclear energy sector.  To advance our plans, since our founding in 2022, our management has secured high level connections within key U.S. government agencies, including the DOE, the INL and Oak Ridge, which are a part of the DOE’s national nuclear laboratory system. Our company also maintains important collaborations with leading researchers at the University of Cambridge and The University of California, Berkeley. Our team brings extensive technical, capital, and public markets experience to our company, which we will leverage to advance our plans.

Tell us more about NANO Nuclear’s subsidiary, HALEU Energy Fuel Inc..

In 2023, we established a subsidiary, HALEU Energy Fuel Inc. to concentrate specifically on creating a domestic fuel fabrication facility of High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) to supply the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors. In February 2023, we were selected as an official founding member of the DOE’s new HALEU Consortium to develop the U.S.’ domestic capability for the manufacture of HALEU and its fabrication. Our commercial and strategic aim for HALEU Energy Fuel is to construct facilities capable of delivering the HALEU fuel fabrication capability able to fabricate a variety of different fuel forms, with an intended customer base to include other SMR companies, the U.S.’ nuclear laboratories’ HALEU needs, and the DOE. Our proposed fabrication activity aligns exactly with the DOE’s HALEU fuel mission to return nuclear fuel manufacturing capabilities to the United States.    

We intend to design, construct and commission a commercial nuclear fuel fabrication facility to supply fabricated fuel to the next generation of advanced nuclear reactor companies, our own reactors currently under development, the U.S. nuclear industry, the U.S. National Laboratories, and the DOE’s nuclear fuel needs as necessary. The facility’s intended capability is to fabricate a variety of different fuel forms as required by U.S. industry and its customer base, using received fuel from market recognized fuel enrichment sources in the U.S.. Our proposed fuel fabrication facility is intended to form part of an integrated system with the INL’s facilities, being sited directly outside the INL facilities to eliminate transport over civilian roads and making use of INL’s capabilities such as fuel characterization.

Tell us more about “ZEUS”, a solid core battery reactor.

We are developing two advanced portable nuclear micro reactors in technical design and development. The first, “ZEUS” reactor, a Solid Core Battery Reactor, designed by world-class engineers trained at one of the leading USA’s University, has a fully solid core, where heat is removed solely by thermal conduction. This requires the deployment of high conductivity, high melting materials, and careful materials design. The reactor will use uranium dioxide fuel, so no new fuel developments are necessary. Reactivity will be controlled with absorber drums outside of the central core. The generated heat will be conducted from the fuel to the outside of the core via thermal conduction through a thermally conductive material, allowing for the elimination of coolant, creating a far safer reactor than historically developed. Heat will be removed from the outside of the core by recirculated air or helium gas, which delivers the heat to the gas turbine to produce electricity. The gas turbine will be affixed to the top of the reactor to reduce piping and minimize the size of the plant. The benefit of not incorporating a primary liquid loop reduces the manufacturing costs, and enhances simplicity for modelling, testing, optimizing, and constructing. The secondary loop outside the monolith will be inert gas allowing to reach high temperatures and direct heating of a gas turbine which will be compact and small. Without coolant, typical reactor pumps and piping can be removed from the design, allowing for further compactness, with the aim being to construct a full core and electricity generating gas turbine within a container meeting International Organization for Standardization specifications. The smaller power core will also mean less neutrons are absorbed by the non-fissionable materials, allowing for longer operational life despite the small core.

Tell us more about  “ODIN”, a low-pressure coolant reactor, each of which represents advanced developments in portable, on-demand capable, advanced nuclear micro reactors. 

Our second reactor in development, “ODIN” reactor, will be a Low-Pressure Coolant Reactor, which uses relatively simple uranium and zirconium HALEU hydride. The zirconium hydride densely packs hydrogen and so provides substantial moderation. Low pressure “solar” salt (sodium-potassium nitrate eutectic) coolant will be used to minimize the stress on structural components and improve the reliability and service life. The design will take advantage of the natural convection of the coolant for heat transfer to the power conversion cycle at full power, as well as for decay heat removal during reactor shutdown, operating transients, and off-normal conditions. A nitrogen or open-air Brayton cycle will be used for power conversion due to its simplicity, flexibility, and its wide use within the conventional power industry. Reactivity control system design will have high reliability and robustness through minimizing the number of moving parts.

The aim of our small reactor projects is to advance the development of a small scale (what we call “NANOscale”) reactors with innovative passive cooling mechanisms that do not require the use of a forced flow liquid coolant in the core, avoiding all the associated safety risks and materials challenges. The project aims to complete the design and concept evaluation for these reactors in under a two-year timeframe, progress through demonstration and physical test work, and initiate the licensing, certification, and development processes required to build a licensed prototype. We intend to develop a customer base and funding avenue to ensure the reactor concept finds its path towards commercial deployment in coming years. Both reactors will be designed for safe operation, ease of use, simple maintenance, and functionality. The reactors aim to reduce construction as well as operation and maintenance costs due to in-factory manufacturing and servicing. It is intended to simplify the use and reactor operation to reduce personnel costs.

Who can use your products? 

Our energy market assessment began our direction towards microreactors. Our initial assessment included the consideration of other energy sources, such as wind and solar. SMRs were initially examined, but it became apparent that the market with far larger potential was in more deployable energy systems which could service remote locations more readily; the only candidate that could satisfy this market was microreactors because of their high-capacity factors. The market has exceedingly large potential, with tens of thousands of mining operations running on diesel fuel, which could financially benefit from a steady source of clean and portable energy over a 10-20 year period. We identified a huge potential customer base for deployable mobile reactors, for remote industrial and manufacturing projects, current and previously uneconomic mining sites, oil, and gas projects, military bases, remote towns and communities, islands or emergency sites (post-earthquake, tsunami, hurricane etc.) to re-establish electrical power during the absence of electric grid availability. Additionally, tens of thousands of mine sites which are not currently economically viable could suddenly be made viable with inexpensive, clean energy, creating the potential to free up huge deposits of mineral wealth. This possibility can be applied most notably to Africa where enormous mineral wealth exists but is often inaccessible due to the power demands of modern mining operations. Similarly, all remote industrial projects could potentially benefit from our microreactors. Wherever diesel generators are deployed, our microreactors could provide a power source with fewer inherent logistical challenges, as they do not require daily refueling like diesel generators.

Other large markets identified included remote habitation. We believe based on market research that over a hundred remote settlements in Canada run exclusively on diesel. This observation was complemented by the observation that countries with numerous islands, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, the United States, Sweden, Philippines and others also have large numbers of inhabited islands sustained predominantly by diesel fuel. Catering to this market would open tens of thousands of sales opportunities to our company.

Anything else you would like to add? 

We believe our achievements to date and our business plans are positioning our company to be a leading participant in the U.S. nuclear industry through simultaneously rebuilding and introducing national capabilities to drive the resurgent nuclear energy industry. We further believe that our timing and approach into the industry have been optimal, with insight into national capability deficiencies and an understanding of the difficulties faced by other commercial nuclear energy, particularly microreactor, companies. Manyl microreactor companies have advanced using funds acquired from government grants or awards. Even with private funding, they have been stifled by lack of investor interest because of the long return timelines and high risks.

Despite the early stage of our company, we believe we are differentiated in many ways. Firstly, we have not relied on government funding to date and our executives have experience in raising funding for projects. We have been able to attract investors from the industry who believe in our vision and plan.

On the technical front, we have benefited from insight into the problems which affected earlier movers within the nuclear space. Large SMR companies have raised billions of dollars for development but have been stalled by the lag in developing or acquiring the fuel necessary to advance their reactors. This led to our close collaboration with national laboratories to build our own fuel fabrication facility and use more conventional fuel with greater operational history. We have also secured better high placed government contacts than other companies, including a Secretary Bill Richardson, a former U.S. Secretary of Energy who is the Chairman of our Executive Advisory Board, as well as other former high placed military and government veterans. This was complemented by bringing in experts involved in every major part of the nuclear industry, from regulation to laboratories, to technical teams. Our technical team is world class, with simple and realizable reactor concepts that do not require exotic fuels and who are aware of all the difficulties faced by almost every other reactor company who has chosen alternative designs.
The SMR market has a high barrier to entry given the expertise required, and the larger investment necessary to progress reactor designs to prototype, and then through licensing. This high barrier to entry has acted in our favor, leaving huge opportunities and business areas vacant for our involvement. Moreover, government investment has not compensated for the lack of private investment going into the commercial nuclear sector. Previous strategies to purchase military grade nuclear materials to downblend to required fuel enrichment level for certain programs have allowed these capability gaps to persist. This creates an opportunistic and rare situation where large areas of an enormous industry are available for development. We have begun and expect to continue to bring private investment to these undeveloped areas and quickly establish ourselves as a necessary component in the national infrastructure system, while providing ourselves an advantage to develop business and revenue sources to de-risk our microreactor development.

How can people reach you?

For more information, please visit our website at https://nanonuclearenergy.com
Or please contact our company at:                
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (212) 634-9206


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