CORDIS - EU research results

Research and Development in support of the GEMINI Initiative

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GEMINI Plus (Research and Development in support of the GEMINI Initiative)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2021-02-28

Electricity generation by the nuclear industry can only bring a limited contribution to net-zero carbon emission by 2050, as electricity represents less than 20% of the energy consumption in both Europe and in World. The rest of the energy is provided essentially by fossil fuel. Heat generation for industry is responsible for 40% of the emissions. Therefore, the supply of CO2-free heat to industry by nuclear technology will bring a substantial contribution to realizing EU net-zero carbon emission objectives. Additionally, nuclear process heat could enable CO2-free production of hydrogen and synthetic fuels, also contributing to reduce the emissions of the transport sector. Implementation of HTGR as the source of heat for cogeneration can significantly contribute to the Green Deal objective of carbon neutrality in 2050. The objective of GEMINI+ is to develop a nuclear solution for providing CO2-free heat to industry.
The overall objective of GEMINI+ project was to provide a conceptual design of a high temperature nuclear cogeneration system with ability to supply process steam to industry. Equally important objectives are providing a licensing framework for this system and a business plan for a full scale demonstration. An important task was to analyse innovative options which are of benefit for the demonstration of safety and performance, and which enhance the competitiveness and market potential of a nuclear cogeneration plant. Residual technology gaps have to be identified to point out necessary R&D actions. Selected applications had to be analysed including economic competitiveness.
One of the objectives was to develop the safety approach suitable for an HTGR connected to an industrial facility. Guidance studies were produced to help stakeholders for selecting the relevant design options and reducing the licensing risks. Existing safety requirements issued by the IAEA and the US NRC were analysed regarding their applicability to the possible HTGR licensing. Several analyses with different scope demonstrated that high level existing safety requirements, as well as other requirements under development, could be adapted to an HTGR licensing procedure. Options for acknowledgement of specific HTGR safety features in a licensing procedure were identified. Considering the combination of an HTGR with conventional facilities nearby it was confirmed that the safety requirements addressing external events already cover this issue.
A particular objective was to define the requirements, assumptions and constraints for an HTGR dedicated to industrial cogeneration. These took into account safety and licensing requirements, end-user requirements identified in previous projects, operator requirements and additional assumptions and constraints related to strategic or technical decisions. The options for developing and justifying the GEMINI+ configuration for European application were selected starting from earlier designs. A final description and justification of the conceptual GEMINI+ system was provided at the conclusion of the project with particular focus on the systems / components that are critical for safety and performance. The proposed design offers a standardised solution for the versatile needs of industry in terms of sharing between electricity generation and steam outputs.
Innovative options were analysed, which are of benefit for the demonstration of safety and performance, and which enhance the competitiveness and market potential of a nuclear cogeneration plant. The most critical components of a GEMINI+ type nuclear cogeneration system were identified and their development, testing and qualification status was reviewed. Some innovation and further knowledge recovery from past projects are needed. Efforts are necessary to match technical and regulatory requirements for demonstration with the capabilities of industrial suppliers of components. Some other innovative approaches were analysed and occasionally identified as not such good ideas.
The next objective was to prepare demonstration of an HTGR plant producing high temperature steam with industrial processes, most particularly processes of the chemical industry applications. Based on the same reactor and primary system, the 2 options were prepared:
• High temperature industrial process steam as the main product, with cogeneration of electricity,
• Electricity generation with low temperature heat cogeneration.
Potential manufacturers have been identified for the most critical Systems, Structures and Components. A few limited R&D topics have been identified. A schedule for the development and construction of the GEMINI+ system demonstration plant has been built. The Project took into account the latest decision of the Polish Government to have a first step of demonstration, with an experimental scale HTGR
The project started with communication tasks that included the visual identity of the project, the website and social media. All tasks in the work package have been launched. The Business Advisory Group was set up and various meetings took place to get the feedback of the members on the project brochure and business plan. The GEMINI+ project was presented at several international conferences, one paper was published and more dissemination activities are planned in the next period. Training activities on thermal-hydraulics were held in May 2018 and June 2019. The Summer School was organised from 1 to 5 June 2020. Finally, the knowledge platform gathering all the knowledge in the field of HTRs was finalised and is available on SNETP website.
Project objectives have been met and the work programme has been implemented with all deliverables issued. An additional deliverable was even issued to assess the impact of the decision of the Polish government to have a small experimental HTGR constructed on the NCBJ campus, in Swierk, on the whole programme of demonstration of high temperature industrial nuclear cogeneration in Europe.
During the implementation of GEMINI+, commitment to deploy HTGR technology was reaffirmed at the government level in strategic documents: National Smart Specialisation, Polish Roadmap for Research Infrastructures (14 Jan 2020), Energy policy of Poland until 2040 (updated Feb. 2021).
As shown by some actions within the GEMINI+ project, the fast implementation approach appeared too risky for industrial partners. Therefore, the decision of the Polish authorities was to introduce a preliminary stage, with a test reactor to be built in Poland. Achievements of GEMINI+ projects are taken as the basis for preparatory works on national level.
The EUHTER design should maximize similarity with an industrial GEMINI+ reactor design. This approach is expected to facilitate a number of missions for EUHTER.
Finally, the agreement was signed between NCBJ and the Ministry of Education and Science on the preparation of the basic design of experimental HTGR.
In summary, the GEMINI+ project and its results created significant milestone for the deployment of HTGR in Poland and also wider – in Europe. It was also important for preparation of national research and engineering staff to work on HTGR. The further collaboration of Poland with NC2I partners on European level is planned and much anticipated. A short term demonstration in Poland followed by a steady, but realistic commercial deployment can allow a significant contribution to the Green Deal objective of carbon neutrality in 2050.
GEMINI + Poster - FISA