The National Center for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) and the Polish Ministry of Education and Science have signed a contract for the implementation of another batch of design works for the High Temperature Gas cooled Reactor (HTGR). The event, which took place on 12 May 2021 in Otwock-Świerk, was attended by Michał Kurtyka, Minister of Climate and Environment, Przemysław Czarnek, Minister of Education and Science, and Krzysztof Kurek, Director of the National Center for Nuclear Research.

The technology of high-temperature reactors opens up new possibilities for emission-free, stable, safe and affordable supply of industrial heat and energy to the Polish chemical industry. These reactors typically operate up to 1000°C depending on the application, and can, for instance, supply heat for many processes that are important for industrialized countries. In the future, they could replace existing, conventional installations supplying heat and power to chemical plants or produce hydrogen at the required large scale for use i.a. in transportation or in the chemical, steel or cement industries. The intended construction of the HTGR is thus a great opportunity for Polish science and economy. It is expected to create competences and international competitiveness of Polish research teams in a highly specialized and relevant domain with the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the Polish energy mix and thus contributing to the achievement of the European Green Deal targets.

The contract stipulates that the conditions for the construction of a high-temperature research reactor in Poland be created within three years at NCBJ and that the so-called “basic design” of such a device be prepared. The reactor will be a prismatic type HTGR using TRISO fuel producing approx. 30 MW thermal power at an outlet temperature of 750°C. Thanks to the extremely robust fuel and unique design features, HTGR features passive and inherent safety characteristics preventing radioactive releases from core for any accident.

NCBJ has been consistently building competences in the field of HTGR for many years. In addition to several specific Polish projects, NCBJ has been participating in a number of related EURATOM research projects and has coordinated the projects NC2I-R and GEMINI+, recently completed. The consortia of these projects comprised well-recognized companies, manufacturers and research organizations from across Europe and overseas, including the US, Japan and South Korea.

The newly signed contract between the Polish government and NCBJ is an important milestone towards deployment of a commercial HTGR in the future.