SK Group ties up with U.S. company TerraPower for SMR cooperation

By Lim Chang-won Posted : May 17, 2022, 17:03 Updated : May 17, 2022, 17:03

[Courtesy of SK Group]

SEOUL -- South Korea's SK Group tied up with TerraPower, an American nuclear reactor design and development engineering company,  for comprehensive business cooperation in the development and commercialization of next-generation mall modular reactor technology.

Small modular reactors (SMRs) can address the limitations of light-water reactors using low-enriched uranium that cost a lot to replace nuclear fuel and require a vast emergency evacuation zone, nonproliferation and waste management. Small reactors designed with modular technology allow for less on-site construction, increased containment efficiency, and enhanced safety.\

SK Group has paid attention to SMR technology as part of efforts to achieve "Net Zero" which means cutting greenhouse gas emissions to as close to zero as possible, with any remaining emissions re-absorbed from the atmosphere.

In a ceremony in Seoul on May 17, SK Inc., an investment-oriented holding company, and SK Innovation signed a memorandum of understanding with TerraPowe to discover various business cooperation opportunities by using TerraPower's SMR technology and radioactive isotope production capabilities. SK Group said its cooperation with TerraPower would help domestic companies secure core SMR technologies and foster related industries. 

TerraPower develops a class of nuclear fast reactors called the traveling wave reactor (TWR). One of TerraPower's primary investors is Bill Gates. The major benefit of TWR is high fuel utilization in a manner that does not require nuclear reprocessing and could eventually eliminate the need to enrich uranium. The reactor could be buried below ground, where it could run for an estimated 100 years. 

In June 2021, TerraPower and PacifiCorp, an American electric power company, announced plans to build a sodium fast reactor (Natrium) that combines a molten sodium reactor with a molten salt energy storage system. TerraPower has also technologies to produce actinium-225 (Ac-225), a radioactive isotope for treatment. 
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