Ultra Safe Nuclear Origin Story
Ultra Safe Nuclear was started by Dr. Francesco Venneri in 2011. He was an inventor of Fully Ceramic Micro-Encapsulated fuel at a prior company and wanted to work on commercializing the technology. He spent the first few years consulting on government and commercial contracts while also investigating if FCM fuel could be used in existing commercial reactors. He determined that the best course of action was to design a new advanced reactor concept to use FCM fuel.
Francesco started forming partnerships with collaborators and identifying markets and customers that were favorable to this new concept. In 2015 and 2016, he partnered with Mark Mitchell and his team of reactor and power plant engineers to develop the concept for the Micro Modular Reactor. Francesco's son, Paolo Venneri, also finished his PhD at this time and received a NASA SBIR award to develop a passive reactivity control device for a nuclear thermal rocket. Shortly after, Francesco received his first Round A investment to commercialize the technology he’d been developing over the prior years.
Since 2017, the space-focused division has continued to receive grants and awards, most notably a Nuclear Thermal Propulsion Reactor Concept award in summer 2021 and a multi-phase research effort with the Nuclear Advanced Propulsion and Power program of the Defense Innovation Unit to develop a radio-isotope-powered spacecraft prototype in summer 2023.
In 2018, USNC formed a Canadian joint partnership with utility Ontario Power Generation. In 2019, USNC and GFP announced the project to build, own and operate a full-scale MMR at Chalk River Laboratories and submit the first regulatory application for an SMR in Canada. In 2019, the MMR system completed the first phase of Vendor Design Review with the CNSC.
In September 2020, USNC opened the Advanced Ceramics Manufacturing Facility in Salt Lake City, Utah to develop FCM fuel, particularly focused on 3D printing of fuel forms.
In October 2020, we announced a next generation project to deploy research reactor at University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign under the DOE's advanced reactor demonstration program - the first proposed generation IV research reactor at a US University.
In February 2022, we began to establish feasibility for the first commercial MMR in Alaska with Copper Valley Electric Partners.
In August 2022, Dr. Kurt Terrani opened our Pilot Fuel Manufacturing facility in Oak Ridge Tennessee equipped with a production-scale pilot line to produce FCM fuel and fuel for space applications.
In August 2022, we extended our framework agreement with Hyundai Engineering to procure materials and services for our MMR projects globally. In 2022, we were appointed to participate in the Advanced Modular Reactor Feasibility and Development Project in the UK. In December 2022, we signed an MOU with McMaster University in Canada and an MOU with Lappeenranta University of Technology in Finland to study deployment of our MMRs. In January 2023, we announced our intent to form a joint venture with Framatome to manufacture TRISOs and our FCM planned in late 2025.