Neext Engineering launches into SMR

A French start-up, Neext Engineering, is born in Belfort. It is positioned on the SMR market.

A start-up engineering small modular nuclear reactors is being created in Belfort, born from the association Apsiis, founded by General Electric trade unionists and local entrepreneurs, the founders said Tuesday.

Neext Engineering, officially launched on Wednesday, was born from a working group dedicated to nuclear power of the Association de préfiguration de sociétés d’intégration et d’ingénierie systèmes (Apsiis).

This association aimed “to keep jobs” and maintain the “engineering” skills of the region after the “disengagement of major donors,” said Philippe Petitcolin, president of Apsiis and trade unionist at CFE-CGC at GE.

The start-up is positioned on small innovative nuclear reactors.

In Belfort on February 10, during his speech on the revival of the nuclear industry, French President Emmanuel Macron announced €1 billion in aid for the development of small modular reactors (SMRs), including €500 million for EDF’s Nuward project and €500 million for innovative projects.

A call for projects on innovative nuclear energy, within the framework of France 2030, is launched and Neext Engineering is positioned.

Today, SMRs equip French aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines. There is an international demand to build smaller nuclear power plants based on these reactors.

“It all started with an intuition” that Belfort had the necessary skills to develop these innovative reactors, confides Jean Maillard, general engineer and president of the young company.

“We rely on a collective skill, an integrator’s know-how specific to northern Franche-Comté, which is 40-50 years old,” insists Alexis Sesmat, another founding member.

“We are moving from an innovative nuclear reactor to an innovative nuclear power plant,” says Jean Maillard. A power plant, with a capacity of 10 to 100 megawatts, which can be sold on catalog.

The company will file its project in late 2022, early 2023 with the state.

“We will propose an innovative design for these small nuclear power plants. One of the keys to innovation is to reinvent the way we design the installation,” says Jean Maillard.

According to him, the market potential of these modular power plants needs to be explored and they could very well interest private players in the long term.

“This is not competition to Nuward,” the founders reassure. “We are opening up other avenues.”

At the same time, the company will offer integration engineering services to ensure its turnover.

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