Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), founded in 2011, is a Seattle-based company that develops and deploys safe nuclear energy solutions. USNC has three divisions: Core, Power, and Tech. Core Division develops fuels and materials, Power Division develops energy systems, and Tech Division develops advanced technology targeting space applications. The company is led by Founder and CEO Francesco Venneri.
USNC's Micro Modular Reactor (MMR) is a 5-MWe (15-MWth) high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) powered by USNC's own Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM) fuel. FCM fuel provides clean nuclear energy by enclosing tristructural-isotropic (TRISO) fuel within a fully dense silicon carbide matrix, forming fuel pellets that are then put inside graphite blocks. Stacks of graphite blocks make up the reactor core, which is the MMR's powerhouse. The combination of the reactor core's low power density––1.23 W/cm³––and high temperature capacity result in slow and predictable temperature changes. MMR fuel cartridges are rated to last twenty years; beyond that, replacements are available if the continuation of service is desired. The MMR is a standalone device that does not require any active systems or services to operate, even in the case of an accident or emergency. It is incapable of melting because the reactor's heat naturally dissipates into the surrounding environment. MMRs can be linked together to provide power for entire communities and can be installed in severe weather environments, so they can power areas almost anywhere in the world.
EmberCore is a nuclear chargeable ceramic that produces heat and X-rays without the use of external power. EmberCores are made up of "embers," commercially available inert isotopes charged with neutrons in a nuclear reactor. EmberCores are built to match individual mission requirements. They come packaged inside a radiation-absorbing shield, which can be customized to provide high-intensity X-ray sources for scientific and engineering applications without the need for external power. EmberCore can also be paired with power conversion systems to act as a battery for long-duration missions that operate far away from external energy sources.
USNC is in the process of developing a class of nuclear thermal propulsion (NTP) engines with variants for different space applications, including Mars missions, technology demonstrations, and commercial applications. USNC's NTP engines have payloads three to ten times greater than typical chemical propulsion engines. NTP engine cores are designed to prevent nuclear explosions from occurring during launch failures or accidents, such as water submersion. USNC began developing NTP engines in September 2021, following its selection by the Idaho National Laboratory for a space exploration project funded by NASA.