The Fund Portfolio

We are pleased to present our current portfolio. Nucleation fund subscribers participate pro-rata in the investments that we make for the quarters to which they have subscribed. We accept new subscribers on a rolling basis, so new subscribers participate in deals going forward, not in the deals that have closed in past quarters. (Investors wishing to participate in Focused Energy or Ultra Safe may still invest through Nucleation’s Syndicate offerings.)

Q4 2022 Investment: To be announced soon

Q3 2022 Investment: Focused Energy

Nucleation Capital will invest in Focused Energy’s Seed Round

[The following is a pre-close announcement summary.]

We are pleased to pre-announce our investment from Q3-2022 in Focused Energy, Nucleation’s first fusion investment. Focused Energy is the leading developer of laser-driven Inertial Fusion Energy (IFE) and the only venture directly benefitting from the large investments into and technical achievements of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists working at the National Ignition Facity, which as Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm has just announced, reached first-ever net energy from fusion earlier in December.

Focused Energy’s fusion strategy is based on the same approach taken by the National Ignition Facility (NIF), which has just achieved the first-ever reported 2.5MJ – 3.15MJ reading, a 120-154% net-positive energy result in a test conducted in early December 2022. This same NIF group achieved a fusion record yield of 1.3MJ, a 70% fusion energy gain factor, in a demonstration of burning plasma in August 2021 which was called the NIF shot “heard around the world.”

NIF’s achievements have brought the high-water mark for laser-driven fusion above those achieved by magnetic fusion, which firmly establishes laser-driven fusion as one of two potentially viable fusion paths. This recent achievement was the result of nearly $5 billion in government funding over the last several decade, first to build the National Ignition Facility and then to conduct tests for the last decade. Focused Energy, whose team includes many experts who have participated in the NIF work, is leap-frogging and extending NIF’s achievements with a plan to boost that performance with an improved fuel target and far more powerful and proprietary lasers.

Focused Energy’s “secret weapon” is the team’s unparalleled commercial laser expertise. Their development plan focuses on a development pathway and expanded production of advanced, high-powered diode lasers that sequentially boost the power and frequency with which they hit their improved targets, to achieve net energy. Meanwhile, the advanced lasers, which the team will commercialize, will provide revenue opportunities in the non-destructive imaging marketplace.

Focused Energy was founded by Todd Ditmire and Markus Roth, both physics professors who are experts in extremely high-powered lasers.

Dr. Todd Ditmire is a Professor of Physics at the University of Texas at Austin, who holds a Ph.D. in Applied Physics and is a director of the Center for High Intensity Laser Science and a member of the DOE’s LaserNetUS network, who serves as Chief Technology Officer. He is also the CEO and founder of National Energetics Inc., a 13-year old company that designs and builds custom high-powered lasers for research and defense. He has spent his career specializing in research on ultra-high peak power lasers and high-energy density plasmas.

Dr. Marcus Roth is a professor in laser and plasma physics in Germany at TU Darmstadt, who did his postdoc work at the Lawrence Livermore National Lab and has a thirty-year career working in laser/plasma interaction. He is serving as Focused Energy’s Chief Science Officer.

Pravesh Patel, who serves as Scientific Director for Focused Energy, earned his doctoral in Physics from the University of Oxford and brings 23 years of experience as a physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Lab working on the National Ignition Facility. 


  • Successor to NIF: Focused Energy’s fusion technology builds on the success of the US National Ignition Facility (NIF), which produced a burning plasma in Aug 2021,* and benefits from having recruited key talent from the NIF team.
  • Blends leading laser + fusion experts. Focused Energy has assembled a rockstar technical team (including key scientists from NIF), in Austin, TX and Darmstadt, Germany, in addition to partnerships with leading industry players and research labs. 
  • Development pathway will produce commercially-valuable lasers. Focused Energy founders bring decades of experience developing, commercializing and selling state-of-the-art lasers into a wide range of commercial applications. They have a signed MOU with Leonardo Electronics US for collaboration on design and supply of highly advanced diode pumped lasers, for use in fusion and LDRSs.
  • Interim revenues will help fund future development. Unlike other fusion ventures, Focused Energy’s laser development will produce a highly desirable laser-driven radiation source (LDRS) that can be marketed into multi-B markets to provide non-destructive material testing, which will enable them generate serious revenue within 3 to 5 years, to help support their continued fusion development.
  • The NDT market is enormous. Focused is already in discussion with potential customers for its advanced proton lasers. This laser will be able to provide identification of the contents and condition of materials in sealed containers or enclosed objects, whether locked shipping containers, dry casks containing nuclear waste, reactors containing molten salts, or the interior of structural components like bridge spans or pre-fabricated construction materials. 

Press Related to the Milestone Set by NIF

Scientists Achieve Nuclear Fusion Breakthrough with Blast of 192 Lasers New York Times, by Kenneth Chang, Dec. 13, 2022.

Nuclear fusion lab achieves ‘ignition’: What does it mean? Nature, by Jeff Tollefson and Elizabeth Gibney, Dec. 13, 2022.

We have ‘ignition’: Fusion breakthrough draws energy gain, NBC News, by Evan Bush and Josh Lederman, Dec. 13, 2022

U.S. to announce fusion energy “breakthrough” The Washington Post., by Evan Halper and Pranshu Verma, Dec. 11, 2022,

US scientists boost clean power hopes with fusion energy breakthrough, by Tom Wilson, Financial Times, Dec. 11, 2022.

Focused Energy Awarded Two DOE Grants

DOE Grants Funding to 10 Private-Public Fusion Energy Research Projects, January 18, 2023.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is funding 10 private-public partnership projects to help push fusion energy development forward. These grants, issued through the DOE Office of Science’s Innovation Network for Fusion Energy program, are one or two-year awards worth between $50,000 and $500,000, and Focused Energy will receive $400,000 total across two projects. They will team up with Scandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories on these projects.  Other fusion companies receiving awards include General Atomics, Tokamak, Commonwealth Fusion Systems, Energy Driven Technologies, Princeton Stellarators, and Type One Energy.

The initiative comes a month after researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory achieved the first fusion ignition in a laboratory setting.

“We were elated when the team at Livermore delivered the news that they had achieved fusion ignition, and we knew that was just the beginning,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said. “The companies and DOE scientists will build on advances from the National Labs with the entrepreneurial spirit of the private sector to advance our understanding of fusion.”

Q2 2022 Investment #2: Ultra Safe Nuclear

Nucleation Capital has made an equity commitment in Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation

[The following is a pre-close announcement summary.]

We are pleased to pre-announce the second of our two investments for Q2-2022. We are making an investment in the Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, one of the leading developers of 4th generation micro-reactors and fuels. 
Ultra Safe Nuclear is developing an advanced nuclear fission reactor that will have superior safety features. This impressive team was founded on the core belief that for nuclear adoption to increase, nuclear safety must be paramount and so has made the safety case of its reactors its central organizing principal.

USNC has designed an advanced energy system that delivers 15 MW of high-termperature (high-quality) heat or 5 MW of electricity and integrates a deep layering of innovative safety elements which effectively reduce meltdown risk for this design to almost zero. Most notably, the USNC design improves on:

  • Inherent safety with accident and proliferation-deterrent micro-encapsulated fuel packaged in a heat-resistant ceramic form. This design can withstand temperatures far greater than the operational temperature of the reactor, without melting down and prevent the possibility of mischief with spent fuel.
  • Intrinsic safety through a micro-modular design that separates the heat production from direct power generation and provides power automatically, without needing operators or continuous onsite maintenance.
  • Physical safety by routine installation of the nuclear portion within a reinforced subterranean canister that provides an extra layer of protection and separation from events on the surface, whether this may be weather-related, freak accident or intentional sabotage event.
  • Passive safety, through a design that utlizes a molten salt storage heat buffer system between the reactor and power generation, enabling a decoupling of the reactor heat and usage, an automatic shutdown capability and natural, convection-based cooling underground in the event of any loss of power.
Thus, any possible malfunction would never rise to the level of an accident. Their design, already protected with more than 20 patents, are not vulnerable to loss of coolant (as with Three Mile Island), loss of power (Fukushima) or runaway criticality (Chernobyl). Additionally, there is no metal cladding to be melted and create hydrogen explosion risk and the ceramic casing of the spent fuel will outlast the internal radioactivity of the transuranics and protect the environment.
Ultra Safe is furthest along in the development of its specialty fuel and its micro modular reactor, called the Micro Modular Reactor (MMR). However, the company has multiple divisions, which include several transportable nuclear power platforms, a family of chargeable atomic batteries utilizing radioisotopes and a nuclear thermal propulsion group, working on space engines. It has even earned $5 million in revenue from work done in other divisions for the government.
Notable Achievements 
Ultra Safe’s 4th gen reactor design, called the Micro Modular Reactor, is in an advanced stage of liencing, having already completed Phase I and II of the Canadian nuclear regulator’s (CNSC) vendor design review process. This system will deliver power on-demand with near 100% avaiability, which makes it well-suited to systems that contain wind or solar generators as well. Offered as a fully charged “nuclear battery,” these systems will store 2.6 billion kilowatt hours of heat available at power levels ranging between 5 and 45 MW(th) and convertible into 1 billion kilowatt hours of electric power, as needed. Additionally, multiple units can be deployed together. The company has initiated CNSC’s Phase III, with an application for plant construction at the Chalk River site.
Ultra Safe was selected to be the technology partner for Global First Power, a joint venture set up by Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Ontario’s largest utility and a leader in Canadian nuclear power. They are partnering to build the Chalk River demonstration plant, which may be the first 4th gen build project in Canada and which is on target to begin producing power in 2026.
Ultra Safe is also pursuing licensing in the U.S. and is working in partnership with the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, USNC’s first US customer, on pre-application licensing activity with the US NRC, which is seeking approval to build the MMR at the university for research, power and district heating purposes. Lastly, the first multiple-unit MMR is being planned for demonstration at the Idaho National Lab (INL). In all USNC expects to have 5 MMRs operational at three sites by 2027.
USNC has also recently finished construction of and commenced operation at its new fuel fabrication facility on the site of the national lab in Oak Ridge, TN and is starting production of its proprietary fuel. This facility will test produce a small number of full-scale modules of USNC’s TRISO-based FCM, its fully ceramic micro-encapsulated fuel for which it has approval for use in demonstration, testing and qualification. (See: this Nuclear Newswire announcement.)
With an advanced reactor that is neither too small nor too large, USNC has targeted one of the largest customer niches for energy purchasers, with a power design that hits the sweet spot in size and output temperatures for a very wide array of heat consumers, which includes nearly any industrial company, district heating users (such as college campuses), research reactors and military bases. As such, in addition to three demonstration sites already in process, the company has an active sales pipeline of dozens of distinct customers and potentially hundreds of reactors with an estimated market value in the $100s of billions.
USNC has maintained tight proprietary and quality control over every element of its reactor table construction and design, from its fuel fabrication on up to pre-formed cement blocks used in construction. They pair that in-house control with an open design platform for power generation, which ground-level portion of the power plant can be constructed to suit the specific energy requirements of the customer and which can use commercially available high-quality generators, turbines and auxillary production areas, such as those used in gas plants, so as to keep balance of plant costs as low as possible.
USNC’s expertise, rapid progress, broad vision and partnerships make it a very notable player among those nuclear development ventures moving from “paper” to “plant.” It has also developed a highly strategic business model which is primed to help accelerate deployments with an easy-to-finance structure, while it builds a sequence of factories for rapid manufacturing of reactor components in quantity for both its terrestrial and space applications. 
USNC has demonstrated not just superior design capability but an entirely impressive ability to execute against its vision in a cost-effective and efficient way. The company’s execution in building its fuel facility in well under a year portends future success in its plans to launch factory production as soon as possible, following completion of its first demonstration project with OPG. Having followed their progress for a while now, we have built a very high level of confidence that this is an extraordinarily well-run team with its finger on the pulse of the market, a clear view of its target customers’ needs and a discernable lead in the delivery of low-cost manufactured modular, flexible and supremely safe clean power systems.

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) celebrated the opening of its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on August 18, 2022. In attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Kathryn Huff, Tennessee’s Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, as well as representatives for Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty.  What impressed everyone was how quickly the facility, which existing industrial building was only purchased by USNC in 2021, was outfitted with the appropriate systems, services and equipment such that it is ready to commence radiological operations in less than a year.

The PFM facility is now ready to test its systems and start preparations for making production-scale modules of USNC’s proprietary TRISO-coated fuel particles embeded into specially-designed 3D-printed silicon carbide shells and coated with high-temperature-resistant ceramic coating.  These initial fuel pellets will be ready for testing and qualification for use in USNC’s 15-MWt high-temperature, gas-cooled, graphite-moderated microreactor, called the Micro Modular Reactor (MMR).

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) signed a deal with Hyundai Engineering for the procurement of its next-generation micro-modular reactor (MMR) in Ontario, Canada. 

Hyundai Engineering began partnering with Ultra Safe originally back in 2012, with the goal of developing Ultra Safe’s high-temperature gas-cooled micro-modular reactor. Then earlier this year, the two parties signed an engineering, procurement and construction agreement, worth $30 million. Soon after, they signed a technical cooperation agreement.

The most recent agreement, the parties have signed a framework agreement through which Hyundai Engineering will provide power generation facilities, cooling systems and radioactive equipment for the Chalk River Laboratories site.

Hong Hyeon-Sung, CEO of Hyundai Engineering (right) and Francesco Venneri, CEO of Ultra Safe Nuclear on Aug. 26 (Courtesy of Hyundai Engineering)

Ultra Safe Nuclear (@UltraSafeNuke) tweeted information about EmberCore, a radioisotope decay energy source being designed to power the Interceptor, which NASA hopes will be able to catch up with fast-moving objects in space.  Click here see Ultra Safe’s tweet and rotating image of the Interceptor.


Ultra Safe Nuclear has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) to explore the deployment of a Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR) in Lappeenranta. LUTplans to deploy an MMR as a research and test reactor at or near its campus in the city of Lappeenranta in southern Finland. The reactor will be operated as a training, research and demonstration facility. It will be connected to the district heating network of Lappeenrannan Energia, the local municipal utility, to provide carbon-free district heating to the university, city and surrounding area.

Ultra Safe Nuclear has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Canadian investment firm, Portland Holdings. While still being negotiated, under the terms of the MOU agreement, Portland, its affiliates, and related entities will invest up to USD350 million in USNC, aiming to bring MMR technology solutions to the Middle East, North Africa and the Caribbean regions.

Q2 2022 Investment #1: Synergetic

Syngergetic Logo Transp
Nucleation Capital has closed on an equity investment in SYNERGETIC Clean Energy Technologies Ltd.

[The following is a pre-announcement summary.]

We are pleased to report that we have secured an investment in Synergetic’s Class B bridge round.

Synergetic brings unparallelled expertise to enable the transition of difficult-to-decarbonize industries, regions and companies to clean fuels. The problem with decarbonization is the unpredictable lag time between now and when full electrification can be achieved. In the meantime, we still need to stop burning as much as 100 million barrels per day, yet few are willing to stop driving, flying, boating, etc. Synergetic’s mission is to generate transitional net-zero fuels that are suitable for airlines, ships, trucks, buses on down, so that people can continue to move as usual, even while emission go to zero. 

Synergetics helps its customers replace the liquid hydrocarbons that are refined from petroleum—gasoline, aviation fuel, marine shipping fuel, diesel and others (all of which emit carbon dioxide)—with carbon-neutral or carbon-negative synthetic fuels that are chemically identical to the petroleum-based fuels, but synthesized from clean feedstocks and processed with clean processes and carbon-free energy.

Synergetic’s founders have been reviewing, assessing, building and evaluating integrated clean energy systems for more than a decade and are recognized leaders in the clean energy transition. To help customers achieve scale on an expedited basis, they have designed a number of synthetic fuel production systems that use clean, low-cost energy to output carbon-neutral fuels, typically with virtually no land footprint, and with component and construction partnerships ready to go. These fuels will power the global transport system with net-zero emissions and Synergetic brings the expertise and partnerships that will expedite the transition.

(More information will be available soon.)

Synergetic’s Founders bring deep analytical and operations consulting expertise to those confronting the need to decarbonize urgently. They have published extensively on what it will take to meet global decarbonization goals. See their foundational reports here, including the highly influential Missing Link to a Livable Climate: How Hydrogen-Enabled Synthetic Fuels Can Help Deliver the Paris Goals, and the EPRI-sponsored report, Rethinking Deployment Scenarios for Advanced Reactors: Scalable Nuclear Energy for Zero-Carbon Synthetic Fuels and Products.

SYNERGETIC Clean Energy applauds two recent events bolstering the expansion of nuclear power.

[The following were part of press releases issued by the Synergetic team.]

7/6/22:  We welcome the new International Energy Agency (IEA) report, Nuclear Power and Secure Energy Transitions: From Today’s Challenges to Tomorrow’s Clean Energy Systems, (published June 30, 2022), which concludes that nuclear power can play a significant role in helping countries solve the twin crises of energy and climate.

7/21/22:  “We are encouraged by the EU parliament’s recognition of nuclear as a necessary solution to achieving Net Zero emissions by 2050. This will enable investment in the lowest cost decarbonisation – which is long term operation of existing nuclear plants – as well as grow investment in new advanced nuclear technologies, which have the potential to dramatically accelerate decarbonisation across power, heat, industry and transport, while protecting our planet, and growing human prosperity.” Kirsty Gogan, Synergetic Co-Founder

Q1 2022 Investment: Deep Isolation

Deep Isolation Wins $3.6 Million DOE Grant to Develop Universal Nuclear Waste Disposal Canister for Advanced Reactor Spent Fuel

[The following is reprinted from Deep Isolation’s site.]

Deep Isolation, in partnership with the University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and NAC International, has been awarded a $3.6 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop a universal nuclear waste disposal canister for advanced reactor waste streams.

The project, one of two awarded today to Deep Isolation by the ARPA-E Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems program, will support the development of low-carbon advanced reactor power plants by establishing a universal canister design and waste form acceptance.

Deep Isolation Joins Oklo Inc., National Laboratories in Winning $4 Million DOE Grant for Spent Fuel Waste Reduction Project

Deep Isolation, Oklo Inc., and the Argonne and Idaho national laboratories have been jointly awarded $4 million by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop the first nuclear fuel recycling and disposal facility in the United States.

The project, one of two awarded to Deep Isolation today by the ARPA-E Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program, will commercialize a fuel recycling facility that will include, for the non-recyclable waste, the development of a final waste solution compatible with a deep borehole repository. It’s the first focused program working to identify pathways to reduce waste material and minimize the need for disposal sites, and it’s the first federally funded program to explore pairing a commercial borehole solution with a recycling facility for an advanced reactor.

Deep Isolation will be analyzing the waste streams that would be generated by the electrorefining facility to identify waste forms suitable for a deep borehole repository. It will also establish the technical and cost savings framework for using deep borehole repositories as a complement to electrorefining.

Nucleation Capital has closed on an equity investment in DEEP ISOLATION

[The following is a draft of a pre-announcement to LPs.]

We are pleased to report that we have secured an investment in Deep Isolation’s Series B bridge round.
Deep Isolation is addressing one of the long-standing issues to the use of nuclear power: “What do you do with the waste?” They are the first and only private company commercializing a cost-effective solution to such waste. Their proprietary approach leverages standard directional drilling practices, supplemented with their own robust intellectual property, to safely and affordably isolate waste deep underground in specially-designed canisters, carefully emplaced in stable, geologic borehole repositories.
Deep Isolation’s solves the problem of an expensive, temporary and deeply unsatisfactory above-ground treatment for waste by offering a competing solution that is inexpensive, deep underground (as temporary or permanent storage) and highly satisfactory. Their solution could potentially reduce the projected global cost of permanent waste storage, estimated at well over $600 billion, down to a fraction of that, while vastly improving both public satisfaction and long-term safety. 
Deep Isolation has an exceptionally impressive team and serves as an enabling venture that, in solving the waste issue in a proven and safe way, could help reduce obstacles for the expansion of nuclear around the world. 
Nucleation Capital is the first venture fund to invest in Deep Isolation, which has successfully raised seed and Series A capital previously from strategic partners and a few well positioned private investors. We are also working with DI to bring on additional investors and LPs prior to the close. Accordingly, we have agreed to syndicate an allocation in the round, thereby helping to introduce them to a broader array of climate investors, both large and small.
Both the fund’s investment and the syndicate deal will close together (likely by the end of this month), so this deal will not be visible on your investor dashboard page for Q1 yet.

For more information about DEEP ISOLATION, please see their website at

Nucleation Capital Floats SPV Giving its Pronuclear Investment Network access to equity in Deep Isolation
Some of the challenge for ventures working in the advanced nuclear sector involves raising capital. But, in addition to capital, many ventures are keen to begin building a broader base of awareness about themselves and their business from investors, who may be investing mostly in the public markets. Having a broad, national base of investor interest can aid a venture like Deep Isolation as it grows and begins to develop a higher profile in the marketplace. It turns out, there are plenty of pronuclear-minded investors, they are just not used to seeing any investment offerings. Thus, in addition to investing in ventures itself, Nucleation Capital works to provide its portfolio ventures with access to its growing investor network to present itself and its vision to a broader range of investors interested in advanced nuclear and keen to learn about quality deals.

Anyone interested in learning about Nucleation’s syndicated offerings can sign up to receive the Nucleation Insights newsletter. Those interested in participating in Nucleation’s syndicates must be accredited but then they are able to join the Nucleation Syndicate at AngelList and get invited to participate in Nucleation’s syndicated offerings, such as Deep Isolation.

Elizabeth Muller and Richard Muller, co-founders and CEO and CSO of Deep Isolation, participated in the 2022 Asian Leadership Conference in Seoul in a panel on Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Wastes. The panel was moderated by Hwang Il Soon, Chair Professor at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), who has been leading a Korea national R&D program on microreactors for zero-emission vessels in support of global climate protection. Also participating was Seong Ik Oh, Director for overseas construction at Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Development. 

Deep Isolation selected for portion of $4.9 million ARPA-E grant

Deep Isolation announced that it is part of a team that has been selected to receive $4.9 million in funding as part of the U.S. Department of Energy ARPA-E CURIE program to develop and demonstrate oxide reduction (OR) technology for pyrochemical recycling of light water reactor used nuclear fuel (UNF).

The team, led by Argonne National Laboratory, also includes advanced reactor developer Oklo Inc., and Case Western Reserve University. CURIE, short for Converting UNF Radioisotopes Into Energy, funds innovations in reprocessing technologies that aim to extract and recycle valuable actinides from used nuclear fuel that can then be used to power the next generation of nuclear reactors.

Deep Isolation will develop an integrated waste disposal plan using its cost-effective deep borehole repository technology for oxide reduction waste, while simultaneously determining ideal waste acceptance parameters through economic modeling to achieve program target metrics for reduced disposal costs as there will still be some volume of waste at the end of the OR process.

The project also includes a study to optimize the procurement of spent nuclear fuel for recycling into an advanced reactor.

— — — — —

[Read more at: Deep Isolation to design waste disposal plan for Argonne National Lab’s $4.9M CURIE grant to develop spent nuclear fuel recycling processes, November, 2, 2022]

Deep Isolation was selected to take part in its fourth DOE grant for 2022. This is a CURIE project and Deep Isolation will be participating in a $2.8 million project led by EPRI along with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Southern Company Research and Development, to conduct a joint research and development project on nuclear fuel management options to help power advanced nuclear energy systems. These could play an important role in meeting national decarbonization goals.

— — — — —

[Read more at: EPRI Receives DOE Award to Research Uranium Recovery Options for the Next Generation of Reactors, November 17, 2022]

Q4 2021 Investment: Radiant Nuclear

Radiant logo LG
Nucleation Capital has closed on an equity investment in RADIANT NUCLEAR

[The following was approved by Radiant for private release to our LPs.]

We are pleased to report that Nucleation Capital completed a Series A investment in Radiant Nuclear with Q4 funds. Union Square Ventures served as the lead investor and the deal included Energy Impact Partners, Cantos VC, Decisive Point, among others. Radiant received more investor interest than they needed for their round, which is unusual for a nuclear venture. Despite being oversubscribed, we believe Radiant accepted funds from Nucleation Capital because of the clear added benefit of having a fund with a clear nuclear focus, nuclear expertise and a robust nuclear network involved.
Radiant Nuclear is an advanced nuclear venture that defies much of the convention around nuclear. The company’s founders are not nuclear engineers. Rather they are experienced hardware, software and systems engineers who spent about a decade at SpaceX. The team was instrumental in developing, building, testing and deploying specialized hardware and software systems. Most impressive of their many achievements there was the design and construction of the terrestrial landing gear, control sensors and software systems for controlled reverse landing of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets back onto a landing pad after launching. 
Following that spectacular achievement, the team lead was tasked with solving a remote refueling problem for a rocket that might be landed on Mars with payload capacity to bring refueling supplies. After evaluating the challenge using pretty much every angle and possible option, it became abundantly apparent that the only solution was a small, mobile nuclear reactor. After studying the range of options, the concept for a remote mobile system that could be autonously operated emerged. When SpaceX declined to pursue the project, the founder left SpaceX to do a broadbased assessment. He eventually launched Radiant to pursue the market, recruited his team and brought on nuclear engineers to join them.
There is merit to supporting this approach as there are a multiplicity of challenges to designing, testing and deploying advanced nuclear systems and the precise nuclear core may not be the most complex portion. Some reactor developers are fond of saying that nuclear energy is not “rocket science.” There is well-understood physics, chemistry and mechanics involved but new designs require very careful modeling and testing and economic deployment is key challenge. As with space exploration, there is little room for error and much at stake. Thus, investing in a founding team that has been around the block developing mission-critical, high-pressure, high-expense projects that require utter precision and true design decisiveness was irresistible. 

[Note: We are very pleased to have been able to participate in this funding round. Radiant and its venture lead were enthusiastic about including Nucleation Capital, despite an abundance interest from traditional VCs, largely because of Nucleation Capital’s unique focus on the Advanced Nuclear sector and the advantages we can provide based upon our deeper understanding of the technology, the industry and our connections within the industry.]

For more information about RADIANT NUCLEAR, please see their website at


On March 9, Fred Wilson of USV posted news of the investment by USV’s Climate fund in Radiant Nuclear, which round included Nucleation Capital.

Fred writes: 

USV’s Climate Thesis is to invest in companies and projects that provide mitigation for or adaptation to the climate crisis. One important way that we can both mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis is to use more nuclear energy. I wrote about this on my AVC blog last year and have been committed to finding one or more nuclear startups to invest in and work with since then.

I am excited to be able to say that I have found the first one and that company is Radiant.

Radiant designs and builds portable, low-cost one-megawatt nuclear fission microreactors that fit in a shipping container, power about 1,000 homes and use TRISO fuels and a helium coolant instead of water. This is what a Radiant microreactor will look like:

That system, which fits inside a shipping container, will power a remote community, commercial facility, military base, etc for upwards of five years before needing to be refueled. And that power will be sustained, clean, and cost-effective.

Radiant’s portable microreactor, Kaleidos, is being developed at a fast pace, using modern software engineering. To learn how, check out this video: Radiant’s Kaleidos.

I have always been interested in networks of small-scale systems versus large centralized solutions. I grew up in the information technology business and have lived through the transition from mainframes, on which I did my first programming as a teenager, to minicomputers, to PCs, to PC networks, to the Internet. I believe that a massive network of small systems is more cost-effective, more reliable, more accessible, and better in every way than large centralized systems and my instinct is that this will be true in energy as well.

When we met Doug Bernauer and his co-founders, we found a team that has the right background, mindset, and commitment to pull something like this off. USV’s Climate Fund recently led a $10mm round that will take Radiant through a number of important milestones and get them closer to putting a system like this in the field.

Radiant is a small team of world-class engineers from a collection of key disciplines and they are looking to add a few more of them. They are particularly interested in the best engineers in the areas of Nuclear Core Design, Materials, Multiphysics Modeling, and Licensing. If you are one of those people, please go here and let them know you would like to join the Radiant team.

It will be a few more years before a system like the one shown above will go live somewhere, but when it does, it will be a new era in the age of nuclear energy and I can’t wait for that to happen.

Radiant Extends Investment Round to include DCVC — March 28, 2022

Radiant extended its Series A round to bring in Data Collective Venture Capital (DCVC) and added Dr. Rachel Slaybaugh to its board. Adding DCVC brings in another great investment firm that strengthens Radiant’s investment backing considerably and paves the way for future growth.  

Dr. Slaybaugh joined DCVC earlier this year after serving as a UC Berkeley Nuclear Engineering professor, director of ARPA-e, founder of Berkeley’s Nuclear Bootcamp, and director of Cyclotron Road. Dr. Slaybaugh will provide a wealth of technical knowhow, connections and guidance to Radiant. 

Radiant is excited to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) for TRISO UCO fuel fabrication — Proposals due by November 30, 2022

Radiant posted the following notice on its website.

Radiant’s Kaleidos microreactor is powered by TRISO-coated UCO fuel. TRISO ensures each Kaleidos reactor will be meltdown-proof and able to reach higher burnup than traditional nuclear fuels. TRISO fuel has been called “the most robust nuclear fuel on Earth” by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. The structural layers in each poppy seed-sized TRi-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) layered particle act as physical barriers to block the escape of fission products produced as the reactor operates. The uranium oxycarbide (UCO) fuel kernel reduces pressure on the TRISO layers by limiting CO and CO2 production throughout reactor operation.

Radiant is excited to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) for TRISO UCO fuel fabrication. The Kaleidos fuel specification Radiant seeks to fabricate utilizes UCO kernel and TRISO layer geometry consistent with TRISO specifications already qualified. For more information, the RFP document may be reviewed HERE.

Proposal submissions should be sent to by 11/30/2022.

Radiant aims to be a driver of commercial microreactor development and seeks to provide economical, reliable, zero-emissions solutions to the climate crisis everyone faces today. By procuring fuel for a demonstration unit meant to operate in 2026, Radiant and a selected fabricator will take a large step to making this a reality. 

Radiant launches a blog and shares its founder’s initial reasoning in “Why I Started Radiant”

To know Doug Bernauer, founder and CEO of Radiant, is to be awfully impressed with his ability to execute on designing and engineering complex hardware and software systems. In “Why I started Radiant,” Doug shares some of his experience and thinking around how clear the benefits of nuclear are to humanity—whether deployed to save our earthly habitat or to create a livable habitat on Mars. 

Radiant’s Kaleidos microreactor is powered by TRISO-coated UCO fuel. TRISO ensures each Kaleidos reactor will be meltdown-proof and able to reach higher burnup than traditional nuclear fuels. TRISO fuel has been called “the most robust nuclear fuel on Earth” by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. The structural layers in each poppy seed-sized TRi-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) layered particle act as physical barriers to block the escape of fission products produced as the reactor operates. The uranium oxycarbide (UCO) fuel kernel reduces pressure on the TRISO layers by limiting CO and CO2 production throughout reactor operation.

Radiant is excited to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP) for TRISO UCO fuel fabrication. The Kaleidos fuel specification Radiant seeks to fabricate utilizes UCO kernel and TRISO layer geometry consistent with TRISO specifications already qualified. For more information, the RFP document may be reviewed HERE.

Proposal submissions should be sent to by 11/30/2022.

Radiant aims to be a driver of commercial microreactor development and seeks to provide economical, reliable, zero-emissions solutions to the climate crisis everyone faces today. By procuring fuel for a demonstration unit meant to operate in 2026, Radiant and a selected fabricator will take a large step to making this a reality. 

Q3 2021 Investment: Core Power

Nucleation Capital has closed on an equity investment in CORE POWER

[The following is text approved by CORE Power for public release. Release was approved a few weeks later.]

CORE POWER is a UK-based development company, specializing in advanced scalable nuclear power technology for ocean transport and heavy industry. In partnership with leading international corporations, CORE POWER aims to deliver durable zero-emission energy for floating industrial production and deep-sea shipping.

CORE POWER is a member of the TerraPower, Southern Co., Orano consortium that applied for a United States Government’s Department of Energy (DoE) Risk Reduction grant and was successfully awarded $140 million by the DOE for work on a Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).

TerraPower is a privately held advanced nuclear venture founded by Bill Gates; Southern Company and Orano are highly experienced nuclear technology development and supply partners for the MCFR.

CORE POWER’s area of expertise is to develop the market for a maritime MCFR in applications ranging from clean production zero-carbon fuels to nuclear propulsion of large ships.

The consortium is working under a Joint Collaboration Agreement (JCA) where CORE POWER holds exclusive rights to maritime applications.

CORE POWER is targeting advanced nuclear propulsion for the largest 7,500 ships, responsible for 50% of global CO2 emissions from shipping, as well as designing production systems for the manufacture and production of green hydrogen based zero-carbon fuels on offshore production platforms.

Further applications of a maritime MCFR includes barge-mounted mobile power plants, rapid response water desalination tankers, deep-sea mining vessels, rapid plastics recycling, and reformation as well as floating production and industrial processing of minerals and soft commodities.

CORE POWER has deep ties within the ocean transportation industry with many of the company’s shareholders representing familiar names in that market. The current shareholder base either owns or operates more than 2,000 large ships which are in line to install the technology, once ready and licensed for maritime use.

The Company recently completed a second round of funding (Series B-1). Aside from Nucleation Capital, there were no other VC firms in this deal. Instead, most of the $15.4 million raised came from owners and managers of some of the largest shipping companies in the world.

CORE POWER’s Founder, Chairman and CEO has 30 years of experience working in the shipping industry, at a senior level, in technology, finance, transport and commodities.  These relationships are a major strategic asset and CORE POWER anticipates earning interim revenue from these prospective customers by working to help them prepare their fleets for conversion to the MCFR.

CORE POWER’s equity is leveraged 4-to-1 by the private capital provided by their consortium partners, TerraPower, Southern and Orano. This total capital is further leveraged 4-to-1 by the $140 million non-dilutive 80/20 cost-share grant from the U.S. DOE, which we believe aids the consortium’s and CORE POWER’s prospects for success considerably.

[Note: We are very pleased to have been able to participate in this funding round. The absence of other VCs only emphasizes just how unique Nucleation Capital is and how potentially instrumental we can be in bridging the funding gap in this sector.]

For more information about CORE POWER, please see their website at

TerraPower Consortium Signs Risk Reduction Agreement with the DOE
On November 18, Southern Company and Idaho National Laboratory announced the signing of a $170 million cost share agreement entered into with the U.S. Department of Energy to build the proof of concept Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment. These tandem announcements make reference to the fact that applications in ocean transportation and other marine uses are the purview of CORE POWER. Southern Co.’s Press Release The Idaho National Lab Press release Learn more about CORE POWER here. Follow CORE POWER on Twitter. Follow CORE POWER on LinkedIn.
Update from CORE POWER

CORE completed our B-1 funding round last month. This Series B-1 covers CORE’s share of the ‘Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment’ development currently underway at Idaho National Laboratory (INL) with our consortium partners TerraPower, Southern Co. and Orano.

MCRE will be the world’s first fast-spectrum salt-fuelled nuclear fission reactor, and is a vital precursor to the eventual commercialisation of the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) that can be deployed in such a game-changing fashion for future maritime and floating energy applications.

To support that program and to engage with U.S. regulators and stakeholders CORE opened a U.S office in Washington, D.C. in early November. They will build a presence in Washington to grow this part of the business throughout 2022 and beyond.

As the COP 26 spotlight fell on Scotland, both shipping and advanced nuclear energy were central on the agenda at the recent COP26 in Glasgow.

U.S. Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry, at the unveiling of the net-zero by 2050 declaration of several countries (led by the U.S., Denmark, and Marshall Islands), pointed out that the U.S. Navy has an impeccable track record of nuclear propulsion over 67 years—never lost a crew member, never had a spill. . .

COP26 also saw the birth of the ‘Clydebank Declaration’, a formation of ‘green’ corridors to assist infrastructure development for synthetic fuels, and also a First Movers Coalition to accelerate technology advancements in hard-to-abate-sectors such as shipping. The MSR can play a central role in all these initiatives to produce cheap, green zero-carbon fuels on floating refineries at key junction points under this agreement.

Talk of nuclear being ‘excluded’ from the talks proved to be far from the case. French economy and finance minister Bruno Le Maire summarised it well when he said that ‘Nuclear energy is not a question of ideology, but a question of maths‘.

As countries continue to grasp that the need for carbon-free, dispatchable baseload power is going to be fundamental in meeting climate goals, several nations announced land-based SMR (small modular reactor) projects, often replacing coal-fired power on their grids in projects that could be seen as ‘low hanging fruit’ in the climate transition.

The decision by TerraPower to site their new Natrium reactor (which also features a molten salt energy storage system) at a retiring coal plant in Kemmerer in Wyoming by 2027, was further evidence of this.

Investors in Japan are paying attention too. A CORE POWER press briefing on the MSR in early October, led to an exciting panel discussion of the MSR at Bari-Ship 2021 and profiled as a viable solution for decarbonization of large ships.

Update from CORE POWER: UK adopts ‘Nuclear Code’ for merchant ships

The UK’s Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed that they will transpose SOLAS Chapter VIII into UK Law in the autumn of 2022. This is a milestone in the regulatory pathway for ships powered by advanced nuclear.

This Annex of SOLAS includes the ‘Nuclear Code’ (Resolution A.491.Xii) for merchant ships which was adopted at the IMO in 1981. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency, on behalf of the DfT, undertook a consultation on the proposed legislation during the second half of 2021.

The UKMCA has now published their summary of responses received and simultaneously confirmed their “intention to progress making the Regulations as planned…[and]…does not intend to significantly amend the prepared draft legislation“.

The ‘Nuclear Code’ is now over 40 years old, and needs overhaul and updating, but what is important is that the government has acknowledged that an overwhelming majority “agreed that there is an appetite for nuclear ships over the next 10 years with growing interest for nuclear propulsion for large ocean-going vessels.”

Implementing the SOLAS Chapter VIII requirements and building strong ties with others, including the US, will increase the likelihood of UK flagged nuclear powered ships and reinforce the broader maritime safety regime.”

To learn more, see Core Power’s Merchant Shipping (Nuclear Ships) Regs to become UK law in 2022.

CORE POWER launched a Client Program where the maritime and nuclear industries will meet to design the clean energy solutions needed to decarbonize shipping.

Corporate members of the program participate in discussions shaping national and international regulations; discover and adapt new floating power solutions; and engage with industry experts to solve unique new energy challenges. Those joining will enjoy:

  • Monthly releases of unique analyst briefings and research on new energy technologies and solutions. 
  • Monthly technical, regulatory, and modelling update meetings. 
  • 3x annual in-person industry gatherings in Europe, Asia, and the Americas.
  • Regulatory task force participation.
  • Technical working group participation.
  • Commercial, economic and finance working group participation.
  • Engagement with industry experts.
  • Access to new unique design and engineering services to create specific solutions for your organisation.

Core Power will hold two webinars on 13th July 2022 to introduce the program and provide interested parties and chance to learn more. There will be a morning session for Europe and Asia time zones and an afternoon session for Europe and American time zones.

The UK Maritime Coastguard Agency consulted with members of the UK maritime sector during 2021, including Core Power, and concluded that there is an appetite for nuclear ships over the next 10 years with growing interest for nuclear propulsion for large ocean-going vessels. Now, the UK Department for Transport (DfT), via the UK Maritime Coastguard Agency, has set a target date of November 22nd, for passing the Merchant Shipping (Nuclear Ships) Regulations into law. In anticipation, Core Power will be hosting a symposium on Sept. 19, 2022 on the use of nuclear in maritime in London. Topics covered during the full day event will include:

  • New nuclear vessels and floating power designs discovery – how do they work and why?
  • How do we keep new nuclear safe and secure at sea? What are the rules?
  • How are new class rules formed for floating nuclear power and nuclear electric propulsion?
  • How are nuclear materials transported so safely? What can we learn from the safety culture and security by design of nuclear transport?
  • How does maritime interests influence the work of the IAEA? What’s being done and how?
  • A fundamental analysis of the key criteria for new nuclear in maritime, including the Emergency Planning Zone and the impact on liability. How does it work and why?
  • How are offshore installations superior to land-based plants in speed, cost, flexibility and resilience? How do we combine maritime with new nuclear power to reduce fossil fuel dependence?

To view the full program and to sign up to attend, please go to the Core Power website.

The DOE’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) has granted research funding to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Core Power, to undertake a two year study into the development of offshore floating nuclear power generation in the United States, Core Power reported.

The NEUP financing will enable a thorough, cooperative investigation into the operational, safety, security, and legal elements of floating advanced nuclear power generation and take a close look at every step of developing, running, maintaining, and decommissioning these specialist facilities.  The grant will enable Core Power to work with the MIT Energy team, to develop a ground-breaking plan to bring advanced nuclear to the maritime market.  The study will proceed concurrently with the proof-of-concept prototype molten salt reactor being built at the Idaho Nation Laboratory.

New research conducted at the Dutch technical university TU Delft for C-Job Naval Architects is the latest to conclude nuclear energy could be applied as marine propulsion in the future. According to the independent ship design company, nuclear technology has seen several interesting developments and should be considered for future maritime applications.

The research identified large ocean-going vessels as having the most potential for nuclear propulsion. By creating four different concepts (bulk, container, tanker, and offshore), key items were analyzed, including the mass and volume of the energy storage and power generation system. It shows that, even though the shield around the reactor is a significant portion of the respective mass and volume of the nuclear power generation system, in most cases, the nuclear option is lighter and more compact than the conventional marine diesel option.

One of the key attractions driving the new interest in nuclear propulsion for commercial shipping is the solution for eliminating carbon emissions. Compared to conventional fuel-based systems, the research highlights that there can be up to a 98 percent reduction in CO2 emissions. Furthermore, the air pollution emissions, such as SOx, PM, and NOx, are eliminated.

While nuclear marine propulsion has a high capital expenditure, the research shows it to be cost-effective within five to fifteen years depending on fuel cost and the vessel’s operational profile. Furthermore, nuclear marine propulsion offers the potential to consider higher design speeds, making the ship more profitable. This is because fuel cost (OPEX) only grows marginally with higher speeds where ultimately the main limiting factor would be the CAPEX of the installation with more power.

Based on the research, C-Job, like others exploring the field, is drawn to the benefits of the Molten Salt Reactor. They concluded that it has the most potential in the long term for commercial shipping. The combination of passive safety, high burn-up, and the future potential to use the thorium cycle make it the best fit for maritime application said C-Job.

[Read more at: The Maritime Executive, Research: Large Commercial Ships Have Most Potential for Nuclear Power, Aug. 30, 2022.]

The Breakthrough Institute reported that TerraPower, Bill Gates’ nuclear company, and Southern Company have built a test rig to do preparatory work for TerraPower’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR). Called the Integrated Effects Test, the system, which is non-nuclear and heated with electricity, will be used to test the accuracy of computer models of thermal hydraulics, or how fluid and heat move through the system. The Integrated Effects Test is the largest chloride salt system in the world developed by the nuclear sector and will be instrumental in helping to develop the project team’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor technology.

The MCFR is the reactor that Core Power holds the license for deploying for use in marine environments and this test system is an important step in the design. In the working reactor, the molten chloride would be the coolant, the material that carries off heat so it can be converted to a form that can do useful work, and also the fuel, as it would have dissolved in it materials that can be fissioned.  “Fast” means that neutrons that are released are not “moderated,” or slowed down, by the coolant or other materials. This enables those high-energy neutrons to convert and consume more nuclear materials as fuel.

[Read more at: The DOE’s website, Southern Company Services and TerraPower Build World’s Largest Chloride Salt System, Oct. 18, 2022.]