The idea of nuclear-in-a-box sounds like a joke, but investors and potential customers are taking Hyperion Power Generation very seriously — the company is valued at a whopping $100 million by investors, according to the Denver Post. The company is backed by Altira Group, and though Hyperion hasn’t disclosed how much financing it has raised to date, CEO John “Grizz” Deal told us he is looking to raise a Series B round of funding, with plans to raise a Series C in about two years.
Although nuclear power produces radioactive waste, it doesn’t release greenhouse gases and it has vocal supporters in the new administration, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu. So it’s not so far-fetched for investors to see the potential of Hyperion’s nuclear option.
But the valuation is really high for a risky, unproven technology that is a good five years from putting the first device in the ground. While the technology itself was developed at government lab Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the biggest hurdle could be regulatory. A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission told the Post that the certification and approval process of the device itself will take “several years.” When Hyperion pitched a group of investors last October at a conference, by far the most questions were about how the devices would “pass regulatory hurdles.” And the question of finding a regulated, appropriate location to store the waste could be another stumbling block.
Despite the hurdles, Hyperion has some lofty goals for its nuclear-in-a-box modules. It’s aiming to build several factories around the world to produce a first batch of 4,000 units. The transportable nuclear modules, each with a price tag of about $25 million, are expected to pump out 70 megawatts of heat and 25 MW of electricity via a steam turbine, targeting off-the-grid applications and developing countries where there isn’t a dependable electric grid.
The company signed up its first customer last August, Romania’s TES Group, which signed a letter of intent to buy six nuclear modules. And Hyperion said if TES likes what it sees, it could be in the market for another 50 of the tiny nuclear generators.