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Jay Jiang Yu and NANO Nuclear Energy Offer Solutions to Clean Energy Needs

After a year of shrinking in 2020, global energy consumption continued with its growth trend in 2021. According to Our World in Data, the world used more than 176,000 terawatt hours of energy that year, which is the equivalent of the energy found in more than 15,000 million tons of oil. And, while we didn’t get all that energy from crude oil, oil remained the most significant energy source globally, followed by coal and gas.

In the face of climate change, even the staunchest skeptics are having a hard time denying it, we seem to have a hard time giving up on fossil fuels. In 2021, we used it for 77% of our energy needs. Some blamed lobbies, as oil, gas, and coal are powerful industries. Others said we need more infrastructure and cost-efficient sources of clean energy.

For Jay Jiang Yu, blame isn’t the focus — it’s finding solutions for the problems. And, it starts with examining our misconceptions and limiting beliefs.

“When they hear the term ‘nuclear,’ the average person thinks about the huge nuclear reactors, mushroom clouds, and toxic waste,” says Jay Jiang Yu. “But, when I started digging into it and looking at the numbers, it turns out that nuclear energy is the safest form of energy.”

Jay Jiang Yu is a New York-based business investor and entrepreneur. The son of Chinese immigrants, he holds a psychology degree, with work experience including a stint at Wall Street and a successful pre-IPO investor career. Neither “nuclear scientist” nor “engineer” can be found on his CV.

“I just put companies together from scratch and scale them from zero,” he explains. “And, these are just ideas that people have, and they occasionally turn into something big. But, I have the experience to know exactly how to move efficiently and build a good group of people.”

After hearing Blackrock’s Larry Fink say that the next thousand unicorn companies won’t be social media or search engines, but green companies that offer solutions to burning climate change problems, Jay Jiang Yu felt inspired. So, he decided to enter the green energy space where he found the most innovation needed — nuclear energy production.

“SMR stands for Small Modular Reactors, the new smaller reactors producing less electricity. So, you get megawatts instead of powerplant’s gigawatts,” he says. “When I looked into them, they were still very big, cost a lot of money, and took very long to develop.”

NANO Nuclear Energy was created to address all of these issues and introduce innovation into small modular reactors, already an innovative concept in nuclear energy production. Jay Jiang Yu envisioned a vertically integrated DeepTech company where his business acumen was combined with the knowledge and experience of leading engineers and nuclear scientists.

“I call it the Ocean’s Eleven of nuclear, this gathering of top scientists and national lab leaders I’ve recruited to work on NANO Nuclear Energy,” says Jay Jiang Yu. “It started with James Walker, the CEO, who decided to take this leap of faith with me.”

In their research, James Walker and Jay Jiang Yu found that no one yet had a prototype of an even smaller version of the small modular reactors. And, that’s how NANO Nuclear Energy got its mission: to create a nuclear battery, a smaller energy source that’s also easily transportable.

The possible applications for such technology are endless. In disasters, portable micro nuclear reactors can be deployed to reestablish power supply to hundreds of homes and essential services. Micronuclear reactors could also find use in powering remote communities. A micro-nuclear solution might provide more power with a lower carbon footprint wherever a fuel generator is used today.

The geopolitical aspect of energy and fuel supply doesn’t escape Jay Jiang Yu. “Russia’s invasion in Ukraine causes a massive global energy crisis,” he says. “And, the crisis spilled even into Asia, where Japan is activating its nuclear production. They understand that the energy crisis is real, and they won’t have enough energy, especially clean energy, in the future.”

So far, NANO Nuclear Energy has developed two concepts for their reactors, using different technologies and for different use cases. The more compact of the two is called Zeus. It’s a solid-core battery reactor developed by a team led by James Walker and Dr. Peter Hosemann. It could produce up to two or three megawatts of power.

Zeus’ bigger sibling is named after another god, Odin. It’s a low-pressure coolant reactor developed by a team led by Dr. Ian Farnan and Dr. Eugene Shwageraus. Its production could go up to ten megawatts.

NANO Nuclear Energy’s two reactors still have some ways to go before they enter production. Nuclear energy is heavily regulated, and licensing and safety are critical components of the regulations.

Still, Jay Jiang Yu knows that the world can’t wait too long for clean and safe energy sources. With the likelihood of extreme climate events rising, the need for solutions offered by NANO Nuclear will only increase. “There is a timeline to it, and it can be a lengthy process,” he says. “But, if we start things early on, we can expedite them. And that’s what we’re planning to do.”

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