Microreactor work at ORNL fueled by BWXT
BWX Technologies announced on March 11 that its BWXT Nuclear Operations Group (BWXT NOG) subsidiary had been awarded a contract from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory to manufacture TRISO nuclear fuel to support the continued development of the Transformational Challenge Reactor (TCR). Plans to restart a TRISO production line at the company’s Lynchburg, Va., manufacturing site will be finalized to allow for production to be completed by the fall of 2020.
The TCR is an additively manufactured microreactor designed at ORNL as one solution to the high costs and lengthy deployment timelines of larger and more conventional reactors. BWXT is providing manufacturing support to the program as well as TRISO fuel. See page 34 for a feature article about the TCR.
The scope of the contract includes the fabrication and delivery of uranium kernels, TRISO coated surrogate materials, and TRISO coated uranium kernels for use during the development and prototyping of the reactor’s design and advanced manufacturing process.
“This contract award is strategically significant given our stated intention to find new markets for our advanced nuclear technologies,” said BWXT NOG President Joel Duling. “We are exceedingly pleased with this award and look forward to working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Department of Energy to demonstrate safe and clean nuclear power generation with a novel, low-cost, additively manufactured nuclear reactor.”
According to BWXT, the company’s plans to increase TRISO production capacity mean it could fuel multiple microreactors similar to the prototype TCR in the future.