Framatome receives NRC approval for transport of LEU+ fuel assemblies

February 23, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
NRC-approved Framatome shipping container. (Photo: Framatome)

Framatome announced on February 22 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a license amendment that would allow Framatome’s shipping containers to transport, in the United States, fresh nuclear fuel assemblies containing uranium enriched up to 8 percent uranium-235.

Light water reactor fuel with higher enrichments and burnup capabilities than currently used under low-enriched uranium regulation could improve electricity generation and fuel utilization, possibly improving plant economics and providing more flexible reactor performance through extended operating cycles and more efficient core configurations.

Regulatory engagement: Framatome also announced in June 2021 that the NRC had accepted for review a topical report to apply Framatome’s suite of Advanced Codes and Methods to operating conditions with U-235 enrichments above the 5 percent limit for LEU.

High-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) is defined as uranium enriched to between 5 and 19.75 percent U-235. Uranium enriched to between 5 and 10 percent U-235, at the lower end of the HALEU range, has been less formally dubbed “LEU+.”

He said it: Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice president in Framatome’s Fuel Business Unit, praised the regulatory decision, stating, “The NRC approval is essential as we develop fuel products that will systematically enhance safety, reliability, and plant economics for the nuclear industry.”

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