Pilot fuel facility in Oak Ridge to begin operations this summer

March 7, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Ultra Safe Nuclear staff in front of the new pilot fuel fabrication facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Photo: USNC)

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), an advanced reactor and reactor fuel developer, announced last week that it plans to begin operations this summer at its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., pending the receipt of the requisite state and local permits. The facility is located in the East Tennessee Technology Park, site of the Manhattan Project’s K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. USNC purchased an 8.7-acre site—which included a preexisting industrial building—from Heritage Center LLC in 2021.

PFM details: USNC plans to commission and operate the production-scale modules involved in the manufacture of TRISO-coated fuel particles and its proprietary Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM) fuel. According to the company, the PFM facility will process feedstock uranium powder into TRISO fuel particles and subsequently produce FCM fuel in multiple-kilogram quantities. USNC said that the facility will codify and demonstrate its manufacturing modules, enabling the company’s advanced fuel factory licensing and scalable deployment of its fuel-production capability. The individual manufacturing modules will be deployed at new production facilities to meet the demand for fueling USNC’s Micro Modular Reactor and other advanced terrestrial and space energy systems.

What they’re saying: “Proximity to ORNL and Y-12, as well as access to East Tennessee’s highly skilled and motivated nuclear workforce, was a key consideration in our site selection,” said Kurt Terrani, executive vice president of USNC’s Core Division. “The excellent support we received from the Tennessee Department of Community and Economic Development, as well as the Tennessee Valley Authority, made the decision to site our PFM facility in Oak Ridge that much easier.”

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee applauded the decision, saying, “As a national leader in clean, reliable nuclear energy, Tennessee plays a significant role in powering America and fueling our economy. Our highly skilled workforce, strong business climate, and local advantages make Oak Ridge the premier location for Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation.”

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