TRISO-X applies for advanced reactor fuel facility license

April 11, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Pictured from left to right: John Tappert, NRC; Jonathan Rowley, NRC; Jacob Zimmerman, NRC; Matthew Bartlett, NRC; Tim Beville, DOE; Jennifer Wheeler, TRISO-X; John Lubinski, NRC; Pete Pappano, TRISO-X; Jill Caverly, NRC; and Shana Helton, NRC. (Photo: X-energy)

TRISO-X submitted a license application for a high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel fabrication facility to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 6, the day after parent company X-energy announced that TRISO-X had secured a 110-acre site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for the construction of the facility, which it is aiming to have operating in 2025.

Scope of work: It took about three years and $20 million to develop the license application, according to X-energy. During the NRC’s review, which is expected to take from 24 to 36 months, TRISO-X will proceed with site preparation and construction work. The NRC’s review and TRISO-X’s interactions with the NRC during the review are being carried out under an award from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP).

The TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility (TF3) would be the nation’s first 10 CFR Part 70 Category II fuel facility built to provide HALEU enriched up to 20 percent uranium-235 for advanced reactors, including X-energy’s Xe-100 design, which was selected by the ARDP for a full-scale commercial demonstration. Initially, the TF3 will produce 8 metric tons of fuel per year, which, according to X-energy, is enough to support about 16 TRISO-fueled advanced reactors of different designs or 12 Xe-100 reactors.

Prior engagement: Documentation, inspections, and meetings in support of the TRISO-X fuel facility preceded the formal application. X-energy submitted a topical report, “TRISO-X Pebble Fuel Qualification Methodology, Revision 2,” to the NRC in September 2021. In October 2021, the NRC confirmed that the submission had passed a completeness review and that the NRC staff expected to issue a draft safety evaluation report by July 22, 2022. A previous version of the topical report was submitted in April and discussed in a June meeting between X-energy and the NRC.

Celebrating a milestone: “Our team has been working on this application for over three years, putting our all into this process to ensure we meet each and every requirement associated with operating a HALEU and tristructural isotropic (TRISO) based fuel facility, from receipt of incoming uranium to processing and shipping of final product fuel elements,” said Pete Pappano, president of TRISO-X.

“Today is the pinnacle moment in my several-decades-long career in the nuclear industry,” said Jennifer Wheeler, director of regulatory affairs at TRISO-X. “I’m honored to have led the team that will make history with this first-of-a-kind submission to the NRC, and I look forward to working with the commission toward realization of the first-of-a-kind facility dedicated to manufacturing HALEU fuel products.”

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