Energy Northwest, Curio partner on recycling used fuel

July 19, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News
Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station, in Richland, Wash. (Photo: Energy Northwest)

Energy Northwest, owner and operator of Columbia Generating Station in Richland, Wash., recently signed a memorandum of understanding with nuclear technology firm Curio Solutions regarding Curio’s NuCycle nuclear waste recycling process.

Columbia is the Northwest’s only operating nuclear power plant, consisting of one 1,207-MWe boiling water reactor. There are currently 54 concrete and steel casks on site, holding the spent fuel produced by the reactor since it began commercial operation in 1984.

The MOU is part of Curio’s plan to deploy the nation’s first “state-of-the-art commercial nuclear fuel recycling facility,” according to the company. The proposed facility would provide a variety of in-demand commodities and products, including domestically produced low-enriched uranium fuel for the current U.S. fleet of nuclear reactors, as well as high-assay low-enriched uranium and the company’s transuranic-based TRUfuel for advanced reactors under development.

C-suite excitement: “Energy Northwest is excited to partner with Curio and explore the promising potential to recycle used low-enriched uranium fuel, which would represent a game-changing development for the future of the commercial nuclear energy industry,” said Bob Schuetz, the power company’s chief executive officer. “Leveraging used fuel as a resource has numerous benefits, from reducing U.S. reliance on foreign fuel and increasing U.S. energy security and independence to demonstrating the nuclear industry’s long-term commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. The development of Curio’s NuCycle recycling process would be an invaluable tool as we embark on a promising new phase for carbon-free nuclear energy, and Energy Northwest is proud to be a partner in this important undertaking.”

Curio’s CEO, Edward McGinnis, noted that only about 4 percent of the energy value of the U.S. commercial light water fleet’s used fuel has been utilized. “It’s time to tap this enormous stockpile of unused energy and repurpose it into non-carbon-emitting fuel that will help power our future clean electricity generation needs,” he said. “Curio’s partnership with such an important nuclear utility leader as Energy Northwest represents an important step in realizing the full potential of our NuCycle technology.”

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