Framatome and Ultra Safe Nuclear announced on January 26 that they intend to form a joint venture to manufacture commercial quantities of tristructural isotropic (TRISO) particles and Ultra Safe’s proprietary fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel.
The companies have signed a nonbinding agreement to integrate their resources to bring commercially viable, fourth-generation nuclear fuel to market for Ultra Safe’s micro-modular reactor (MMR) and other advanced reactor designs.
Production start: The companies expect to begin manufacturing TRISO particles and FCM fuel in late 2025. TRISO fuel production capacity will be used in the manufacture of FCM fuel. The companies have developed plans to support rapid expansion to meet demand growth domestically and in global markets.
The collaboration follows the opening of Ultra Safe’s Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) facility last August, the first and only privately funded facility in the United States to manufacture TRISO particles. Of note, the facility’s engineers use 3D printing to fabricate FCM fuel. The modular production lines for TRISO particles and FCM fuel, already demonstrated at scale at the PFM facility, are repeated to increase capacity.
The micro-modular reactor: The MMR is being licensed in Canada and the United States and will be a commercially available "nuclear battery.” MMR deployments are moving forward, according to Ultra Safe, including projects at Chalk River in Canada, which is on target for first power in 2026, and at the University of Illinois–Urbana-Champaign, targeted for first power the following year.
They said it: “Ultra Safe Nuclear is a pioneer in the manufacture of both TRISO-based nuclear fuels and microreactors, both of which contribute to a clear and attainable path toward a low-carbon future,” said Ala Alzaben, senior vice president for North America Fuel at Framatome.
Added Francesco Venneri, chief executive officer of Ultra Safe, “Framatome is an important strategic partner in our quest, and this move is a crucial step towards our vision of socially and environmentally responsible zero-carbon nuclear power.”