Westinghouse scores trio of grants from U.K. fuel fund

July 28, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
An aerial view of Westinghouse’s Springfields Fuel Fabrication Facility, near Preston, Lancashire, in northwestern England. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Through its now one-year-old Nuclear Fuel Fund, the U.K. government has awarded Westinghouse three grants to upgrade and expand the Springfields Fuel Fabrication Facility to support Britain’s next-generation nuclear reactors, the American-based company announced yesterday.

Located near Preston, Lancashire, in northwestern England, Westinghouse’s Springfields site is the only location in the United Kingdom for nuclear fuel manufacturing, supplying all of the fuel for its advanced gas-cooled reactor fleet. Springfields fuel is also responsible for about 32 percent of Britain’s low-carbon electricity generation.

According to Westinghouse, the three grants, totaling £10.5 million (about $13.4 million), will go toward developing more variants of light water reactor fuels—including fuel for Westinghouse’s AP1000 and AP300 reactors—and supporting the potential production of high-assay low-enriched uranium–based advanced fuels for the United Kingdom’s new Generation III and IV fission reactors. Westinghouse will additionally partner with Canadian-based Terrestrial Energy and Britain’s National Nuclear Laboratory to pilot a supply of enriched uranium tetrafluoride and molten salt fuel for use in Terrestrial’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor.

Official words: “This investment from the Nuclear Fuel Fund is a vote of confidence in the capabilities of our Springfields manufacturing site,” said Westinghouse president of nuclear fuel Tarik Choho. “We are excited for the future of nuclear energy in the U.K. and the role Westinghouse will continue to play in its success.”

U.K. minister for nuclear Andrew Bowie said that “nuclear power is at the heart of our plan to deliver cleaner, more secure home-grown energy to the U.K., boosting our energy security, and will provide highly skilled jobs to grow our economy.” The grants, he said, “will support [Springfields’] development of new fuel technologies essential to the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors, as well as supporting highly skilled jobs in Preston and across the northwest.”

In case you missed it: Last week, in addition to launching Great British Nuclear—an “arms-length” governmental body established to help ramp up the nation’s nuclear capacity to as much as 24 gigawatts by 2050—the U.K. government announced it was awarding £22.3 million (about $28.5 million) from the Nuclear Fuel Fund to eight projects. The Springfields funding is part of that total.

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