Rolls-Royce picks Westinghouse for SMR fuel design

October 17, 2023, 3:11PMNuclear News
An aerial shot of the Westinghouse Springfields site, located near Preston, Lancashire, in northwestern England. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse has signed a contract with Rolls-Royce SMR to develop a fuel design for the British firm’s small modular reactor program, the companies announced last week.

The design work, to be undertaken in the United Kingdom and the United States, will include associated core components and will be based on an existing Westinghouse pressurized water reactor fuel assembly design.

According to Rolls-Royce, the contract supports the recent Atlantic Declaration—the bilateral agreement announced in June at a joint press conference in Washington, D.C., with President Biden and U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Among its provisions, the Atlantic Declaration calls for the launch of a civil nuclear partnership, to be overseen by both U.S. and U.K. senior government officials. In addition, the U.S.-U.K. Joint Action Group on Energy Security and Affordability, established last December, is to be mobilized “to set near-term priorities for joint action to encourage the establishment of new infrastructure and end-to-end fuel cycle capabilities by 2030 in both continents, and substantially minimize reliance on Russian fuel, supplies, and services.”

Signers’ language: “Placing the contract to design the fuel for the Rolls-Royce SMR is an important step in our program of work as we progress through the GDA [generic design assessment] process with the U.K.’s nuclear regulators,” noted Helena Perry, Rolls-Royce SMR’s regulatory affairs and safety director. “Westinghouse has a strong heritage and unrivaled experience in nuclear fuel design and manufacturing. Placing this contract with Westinghouse will help deliver our commitment to maximize U.K. supply chain content and will support a long-term sustainable future for the nuclear industry.”

Westinghouse president of nuclear fuel Tarik Choho said the collaboration “will help drive the future of nuclear fuel deployment” and termed the new contract “an exciting opportunity for our Springfields site in Lancashire.”

In case you missed it: In late July, Westinghouse announced it had received three U.K. government grants to upgrade and expand its Springfields Fuel Fabrication Facility to support Britain’s next-generation nuclear reactors. The Springfields site is the only location in the United Kingdom for nuclear fuel manufacturing, supplying all 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.

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