Westinghouse to invest $131 million in S.C. fuel fabrication facility

December 20, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

Westinghouse Electric Company plans to expand operations at its Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF), located in Hopkins, S.C., with an investment of $131 million over the next five years. The project, announced on December 15 by South Carolina governor Henry McMaster’s office, includes upgrades to equipment and procedures, as well as enhancements to the CFFF’s pollution prevention systems and controls. The investment will expand automation and digitalization at the facility, improving inspection capabilities and product quality, according to the governor's office. Westinghouse expects to complete the project by January 2026.

How would you design a HALEU Consortium? The DOE wants to know

December 17, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
(Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy asks no fewer than 21 multipart questions in its request for information on plans to set up a new program to ensure the availability of high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) in the United States, encompassing the who, what, when, where, and how of HALEU enrichment, deconversion, fabrication, and transportation. Interested parties were given just 30 days from the December 14 announcement to send their input to the DOE; the deadline is January 13.

Details: Written comments and information are requested on or before January 13. They can be submitted online at regulations.gov or by email to rfi-haleu@hq.doe.gov in a Microsoft Word or a PDF file. See the full request for information published in the Federal Register for additional information.

Nuclear fuel considerations in the development of advanced reactors

December 8, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear NewsGary Mignogna


The world faces an urgent need to decarbonize and expand clean energy systems. Earlier this year, the United States announced goals to achieve a 100 percent clean electricity grid by 2035 and net-zero emissions across the entire economy by 2050. Today, nuclear energy plants provide more than 50 percent of the United States’ carbon-free energy. Existing plants, along with the advanced technologies currently being developed and demonstrated, are crucial to the United States’ and the world’s clean energy future.

Technologies such as advanced non-light water reactors, which have higher operating temperatures than today’s light water reactors, will be vital to meeting economy-wide decarbonization goals. For example, process heat applications and chemical and synthetic fuel production require higher temperatures and currently rely on fossil fuels. Advanced reactors are the only carbon-free technologies that can provide the high temperatures these processes need.

Oklo signs on as future customer for Centrus-produced HALEU

November 18, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s conception of Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse. (Image: Gensler)

Oklo plans to fuel its demonstration microreactor with high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU). To secure a source of HALEU for its nth-of-a-kind microreactor, Oklo has signed a nonbinding letter of intent with Centrus Energy to cooperate on the deployment of a HALEU production facility.

X-energy has work ahead in quest to build TRISO-X fuel facility, Xe-100 reactor

November 10, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
The TRISO-X fuel pebble shown here contains TRISO particles—HALEU-bearing kernels of oxide and carbide in alternating layers of pyrolytic carbon and silicon carbide. (Image: X-energy)

X-energy and Centrus Energy announced last week that they have completed the preliminary design of the TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility and have signed a contract for the next phase of work. The planned facility would produce TRISO fuel particles and pack those particles into fuel forms, including the spherical graphite “pebbles” needed to fuel X-energy’s Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor.

First complete accident tolerant fuel assembly in operation at Calvert Cliffs

November 9, 2021, 3:32PMNuclear News
Framatome’s PROtect accident tolerant fuel assembly undergoes final inspection before delivery to Exelon’s Calvert Cliffs-2 in Lusby, Md.

The nuclear industry’s first 100 percent accident tolerant fuel assembly is in operation at Exelon Generation’s Calvert Cliffs plant, the Department of Energy announced yesterday. The advanced fuel will operate in the reactor for the next four to six years and will be routinely inspected to monitor its performance, the DOE said.

Located in Lusby, Md., Calvert Cliffs houses two pressurized water reactors. Unit 1 is rated at 907 Mwe, and Unit 2 at 881 Mwe.

Germany: Coal tops wind energy in 2021, but there’s more to the story

September 23, 2021, 7:02AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Coal-fired plants fed the most power to Germany's electricity grid in the first half of 2021, while wind power dropped to its lowest level since 2018. As a September 13 article published on the German news site DW.com explained, the situation was blamed in part on a wind energy shortfall that is causing power price spikes across Europe.

Hot U market and simmering interest in HALEU: It boils down to demand

September 22, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
(Click photo to enlarge) One of 16 AC100M gas centrifuges built by Centrus Energy for HALEU production in Piketon, Ohio. (Photo: Centrus Energy)

For years, pressure has been building for a commercial path to a stable supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU)—deemed essential for the deployment of advanced power reactors—but advanced reactor developers and enrichment companies are still watching and waiting. In contrast, the uranium spot price soared after Sprott Physical Uranium Trust, a Canadian investment fund formed in July, began buying up U3O8 supplies, causing the price to increase over 60 percent, topping $50 per pound for the first time since 2012. Fueled by growing acknowledgment that nuclear power is a necessary part of a clean energy future, uranium is the focus of attention from Wall Street to Capitol Hill.

ANS urges Congress to address availability of HALEU for advanced reactor fuel

September 16, 2021, 9:30AMANS News
Click image to enlarge

Congress needs to take swift action to build a domestic supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to fuel advanced reactors, the American Nuclear Society declares in a September 14 letter to Sens. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), the committee’s ranking member.


September 15, 2021, 3:42PMUpdated September 15, 2021, 3:43PMPress Releases

The United States Congress needs to take swift action to build a domestic supply of fuel for advanced reactors and to avoid future dependence on Russia for advanced nuclear fuel, the American Nuclear Society wrote in a Sept. 14 letter to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

DOE seeking comments on domestic uranium reserve program

August 13, 2021, 6:14AMNuclear News
[Image: U.S. DOE]

The Department of Energy has issued a request for information (RFI), inviting public comment on topics related to the establishment of its Uranium Reserve Program to support U.S. fuel cycle capabilities. Notice of the RFI was published in the August 11 Federal Register, with a deadline of September 10 for submitting comments.

ORNL to test accident tolerant fuel irradiated at Byron-2

August 4, 2021, 3:02PMNuclear News
Irradiated lead test rods are delivered to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for examination. (Photo: ORNL)

Several lead test rods of Westinghouse’s EnCore accident tolerant fuel recently arrived at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for post-irradiation examination over the next year in support of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensing process. The rods were installed in 2019 in Exelon’s Byron-2, a 1,158-MWe pressurized water reactor, and were removed in fall 2020 and prepared for shipment to ORNL.

License extension for fuel site receives preliminary approval from NRC

August 3, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News

In a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) published last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission made a “preliminary recommendation” for approval of Westinghouse Electric Company’s application to renew for 40 years the operating license of its Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF), located in Hopkins, S.C.

Oklo awarded $2 million to commercialize advanced fuel recycling

June 29, 2021, 6:59AMNuclear News
An artist's rendition of Oklo’s Aurora powerhouse. (Image: Gensler)

California-based Oklo has received a $2 million cost-share award from the Department of Energy for the commercialization of advanced fuel recycling capabilities by using electrorefining technology. Oklo is matching $1 million in funds and is partnering with the DOE and Argonne National Laboratory on this public-private partnership, which is intended to help reduce fuel costs for advanced reactor designs while reducing waste by turning used fuel into advanced reactor fuel.

Centrus approved for HALEU production

June 21, 2021, 7:01AMNuclear News
Centrus’s American Centrifuge Plant, in Piketon, Ohio. Photo: Centrus Energy

Centrus Energy Corporation has announced that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved the company’s license amendment request to produce high-assay low-enriched uranium at its Piketon, Ohio, enrichment facility. The Piketon plant is now the only U.S. facility licensed to enrich uranium up to 20 percent uranium-235, and it is expected to begin demonstrating HALEU production early next year, according to Centrus.

A first: TRISO fuel made in Canada

April 22, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News
Fully ceramic microencapsulated fuel. Image: USNC

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) announced last week that it has fabricated fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel pellets, a proprietary reactor fuel designed by Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) for its Micro Modular Reactor (MMR). The FCM project, funded through the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), represents the first time that tristructural isotropic (TRISO) fuel has been manufactured in Canada, according to CNL.

Niger’s Akouta uranium mine ceases operations

April 5, 2021, 7:00AMNuclear News
Miners depart Niger’s Akouta uranium mine for the last time after production ended for good. Photo: Cominak

The Akouta mine in Niger stopped production on March 31 after 43 years of service and 75,000 metric tons of uranium extracted. Akouta, the largest underground uranium mine in the world, was operated by Cominak, a subsidiary of Orano. The shutdown was decided by Cominak’s board of directors on October 23, 2019, in response to the depletion of the mine’s deposit.