Westinghouse fuel plant okayed for four more decades of operation

September 13, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News
An aerial view of Westinghouse’s Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility in Hopkins, S.C. (Photo: Westinghouse)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday announced that it has issued a renewed license for Westinghouse Electric Company’s Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility (CFFF), authorizing operations at the plant for another 40 years—through September 12, 2062.

Located in Hopkins, S.C., the CFFF manufactures fuel rods for use in commercial nuclear reactors. According to Westinghouse, 10 percent of the nation’s electricity comes from the fuel manufactured at the facility.

Westinghouse, ENUSA partner on fuel fabrication

September 12, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

ENUSA’s president and CEO Mariano Moreno (left) and Westinghouse’s nuclear fuel president Tarik Choho shake hands on their latest partnership. (Photo: Westinghouse)

Westinghouse Electric Company and Madrid-based ENUSA intend to collaborate on VVER-440 fuel fabrication, the American firm announced last week at the World Nuclear Association’s World Nuclear Symposium.

The partnership, Westinghouse stated in a September 8 release, “will build on decades of performance delivering a Western alternative to Russian fuel in the European market.” There are currently 16 nuclear power reactors in Europe operating with VVER-440 fuel, and utilities in the region are actively looking for alternatives to Russian-supplied fuel for those units, according to the release.

Signers’ language: “We have a mutual interest in partnering in VVER-440 fuel manufacturing and potentially other related areas,” said Tarik Choho, Westinghouse’s president of nuclear fuel. “With our proven track record supplying for VVER reactors, we stand ready to support even greater energy security for our customers and European countries. We look forward to strengthening our partnership with ENUSA and leveraging their valuable experience in this field.”

White House would send the DOE $1.5 billion to set up reliable LEU/HALEU supply

September 8, 2022, 3:06PMNuclear News
HALEU in the form of 1.5–3 kg reguli ready for fuel fabrication. (Photo: INL)

Those who welcomed the $700 million earmarked for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) supply in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA) in August have cause to celebrate again. The White House sent a supplemental appropriation request to Congress on September 2 that would provide more than double the IRA funds if passed—$1.5 billion—for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy to build a reliable supply of both low-enriched uranium for existing U.S. nuclear power plants and HALEU for the advanced reactors that will be built within the decade.

Bipartisan bill to prioritize HALEU debuts in House

August 23, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News



Reps. Elaine Luria (D., Va.) and Byron Donalds (R., Fla.) have introduced in the House of Representatives the Fueling Our Nuclear Future Act (H.R. 8723), a measure to accelerate the availability of commercially produced high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel and boost domestic energy production in the United States.

Unveiled last week following a Senate version introduced in April by Sen. John Barrasso, the legislation directs the secretary of energy to prioritize and establish a program that ensures a domestic supply of HALEU for advanced nuclear reactors. Currently, the nation lacks the domestic enrichment capability to produce HALEU. The bill explicitly excludes uranium sourced or processed by any entity owned or controlled by the governments of Russia and China.

Ultra Safe Nuclear opens pilot-scale TRISO fuel facility in Oak Ridge

August 22, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Terrani, Huff, and Fleischmann had the honor of cutting the ribbon to celebrate the opening of the Pilot Fuel Manufacturing facility. (Photo: USNC)

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) celebrated the opening of its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., on August 18 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tour attended by assistant secretary for nuclear energy Kathryn Huff, Tennessee lieutenant governor Randy McNally, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R.), representatives from the offices of Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R.) and Bill Hagerty (R.), and other distinguished guests. The next day, radiological operations began at the privately funded facility, which was designed and built in less than twelve months within an existing industrial building purchased by USNC in 2021.

Small and Advanced Reactors with Diverse Fuel Cycles Can Deliver Energy Security

July 29, 2022, 7:08AMNuclear News

Nuclear energy offers a pairing of high capacity factors and low carbon emissions unrivaled by other power sources, and advanced reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs) hold promise to deliver that power with even more efficiency and versatility. Researchers in the public and private sectors, backed by government funding through programs like the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program and Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E), are bringing that promise closer to fulfillment by engineering solutions to open questions about advanced reactor materials and fuel cycles.

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.

GLE eyes earlier enrichment, inks agreements with two largest U.S. utilities

July 11, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) signed separate, nonbinding letters of intent in June with the two largest nuclear power operators in the United States—Constellation and Duke Energy—to assess potential nuclear fuel supply chain cooperation, including support for GLE’s deployment of laser enrichment technology in the United States. According to GLE president and chief commercial officer James Dobchuk, who delivered a presentation on June 7 at the World Nuclear Fuel Market Annual Meeting, the company’s baseline deployment schedule could be accelerated by about three years (under favorable market conditions) to supply the nuclear fuel market with uranium in a range of enrichment levels in 2027.

Fast reactor technology getting renewed attention

June 7, 2022, 12:04PMANS Nuclear Cafe

Fast reactor technology, which can run on used nuclear fuel to generate energy, could fulfill U.S. energy needs for 100 years using existing waste, according to Jess Gehin, associate lab director at Idaho National Laboratory and an ANS member in a recent interview with CNBC. Gehin and other nuclear experts believe that this technology could provide substantial energy for the country, help resolve the debate over storing spent nuclear waste, and address the issue of climate change with more carbon-free energy generation. However, the commercial development of fast reactor technology has been hampered by political and economic roadblocks, which researchers are now seeking to overcome.

Australia’s Honeymoon mine to resume production

June 7, 2022, 7:56AMNuclear News
The Honeymoon uranium project in South Australia. (Photo: Boss Energy)

The board of Boss Energy Limited has made a “final investment decision” to develop the Honeymoon in situ uranium project in Australia, the Perth-based company announced last week. Boss said it will now accelerate engineering, procurement, and construction to ensure that Honeymoon—located in South Australia, near the border with New South Wales—remains on track for first production by December 2023, ramping up to a steady-state rate of 2.45 million pounds of U3O8 per year.

Westinghouse to supply all fuel for Ukraine fleet, plus more AP1000 units

June 6, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News
A group shot of Energoatom and Westinghouse personnel at the Khmelnytskyi nuclear power plant in Ukraine, where the first two AP1000 reactors under a recent agreement will be constructed. (Photo: Westinghouse)

The war in Ukraine notwithstanding, Westinghouse Electric Company has stepped up its partnership with Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear utility, signing agreements last week to supply all of the nuclear fuel for the country’s operating reactor fleet and to collaborate on the construction of nine AP1000 units for Ukraine, rather than the five earlier envisioned.

Granholm: DOE developing “full-on uranium strategy”

May 10, 2022, 3:00PMNuclear News

The Department of Energy is putting together a national uranium supply strategy, energy secretary Jennifer Granholm told lawmakers last week at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

Granholm was appearing before the committee to discuss the Biden administration’s fiscal year 2023 budget proposal for the DOE.

TRISO-X applies for advanced reactor fuel facility license

April 11, 2022, 12:01PMNuclear News
Pictured from left to right: John Tappert, NRC; Jonathan Rowley, NRC; Jacob Zimmerman, NRC; Matthew Bartlett, NRC; Tim Beville, DOE; Jennifer Wheeler, TRISO-X; John Lubinski, NRC; Pete Pappano, TRISO-X; Jill Caverly, NRC; and Shana Helton, NRC. (Photo: X-energy)

TRISO-X submitted a license application for a high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel fabrication facility to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on April 6, the day after parent company X-energy announced that TRISO-X had secured a 110-acre site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for the construction of the facility, which it is aiming to have operating in 2025.

Barrasso introduces bill to prioritize HALEU supply chain and demo reactor needs

April 8, 2022, 9:20AMNuclear News
Ingots of HALEU derived from pyroprocessing of EBR-II driver fuel at Idaho National Laboratory. (Photo: INL)

On April 7, U.S. Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced the Fueling Our Nuclear Future Act of 2022. The bill would ensure a domestic supply of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) for advanced nuclear reactors by directing the Department of Energy to prioritize establishing a domestic HALEU enrichment capability and to use enriched uranium held by the DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration to fuel advanced reactor demonstrations until U.S. commercial enrichment is available. The bill explicitly excludes uranium sourced or processed by any entity owned or controlled by the governments of Russia and China.

TRISO-X aims to have commercial fuel plant operating in 2025

April 5, 2022, 9:49PMNuclear News
Artist's rendering of the proposed TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility (TF3) at the Horizon Center Industrial Park, in Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Image: X-energy)

X-energy has announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, TRISO-X, plans to build the TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility, dubbed TF3, at the Horizon Center Industrial Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn. X-energy has produced kilogram quantities of fuel at its pilot plant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory through a public-private partnership.

The commercial plant will use high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to produce TRISO particles, which are fabricated into fuel forms, including the spherical graphite “pebbles” needed to fuel the company’s Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactor. Site preparation and construction are expected to get underway in 2022, and commissioning and start-up are scheduled for as early as 2025, according to X-energy.

Bill to ban Russian uranium imports debuts

March 21, 2022, 3:01PMNuclear News


In the latest effort by the federal government to sanction Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.) last week introduced legislation to prohibit the importation of Russian uranium to the United States.

The Biden administration banned imports of Russian oil, liquefied natural gas, and coal, via executive order on March 8.

Barrasso’s bill, S. 3856, was introduced on March 16, with three of his fellow GOP lawmakers as cosponsors: Sens. Kevin Cramer (R., N.D.), Cynthia Lummis (R., Wyo.), and Roger Marshall (R., Kan.).

“The time is now to permanently remove all Russian energy from the American marketplace,” said Barrasso, ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee. “We know Vladimir Putin uses this money to help fund his brutal and unprovoked war in Ukraine. While banning imports of Russian oil, gas, and coal is an important step, it cannot be the last. Banning Russian uranium imports will further defund Russia’s war machine, help revive American uranium production, and increase our national security.”

ANS webinar looked at building domestic HALEU production capacity

March 16, 2022, 12:00PMANS News

The United States must ramp up the domestic production of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), the panelists agreed during a March 11 members-only webinar held amid heightened concerns about energy security following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the day after Congress approved $45 million for the HALEU Availability Program for fiscal year 2022.

John Starkey, ANS director of public policy, moderated the webinar, which featured panelists Scott Kopple, senior director of government relations at BWX Technologies; Everett Redmond, senior technical advisor at the Nuclear Energy Institute; Benjamin Reinke, senior director of corporate strategy and advisor to the CEO at X-energy; Patrick White, project manager at the Nuclear Innovation Alliance (NIA); and Brad Williams, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee staff.

A recording of the webinar is available to ANS members.

ANS presents members-only event on HALEU and nuclear energy’s future

March 8, 2022, 12:00PMANS News

ANS is hosting an expert panel for the members-only virtual event, “High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium: Fueling Nuclear Energy’s Future,” on Friday, March 11, from 10 to 11 a.m. (EST).

Register now for the event. Can't attend live? Register to receive a link to the recording.

Pilot fuel facility in Oak Ridge to begin operations this summer

March 7, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
Ultra Safe Nuclear staff in front of the new pilot fuel fabrication facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Photo: USNC)

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), an advanced reactor and reactor fuel developer, announced last week that it plans to begin operations this summer at its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., pending the receipt of the requisite state and local permits. The facility is located in the East Tennessee Technology Park, site of the Manhattan Project’s K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. USNC purchased an 8.7-acre site—which included a preexisting industrial building—from Heritage Center LLC in 2021.