Artist’s rendering of the proposed TRISO-X World Headquarters and Commercial Fuel Facility at the Horizon Center Industrial Park in Oak Ridge, Tenn. (Image: X-energy)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted an application from X-energy's fuel subsidiary, TRISO-X LLC, for a proposed TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility (TF3) in Oak Ridge, Tenn., X-energy announced last week. A 30-month review schedule has been developed by the NRC that would be completed by June 2025, assuming TRISO-X provides sufficient responses to expected requests for additional information (RAIs) within 30 to 60 days of their issuance. On December 16, the NRC announced that it would seek public input on the scope of its environmental review and environmental impact statement for the application and published a notice in the Federal Register.
These gas centrifuges operated in the Piketon facility from 2013 to 2016 as part of a 120-machine low-enriched uranium demonstration cascade. (Photo: Centrus Energy)
Centrus Energy confirmed on December 1 that its wholly owned subsidiary American Centrifuge Operating signed a contract with the Department of Energy, which was first announced on November 10, to complete and operate a demo-scale high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) gaseous centrifuge cascade.
The TRIGA Mark II nuclear research reactor. (Photo: University of Texas)
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has conducted a special inspection at the University of Texas’s TRIGA Mark II nuclear research reactor in Austin to evaluate the use of improper fuel. The inspection was ordered following a notification from the University of Texas—Austin to the NRC that the research reactor had been operating for several months with two fuel elements that were not licensed for the reactor.
Coles Hill property location. (Image: Consolidated Uranium)
Consolidated Uranium plans to acquire Virginia Energy Resources, which owns Virginia Uranium and the Coles Hill Uranium Project, an undeveloped uranium deposit that sits under about 3,000 acres of land in south central Virginia. The state’s General Assembly has maintained a moratorium on uranium mining since 1982 that was upheld in the courts as recently as 2020, but Consolidated Uranium sees reason for “confidence that the moratorium on developing uranium projects in the state may ultimately be overcome,” and appears content to settle in for a wait.
Centrifuge casings arrive in Piketon, Ohio. (Photo: Centrus Energy)
The Department of Energy announced a cost-shared award on November 10 valued at about $150 million for American Centrifuge Operating, a subsidiary of Centrus Energy, to complete the high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) demonstration project it began in 2019. After delays that Centrus attributes in part to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company now has until the end of 2023 to produce the first 20 kilograms of HALEU enriched to 19.75 percent U-235 from the 16-centrifuge cascade it has installed in a DOE-owned Piketon, Ohio, facility—the only U.S. facility currently licensed to produce HALEU.
Framatome’s GAIA fuel assembly with Protect EATF technologies. (Photo: Framatome)
Framatome has completed the second 18-month cycle of its GAIA Protect Enhanced Accident Tolerant Fuel (EATF) technology at Vogtle’s Unit 2 in Waynesboro, Ga. Inspections afterward revealed that the full-length chromium-coated fuel rods maintained their original characteristics, while the chromia-enhanced pellets operated as designed during 36 months of reactor operation.
Natrium Fuel Facility groundbreaking. (Photo: GNF-A)
Global Nuclear Fuel–Americas (GNF-A) and TerraPower announced their plans to build a Natrium fuel fabrication facility next to GNF-A’s existing fuel plant near Wilmington, N.C, on October 21. While more than 50 years of fuel fabrication at the site have supported the boiling water reactor designs of GE (GNF-A’s majority owner) and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), the Natrium Fuel Facility will produce metallic high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel for the sodium fast reactor—Natrium—that TerraPower is developing with GEH.
An image from the video “What is High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU)?” released by the DOE in April 2020. (Source: DOE)
Another piece of the plan for meeting the urgent need for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to fuel advanced reactor deployments fell into place when the Department of Energy held an Industry Day on October 14. Attendees were asked how soon they could deliver 25 metric tons per year of HALEU enriched in the United States from newly mined uranium. Offtake contracts for six or more years of HALEU production at that rate could be used to stock a DOE-owned HALEU bank to “support [HALEU] availability for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use.”
Government officials and representatives of X-energy and its TRISO-X subsidiary at the October 13 groundbreaking. (Photo: X-energy)
Leaders of X-energy and its TRISO-X subsidiary gathered on October 13 to break ground at the site of what X-energy bills as “North America’s first commercial-scale advanced nuclear fuel facility” in Oak Ridge, Tenn. X-energy expects the TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility (TF3) to create more than 400 jobs and to be commissioned and operational by 2025.
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.
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.
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.