Fuel


Westinghouse, Framatome to provide fuel for Kozloduy

January 5, 2023, 6:59AMNuclear News

Westinghouse Electric and Framatome have signed agreements with Kozloduy NPP—the eponymous operator of Bulgaria’s only nuclear power facility—to fabricate and deliver fuel for the site’s two operating reactors. Westinghouse will provide the fuel for Unit 5 under a 10-year contract inked on December 22, while Framatome will supply Unit 6 under a December 30 preliminary deal. First deliveries of fuel from Westinghouse and Framatome are expected in 2024 and 2025, respectively.

The two agreements, according to the Bulgarian News Agency, “are part of an effort to diversify energy supplies to Bulgaria and do away with the country’s dependence on Russian energy resources.” In November, the Bulgarian National Assembly approved 156–47 a resolution tasking the country’s Council of Ministers with licensing non-Russian nuclear fuel for Kozloduy.

NRC accepts TRISO-X application for 30-month review, with RAIs on deck

December 21, 2022, 7:00AMNuclear News
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.

TerraPower announces delay due to lack of fuel availability

December 19, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News

TerraPower, the advanced nuclear company backed by Bill Gates, announced last week that the start date for its Natrium reactor has been pushed back. As Russia is currently the only commercial source of the high-assay low- enriched uranium (HALEU) the plant requires, the company faces a lack of fuel availability. TerraPower originally planned to use Russian fuel to get its demonstration reactor up and running by 2028, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dashed those plans.

DOE-NE opens HALEU Consortium with focus on information exchange

December 8, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
(Image: DOE))

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy announced December 7 that its new HALEU Consortium is open for membership. And not just from U.S. enrichers, fuel fabricators, and others working in the front-end fuel cycle, but from “any U.S. entity, association, and government organization involved in the nuclear fuel cycle,” and—at the DOE’s discretion—“organizations whose facilities are in ally or partner nations.” The HALEU Consortium will essentially serve as an information clearinghouse to meet DOE-NE’s ongoing needs for firm supply and demand data as it supports the development of a commercial domestic high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) infrastructure to fuel advanced reactors. The consortium is open for business almost one full year after the DOE first requested public input on its structure.

Centrus signs to complete HALEU demo in 2023 as the DOE prepares draft RFP

December 6, 2022, 9:49AMNuclear News
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.

NRC investigates improper fuel use at University of Texas research reactor

November 23, 2022, 12:02PMANS Nuclear Cafe
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.

Virginia Uranium’s new owner hopes to wait out mining moratorium

November 21, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
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.

Centrus Energy gets more time and money to complete HALEU demo

November 15, 2022, 12:08PMNuclear News
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 accident tolerant fuel system successfully completes second cycle at Vogtle

October 27, 2022, 12:09PMNuclear News
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.

Just add HALEU: TerraPower and GNF-A break ground on fast reactor fuel facility

October 26, 2022, 9:21AMNuclear News
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.

DOE plans offtake contracts to stock a HALEU bank “as soon as possible”

October 21, 2022, 9:13AMNuclear News
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.”

TRISO-X breaks ground on Oak Ridge fuel facility as licensing work continues

October 17, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
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.

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

Donalds

Luria

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.