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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
NRC-approved Framatome shipping container. (Photo: Framatome)
Framatome announced on February 22 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a license amendment that would allow Framatome’s shipping containers to transport, in the United States, fresh nuclear fuel assemblies containing uranium enriched up to 8 percent uranium-235.
Light water reactor fuel with higher enrichments and burnup capabilities than currently used under low-enriched uranium regulation could improve electricity generation and fuel utilization, possibly improving plant economics and providing more flexible reactor performance through extended operating cycles and more efficient core configurations.