Source: Nuclear Engineering International | November 7, 2019
US-based Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) and X-energy have announced a collaboration to produce low-cost, high-quality TRi-structural ISOtropic (Triso) particle nuclear fuel.
The companies signed a teaming agreement for the purpose of developing High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) Triso fuel to potentially supply the US Department of Defense for microreactors and NASA for its nuclear thermal propulsion requirements.
“Triso is a robust fuel form well suited for military and space applications,” said X-energy CEO Clay Sell. “The extremely high and unnecessary cost of working with HALEU in a Category I NRC facility has, in the past, limited Triso’s economic viability in the marketplace. Utilising X-energy’s already operational state-of-the-art equipment in GNF’s licensed facility changes the dynamic for Triso-fuelled reactor deployment.”
President and CEO of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Jay Wileman, said GNF is excited to team with X-energy to bring the revolutionary TRISO fuel form to market. Using X-energy’s currently operating commercial-scale Triso production equipment and GNF’s NRC-licensed fuel fabrication facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, the arrangement is expected to produce Triso fuel of significantly higher quality and at substantially lower costs than other potential manufacturers.
Triso coated fuels comprise a uranium kernel, which is coated with three layers of pyrolytic carbon and one layer of silicon carbide. X-energy is currently manufacturing Triso particles in a pilot fuel facility located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It continues to build on the Triso fuel technology developed under the DOE Advanced Gas Reactor (AGR) Fuel Qualification Programme.