Source: Oak Ridge Today | John Huotari | September 7, 2017

Larry Cutlip, left, Centrus Energy vice president of field operations, and Pete Pappano, X Energy vice president of fuel production, announce a collaboration on fuel for advanced nuclear reactors at the Nuclear Suppliers Workshop at Pollard Technology Conference Center on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)Larry Cutlip, left, Centrus Energy vice president of field operations, and Pete Pappano, X Energy vice president of fuel production, announce a collaboration on fuel for advanced nuclear reactors at the Nuclear Suppliers Workshop at Pollard Technology Conference Center on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

Two companies that have operations or employees in Oak Ridge are exploring a collaboration for the possible production of fuel for advanced nuclear reactors.

The two companies, X Energy LLC and Centrus Energy Corporation, announced Wednesday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding for the potential collaboration.

They are expected to put together a business plan for the fuel fabrication business. It’s not clear how long that might take, said Jeremy Derryberry, Centrus Energy senior communications manager.

But the companies are working toward the development of a fuel fabrication facility that could possibly be in Oak Ridge, where Centrus, formerly known as USEC, has had operations for about 15 years.

“We really think that Oak Ridge can be a nexus for the advanced reactor industry in the U.S. going forward,” Derryberry said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The collaboration is expected to start almost immediately, company executives said after an announcement made at a Nuclear Suppliers Workshop at Pollard Technology Conference Center in Oak Ridge at lunchtime Wednesday. The announcement was made by Pete Pappano, vice president of fuel production for X Energy LLC, and Larry Cutlip, vice president of field operations for Centrus Energy.

The American Centrifuge Technology Manufacturing Center in south Oak Ridge is pictured above. (Photo courtesy USEC/Centrus Energy Corp.)

An advanced reactor would be much smaller than a typical reactor. It would produce power in the range of 100 to 200 megawatts, and its primary components would be built in a factory and shipped to a reactor site. It would take less time to build and deploy an advanced reactor, compared to a typical reactor now, and there would be a large reduction in carrying costs, the costs accumulated before a reactor starts generating power, Derryberry said.

A typical reactor now is about 1,000 megawatts, and it is built on site.

If built, the fuel fabrication facility would be based on a type of fuel known as the uranium oxycarbide (UCO) tristructural isotropic (TRISO) fuel form. The fuel fabrication facility would provide fuel to X-energy reactors and advanced nuclear reactor companies around the world, a press release said.

“We’re looking at doing it right here in Oak Ridge,” Cutlip said.

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