Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation Sites Pilot Fuel Manufacturing Facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Source: BusinessWire | Release | March 2, 2022 |
OAK RIDGE, Tenn.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) announces the siting of its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) operation in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The facility is located on the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), site of Manhattan Project’s K-25 gaseous diffusion plant. USNC purchased the 8.7-acre site with a pre-existing industrial building from Heritage Center LLC in 2021. The new facility is in proximity to the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the DOE National Nuclear Security Administration’s Y-12 National Security Complex, and will leverage the region’s specialized workforce and its unique collection of organizations working on advanced nuclear-fuel solutions.
USNC plans to commission and operate the production-scale modules involved in manufacturing of TRISO coated fuel particles and its proprietary Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM®) fuel. The PFM facility is targeted to initiate operations in the summer of 2022, upon receipt of state and local permits. The PFM facility will be able to process feedstock uranium powder into TRISO fuel particles and subsequently produce FCM fuel in multiple kilogram quantities.
This PFM facility will codify and demonstrate its manufacturing modules, enabling USNC’s advanced fuel factory licensing and scalable deployment of its fuel-production capability. The individual manufacturing modules, once fully codified and demonstrated, will be deployed into new production facilities to meet the demand for fueling USNC’s Micro Modular Reactor (MMRTM) and other advanced terrestrial and space energy systems.
“Proximity to ORNL and Y-12, as well as access to east Tennessee’s highly skilled and motivated nuclear workforce, was a key consideration in our site selection,” said Kurt Terrani, executive vice president of USNC’s Core Division. “The excellent support we received from Tennessee Department of Community & Economic Development as well as Tennessee Valley Authority made the decision that much easier to site our PFM facility in Oak Ridge.”
The manufacturing modules and technologies that USNC is deploying at the PFM facility are based on smaller scale systems and processes originally developed under various DOE programs, especially at ORNL. One of these technologies, a 3D-printing process for manufacturing refractory ceramic carbides, was recently licensed by USNC from ORNL. The proximity to and strong cooperation with ORNL continue to be highly instrumental in USNC’s efforts to commercialize these technologies and establish a cost-effective advanced nuclear fuel supply chain. Adjacent to the pilot facility is the Y-12 National Security Complex, offering key resources and expertise that will be essential in facilitating uranium processing operations at USNC.
“As a national leader in clean, reliable nuclear energy, Tennessee plays a significant role in powering America and fueling our economy,” said Tennessee Governor, Bill Lee. “Our highly skilled workforce, strong business climate and local advantages make Oak Ridge the premier location for Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, and I commend their decision to expand in Tennessee.”
“USNC was precisely the type of company we wanted to occupy this facility when CROET built it as a speculative building on property formerly owned by the U.S. DOE,” explained Teresa Frady, President and CEO of Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee (CROET). “USNC’s cutting-edge technologies are a perfect fit for the Heritage Center, and the company will be a powerful job-generator for the community.”
“It’s great to see companies like USNC co-locating near the laboratory to further collaborations on nuclear fuel R&D efforts that benefit our community and are key to net-zero goals,” said Kathy McCarthy, Associate Laboratory Director for Fusion and Fission Energy and Science at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Siting USNC’s pilot fuel manufacturing facility at the ETTP site highlights the success of the re-industrialization program that was launched in the 1990s by the DOE and the Oak Ridge community. These efforts to clean-up and reuse former Manhattan Project sites and facilities have made available ideal brownfield industrial sites that USNC is now able to productively utilize as it works to deliver and fuel its advanced nuclear energy modules.
Privately funded, American-owned and controlled USNC has invested more than $12M to date into the PFM facility with more to follow. USNC’s growing presence in Oak Ridge will create more than 30 highly skilled jobs within the first two years of operation. The company’s expansion in Oak Ridge highlights USNC’s commitment to rapid and efficient development of its advanced technologies and a focus on delivering tangible products to an energy market that needs nuclear power to shed carbon emissions.
“The investment of USNC in the PFM facility and other advanced manufacture facilities in the U.S. indicates that the commercialization of our micro modular reactor is imminent,” stated USNC’s CEO, Francesco Venneri. “We’re reaching a key point in the evolution of the MMR, with a well-developed technology, the responsive engagement with regulators, and the demand from customers in multiple regions, where a firm commitment to establish a strong manufacturing base is warranted. The PFM facility is one extremely important step we are taking in this direction.”
About Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation
Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), a wholly U.S.-controlled corporation headquartered in Seattle, is a global leader in the deployment of micro reactors, and a strong vertical integrator of nuclear power technologies. The company is committed to bringing safe, commercially competitive, clean and reliable nuclear energy to power markets throughout the world. USNC is demonstrating MMR Energy Systems at the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories in partnership with Ontario Power Generation and at the University of Illinois, and has started new projects to further deploy its technology in the United States, Canada, and Europe. The company adheres to strict inherent and intrinsic safety principles through technological innovation in fuels, materials, and design. USNC is Reliable Energy. Anywhere.