Orano developing transport packages for advanced fuels

06 September 2023

Orano and Urenco are developing a new cylinder designed for the transport of uranium enriched up to 20%. Meanwhile, the US nuclear regulator has approved the doubling of capacity of Orano's enriched uranium transport package.

The 30B-X cylinder (Image: Orano)

Orano and Urenco have signed a consortium agreement for testing and development of the new 30B-X cylinder designed to transport uranium enriched up to 20%.

Orano said the new cylinder is designed in light of future low enriched uranium plus (LEU+) and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel transport. For the upcoming new fuel designs and the evolution of the small modular reactor market, solutions will be required for the transport of uranium enriched to up to 20%, as they are not currently available on the market.

The 30B-X cylinder equips the innovative DN30-X packaging. This DN30-X packaging combines the properties of the existing DN30 overpack with the new 30B-X cylinder into which is inserted the criticality control system (CCS) to ensure transport safety thanks to control rods with neutrophilic characteristics.

Two versions of the 30B-X cylinder are available for optimised transport capacity depending on the level of uranium enrichment, with a different number of CCS control rods: one model with a capacity of 1460 kg of uranium enriched up to 10%, and a second with a capacity of 1271 kg of uranium enriched up to 20%.

The DN30-X package was licensed in March 2023 by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Licensing in France is in progress and is expected in the second half of 2024. Licensing for other countries will follow upon request, Orano said.

In parallel to licensing in France, two prototypes of the 30B-X cylinder were delivered to two enrichment facilities for testing of the integration of the cylinders into their plant processes: at a Urenco enrichment site and at Orano's Tricastin site in France.

Capacity of transport package doubled

Orano's new high-capacity basket (HCB) for its Versa-Pac VP-55 enriched uranium transport package has obtained approval from the NRC.

(Image: Orano)

The HCB allows two 5-inch (12.7-cm) diameter pipe containers to be secured inside a VP-55 package, instead of only one. At the maximum length of 21 inches, each pipe can be filled to capacity or hold two standard two-litre or three 850-millilitre plastic shipping bottles of material.

Orano said its VP-55 Type AF package was specifically designed and licensed to meet the anticipated increasing need for transporting 10% LEU+ and up to 20% HALEU material fueling a growing number of advanced reactor designs.

"Based on our decades of nuclear fuel cycle expertise, Orano is increasingly involved in helping develop the advanced reactor supply chain with innovations and enhancements to our products and services," said Orano USA CEO Amir Vexler. "Doubling the capacity of our versatile VP-55 package creates immediate value for customers shipping a variety of nuclear materials. We are excited to support the development of advanced reactors, which this package would enable."

The Versa-Pac is licensed for shipment of tristructural isotropic (TRISO) fuel, uranium oxides, uranium metal, uranyl nitrate crystals and other uranium compounds such as uranium carbides, uranyl fluorides and uranyl carbonates, uranium hexafluoride, and thorium.