Urenco USA, USNC in advanced reactor uranium supply 'first'

02 March 2023

A newly announced agreement under which Urenco USA will supply enriched uranium to Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation to manufacture fuel for its Micro-Modular Reactor (MMR) has been described by the companies as the first commercial supply of enriched uranium product (EUP) for use in an advanced nuclear reactor anywhere in the world.

(Image: Urenco USA/USNC)

The EUP will be produced and supplied from Urenco USA's enrichment facility in New Mexico - the only commercial enrichment services supplier in the USA - and will be used in the manufacture of tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) particles and USNC's Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM) fuel via USNC's planned joint venture with Framatome.

Terms and details of the supply agreement are commercially confidential and will not be disclosed publicly, the companies said. This first batch of EUP is scheduled for delivery to the USNC-Framatome fuel manufacturing joint venture in 2025, to coincide with the start of TRISO and FCM fuel factory operations.

The MMR is a 15 MW thermal, 5 MW electrical high-temperature gas-cooled reactor which is undergoing licensing in Canada and the USA. USNC is working to deploy demonstration units at Chalk River in Canada and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, targeting first nuclear power at Chalk River in 2026 and at the Illinois project in 2027.

The agreement strengthens USNC's vertical integration and helps derisk the front-end of the MMR fuel cycle by securing sufficient quantities of EUP to support reactor deployments, USNC said.

"With others facing so much uncertainty regarding fuel supply, it is vital to have reliable commercial partners to source, transport, and deconvert our EUP, feeding our fuel factory operations," USNC Executive Vice President Kurt Terrani said.

"UUSA is preparing to supply the fuels that will be required by the next generation of advanced reactors," said Karen Fili, president and CEO of Urenco USA. "By leveraging our US infrastructure and highly skilled workforce, UUSA is well-positioned to supply enriched uranium product to fuel those reactors, as needed by the market and supported by long-term supply agreements."

Modular production lines for TRISO particles and FCM fuel have already been demonstrated at scale at USNC's Pilot Fuel Manufacturing facility, which opened in August 2022. In January, USNC announced plans to partner with Framatome in a joint venture to manufacture commercial quantities of TRISO fuel particles and fuel for advanced reactor designs.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News