TerraPower Teams with Centrus Energy to Produce HALEU Fuel

  • TerraPower and Centrus Propose HALEU Facility
  • CNL and Terrestrial Energy to Collaborate on IMSR Power Plant
  • DOE Heads North to Alaska to Work on Micro Reactors
  • World Nuclear Association Appoints Sama Bilbao y León, Ph.D as New Director General
  • UAE May Build Four More Nuclear Reactors
  • Energy Communities Alliance Launches a “New Nuclear” Initiative

TerraPower and Centrus Propose HALEU Facility

terrapower_thumb.jpgTerraPower announces plan to invest in domestic advanced nuclear fuel production to ensure U.S.-based fuel supply for advanced reactors. Will team with Centrus Energy to create domestic, commercial-scale HALEU production

TerraPower announced September 15th its plans to team with Centrus Energy Corp. (NYSE American: LEU) to establish commercial-scale, domestic production capabilities for high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU), which will be needed to fuel many next-generation reactor designs.

The fuel would be used by the recently announced Natrium Power Storage System designed by TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

The proposed investment is part of the TerraPower-led proposal for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), which is intended to support the deployment of two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs in the next five to seven years.

The ARDP requires applicants to “establish a plan by which they would obtain the fuel/special nuclear material needed for their projects.”

The TerraPower application proposes that, if selected for ARDP, the company would work with Centrus to build commercial-scale capacity to produce HALEU and fabricate it into metal fuel assemblies. HALEU, which is not commercially available today, offers improved reactor economics, greater fuel efficiency, enhanced safety and proliferation resistance, lower volumes of waste and other advantages.

terra power ge hitachiThe first year of scope initiates the facility’s design and licensing and involves detailed planning and cost estimating for implementation of the new infrastructure and production.

The Natrium reactor technology employs a metal fuel form that is not currently available from any U.S. commercial nuclear fuel supplier. This contract will close the gap in metal-specific fabrication infrastructure and meet growing HALEU needs.

“We are investing in American capability because it offers advantages related to assured domestic supply for the Natrium technology’s long-term commercialization prospects,” said Chris Levesque, TerraPower President and CEO.

“By catalyzing commercial-scale HALEU production, the proposed investment would put America in the leadership position when it comes to fueling the advanced reactors of tomorrow,” said Daniel B. Poneman, Centrus President and CEO.

“This partnership with TerraPower would enable us to expand beyond demonstration scale and we have more than enough room at the Ohio plant to continue expanding uranium enrichment and fuel fabrication capability as demand grows and the market matures.”

Centrus Energy is currently working under a three-year, $115 million cost-shared contract with the Department of Energy to deploy 16 of its AC-100M centrifuges at its Piketon, Ohio, facility to demonstrate HALEU production. Once the demonstration is complete in mid-2022, TerraPower would work with Centrus to expand the plant to meet the fuel requirements of the Natrium demonstration reactor.

HALEU is Number 1 “Keep Awake” Issue for Developers of Advanced Reactors

In a survey of America’s advanced reactor developers conducted by the U.S. Nuclear Industry Council, the availability of HALEU was cited as the number one issue that “keeps you up at night.”

The Department of Energy’s U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group report also identified HALEU production capability as a key priority in restoring U.S. leadership in nuclear technologies, and bills supporting HALEU have passed the House of Representatives and received bipartisan support in the Senate.

TerraPower and Centrus Make Plans Beyond DOE Contract

To ensure that both the reactor can be commercialized within five to seven years and that new HALEU production capacity can be built, the Natrium proposal includes additional private investment levels, beyond the 50% cost share minimum required by the Department of Energy for ARDP demonstration reactors.

This additional investment will be used to build HALEU infrastructure that can benefit the large number of advanced reactor developers planning on using HALEU.

In addition to creating HALEU production capacity, TerraPower and its partners plan to establish a new Category II metal fuel fabrication facility that is scaled to meet the needs of the Natrium demonstration program.

The facility will include the capability to manufacture the Natrium technology’s advanced metal fuel forms that will be included as lead test assemblies in the demonstration plant. Specific terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

CNL and Terrestrial Energy to Collaborate on IMSR Power Plant

Terrestrial Energy announced an agreement with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) to collaborate on a program of work evaluating safeguards related to the operation of Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR), a Generation IV advanced nuclear power plant.

pathways to uses of IMSRThe work will involve establishing material accounting methods to track the IMSR’s nuclear fuel salt and is being supported by CNL’s Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI). The CNRI was launched in 2019 to support the deployment and advance the commercialization of SMRs, as envisioned in Canada’s SMR Roadmap, by using the facilities and expertise within Canada’s national nuclear laboratories.

“Safeguards” is an international regulatory framework that ensures the security of nuclear material. This system is administered in Canada by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and verified internationally by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) under national treaty arrangements.

Terrestrial Energy has developed a Safeguards program for the IMSR power plant operation. These Safeguards follow Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) regulatory requirements on Safeguards and nuclear material accountancy.

“The CNRI program was established to make our facilities and researchers easily accessible to SMR developers, such as Terrestrial Energy, so that we can help support deployment of these technologies,” said Joe McBrearty, CNL’s President and CEO.

“This CNRI-supported project will help to enable Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR Safeguard program and methods, which are essential for regulatory approval.”

“CNL has a long and reputed history delivering world-class services to the nuclear industry, and we intend to leverage this expertise as part of our supply chain strategy,” said Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy.

The IMSR’s molten salt fuel cycle has been designed to meet the stringent nuclear safety, performance, and reliability requirements for IMSR power plant operation. The collaboration agreement between CNL and Terrestrial Energy further strengthens the relationship between the two companies that started in June 2016 with a Master Task Agreement for consulting, technical and scientific services.

DOE Heads North to Alaska

US Energy Department reopens Arctic office with focus on methane hydrates, microgrids and nuclear micro reactors.


Conceptual image of a micro nuclear reactor in at an arctic site. Image: Third Way

The office will also focus on oil recovery, carbon reinjection, extended-reach drilling, liquefied natural gas, gas hydrates and alternative energy.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced Sept 16th it would reopen its Arctic Energy Office, located at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. The office will collaborate internationally on Arctic issues, as well as advancing research on methane hydrates and the development of microgrids and nuclear power.

Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said in a statement that the office would “strengthen and coordinate our work in energy, science, and national security.”

Deputy Secretary Mark W. Menezes said that international collaboration with other Arctic nations was important as “the region’s geopolitical importance increases.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, had set a priority on the reestablishment of the office in the 2020 Energy-Water Appropriations bill.

The Arctic Energy Office will research, develop and deploy energy technology particularly in rural and remote parts of the country and “especially where permafrost is present or located nearby.”

The office won’t belong to a specific program area, and it will report to the Under Secretary of Energy. The office will coordinate work both within the U.S.

World Nuclear Association Appoints Sama Bilbao y León, Ph.D, as New Director General

Sama Bilbao y León, Ph.D., Head of the Division of Nuclear Technology Development and Economics at OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, has been appointed as the next Director General by the World Nuclear Association.  From the WNA press release . . . bit.ly/33zylgf

World Nuclear Association announces that Agneta Rising, Director General since January 2013, will be stepping down from her position at the end of October to move to new endeavors.

Dr Sama Bilbao y León, currently the Head of the Division of Nuclear Technology Development and Economics at OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, has been appointed as the next Director General by the World Nuclear Association Board of Management.

Sama brings a very diverse professional experience, having worked in the nuclear industry, in academia, and in international organizations, including the IAEA.

Her background is in Nuclear Engineering, and she is well versed in all topics relating to nuclear energy including nuclear safety, energy and environmental policy, electricity markets and economics. Her extensive experience working in international environments makes her particularly suited for this role.

UAE May Build Four More Nuclear Reactors

(SPGlobal/Platts) The trade wire service reports that the UAE, which became this year the first Gulf country to use nuclear power to generate electricity, may in the future construct four more nuclear reactors, depending on the country’s needs, a government official said Sept. 17

“We designed Barakah for eight units,” Mohamed al-Hammadi, CEO of Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. told a webcast organized by the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency.

“The government decision — whenever we decide to go beyond the four — that depends on the energy strategy. The government does every 10 years a comprehensive review of the energy policy.”

When all four units at Barakah are operational, they will produce 5.6 GW of electricity, meeting up to 25% of the country’s power needs.

Construction of the three remaining nuclear units is almost complete and the full commissioning of all units will take a few years, Hammadi said, without giving a specific timeline. The 1.4-GW Barakah-1 was connected to the grid in August.

ECA Launches “New Nuclear” Initiative

The board of directors of the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), an organization known more for its work in advancing the cleanup of Department of Energy sites, is launching a new initiative aimed at supporting the development of new nuclear technologies. As announced by the ECA on September 15, the self-funded, one-year initiative will focus on small modular reactors, micro and advanced reactors, a skilled nuclear workforce, and new nuclear missions around DOE facilities. facilities.

eca logo2The board of directors of the Energy Communities Alliance (ECA), an organization known more for its work in advancing the cleanup of Department of Energy sites, is launching a new initiative aimed at supporting the development of new nuclear technologies.

As announced by the ECA on September 15, the self-funded, one-year initiative will focus on small modular reactors, micro and advanced reactors, a skilled nuclear workforce, and new nuclear missions around DOE facilities. facilities.

“With growing bipartisan support for nuclear energy in Congress, new federal demonstration projects led by DOE and the Department of Defense, and notable investment from the private sector, local governments want to be meaningfully engaged—and prepared—to match the strengths and needs of our communities with new nuclear opportunities,” the ECA said in its announcement.

Why new nuclear? The ECA, a nonprofit, membership organization of local governments adjacent to or impacted by DOE activities, said that its communities host and support the nuclear research and development that is under way across the DOE complex.

This includes, the organization said, the advanced nuclear reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee; the production of high-assay low-enriched uranium in Piketon, Ohio; and the development of the Versatile Test Reactor and the NuScale small modular reactor at Idaho National Laboratory.

The ECA also points to private-sector initiatives such as Bill Gates’ TerraPower, Deep Isolation’s nuclear waste disposal solution, and NDB’s battery that is powered by nuclear waste.

“ECA communities are knowledgeable about and, in many ways, driven by the nuclear missions they already host,” the ECA said.

“These local governments are eager to fill vital roles, from establishing new U.S.-based manufacturing and supply chains to promoting creation of training programs at local community colleges around existing nuclear sites.”

A new subcommittee: To focus its work, the ECA formed the New Nuclear subcommittee, led by Rebecca Casper, mayor of Idaho Falls, Idaho, and identified the three core questions the subcommittee will address:

  • What do communities need to know to attract and support new nuclear development/missions?
  • What and how should communities communicate to industry, national laboratories, and state and federal governments about local resources and development opportunities?
  • What hurdles and challenges will communities face and who can the ECA work with to overcome them?

The ECA said that it will build on former successful efforts working cooperatively with the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, industry, contractors, educators, and labor unions to address these issues, ensure information sharing, and identify how best to take action on common goals.

First steps: The New Nuclear subcommittee intends to begin by hosting a series of educational webinars to facilitate interaction and develop a shared understanding of the outlook for developing technologies, messaging and advocacy strategies, national security implications, and supply chain impacts and needs.

The ECA will also develop written resources to support education and outreach in communities on specific issues, including understanding priorities and timelines, federal and state regulatory requirements, community and workforce needs related to siting, potential cost-sharing, and public/private partnership opportunities. New issues are expected to be identified through ongoing discussions throughout the project year.

Participation: Those looking to collaborate or provide educational resources, or those wanting more information about the ECA New Nuclear subcommittee, are asked to contact Kara Colton, ECA director of nuclear policy, at kara.colton@energyca.org or MacKenzie Kerr, ECA program manager, at mackenziek@energyca.org

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