The fuel is intended for use in Terrestrial Energy’s integral molten salt reactor (IMSR), a Generation IV advanced nuclear power plant, which is under development in Ontario, Canada.
The agreement with Westinghouse and the NNL – the UK’s national laboratory for nuclear fission research – defines the process for delivering IMSR fuel for commercial use.
Westinghouse said the initiative will support jobs at its Springfields site in Lancashire, northern England.
The NNL provides critical technical support services to Westinghouse from its research facility co-located on the Springfields site.
Simon Irish, Terrestrial Energy’s chief executive officer, said the company is working on “a multiple sourcing strategy” for IMSR fuel supply. “[This] agreement is an important step to demonstrate reliable, secure and long-term commercial supply of reactor fuel to utilities operating IMSR power plants,” he said.
Terrestrial Energy, established in 2013, is proposing to build a 195-MW IMSR at Chalk River in Canada. It wants to commission the first IMSR power plants in the late 2020s.
The plant operates at high temperatures (600 Celsius) and is said to be 50% more efficient than traditional reactors. It uses a graphite moderator and standard assay low-enriched uranium fuel with the same level of enrichment (less than 5% U-235) as in conventional nuclear plants.