Clean Core said the agreement includes a schedule for irradiation and qualification testing for advanced thorium fuel at Idaho National Laboratory (INL).
The company said the move is “a major milestone” for the commercialisation of thorium-based energy.
Clean Core’s Aneel (“advanced nuclear energy for enriched life”) fuel technology uses a combination of thorium and high assay low-enriched uranium (Haleu) for a improved fuel performance in Candu reactors and in other pressurised heavy-water reactor (PHWR) designs.
In October 2021, the first fuel pellets were successfully fabricated by Texas A&M for Clean Core in partnership with the INL.
According to Clean Core, combining thorium and uranium has real benefits because thorium is about three times more abundant than uranium on Earth.
Clean Core said Aneel is a proliferation-resistant advanced nuclear fuel that enables Candu and similar reactors to operate more economically while significantly minimising waste and proliferation risk. Aneel fuel can also be optimised for use in pressurised water reactors, boiling water reactors, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors and small modular reactors.
INL expects to begin testing of the Aneel fuel in its advanced test reactor by the end of 2022 or early 2023, Clean Core said.
The company said it will in parallel to INL testing also complete performance and safety assessments and a demonstration irradiation of full-size fuel assemblies in a Candu reactor with partners in Canada.
Clean Core expects to have Aneel fuel assemblies operational in commercial Candu reactors by the end of 2025.