Uranium & Fuel

Advanced Fuels / Framatome-USNC Joint Venture Aims To Begin Manufacturing In 2025

By David Dalton
30 January 2023

Companies have ‘concrete plans’ for rapid expansion
Framatome-USNC Joint Venture Aims To Begin Manufacturing In 2025
The new JV plans to begin manufacturing Triso particles and FCM fuel in late 2025. Courtesy USNC.
France-based nuclear company Framatome and US-based Ultra Safe Nuclear have signed a non-binding agreement to form a joint venture to bring commercially viable, fourth-generation nuclear fuel to market for USNC’s micro-modular reactor (MMR) and other advanced nuclear power plant designs.

The joint venture expects to begin manufacturing Triso particles and fully ceramic microencapsulated (FCM) fuel in late 2025.

The two companies said they had developed “concrete plans” to support rapid expansion to meet demand growth for advanced nuclear fuel in the US and global markets.

The partnership follows the opening of USNC’s pilot fuel manufacturing facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, in August, the first and only privately funded facility in the US to manufacture Triso particles.

In addition, the facility’s engineers employ additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – to fabricate FCM fuel. Triso – or “tristructural-isotropic” – fuel particles contain a spherical kernel of enriched uranium oxycarbide surrounded by layers of carbon and silicon carbide, which contains fission products.

FCM fuel is essentially Triso fuel encased within a fully dense silicon carbide matrix. This combination provides an extremely rugged and stable fuel with extraordinary high temperature stability.

USNC said its MMR is a Generation IV nuclear energy system that delivers cost-effective electricity and process heat to users anywhere. The MMR is being licensed in Canada and the US.

USNC said MMR deployments are moving forward, including projects at Chalk River which is on target for first power in 2026, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, targeted for first power the following year.

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