Uranium & Fuel

Advanced Reactors / Terrestrial Energy Signs Agreement For IMSR Fuel Pilot Plant In UK

By David Dalton
4 August 2023

Canadian company planning fleet of Generation IV reactors

Terrestrial Energy Signs Agreement For IMSR Fuel Pilot Plant In UK
The Springfields reactor fuel manufacturing site in Preston, northern England. Courtesy Terrestrial Energy.

Canada-based nuclear technology developer Terrestrial Energy has signed a manufacturing and supply contract with Springfields Fuels, a subsidiary of Westinghouse, for the design and construction of an integral molten salt reactor (IMSR) fuel pilot plant.

Springfields’ reactor fuel manufacturing site in Preston, northern England, has extensive existing infrastructure that is available to support the fuel supply for IMSR development, and scalable to support a fleet of IMSR plants operating in the 2030s, a statement said.

The contract will deliver a pilot plant in advance of a scaled-up facility for commercial reactor fuel supply to a fleet of Generation IV IMSR plants.

The UK government has committed £2.9m (€3.3m, $3.8m) to establish the pilot plant under its Nuclear Fuel Fund programme, part of the UK’s energy security strategy.

The contract is a result of partnership between Terrestrial Energy, Westinghouse Springfields Fuels and UK National Nuclear Laboratories, and follows a scoping and planning agreement signed in July 2021.

The IMSR plant is designed to use standard assay low enriched uranium (LEU) civilian nuclear fuel, thereby avoiding the need for high assay LEU (Haleu) fuel, which is not yet being produced in significant quantities. Terrestrial Energy has said future versions of the IMSR can use Haleu when it is available.

“We have designed our IMSR for rapid deployment so it uses standard uranium fuel, the only Generation IV advanced nuclear reactor to do so,” Terrestrial Energy said on social media.

The plant is designed to be sited close to its industrial end-user and to decarbonise industrial sectors such as steel and mining.

In April the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission completed phase two of the pre-licensing vendor design review for the IMSR plant.

Terrestrial Energy said this is the first advanced, high-temperature fission technology to complete a review of this type.

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