Materials developed at the new facility will be used in the company’s micro-modular reactor (MMR) and other nuclear reactors, including gas-cooled reactors, light water reactors, Candu reactors, and molten salt cooled reactors.
Salt Lake City was selected partly because the region is home to significant ceramics and materials expertise, central to the manufacturing of FCM fuel. The Salt Lake City Lab augments Ultra Safe’s materials development efforts at the University of Tennessee Knoxville and collaborations with the Chalk River Laboratories.
FCM is a next-generation Triso particle fuel design, replacing the 50-year-old graphite matrix of traditional Triso fuel with silicon carbide (SiC), a material used in tank armour that is extremely resistant to radiation and thermal damage. Triso, a shortened form of the term tristructural-isotropic, refers to a specific design of uranium nuclear reactor fuel.
According to Ultra Safe, the result is a safer nuclear fuel that can withstand higher temperatures and more radiation. The SiC matrix in FCM fuel provides a dense, gas-tight barrier preventing the escape of fission products even if a Triso particle should rupture during operation.
FCM fuel will be first used in Ultra Safe’s MMW, a 15 MW reactor at the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Chalk River Laboratories campus in Ontario, Canada. The MMW is in the advanced licensing stage with Canada’s nuclear regulator.