Southern Nuclear said the agreement will include the loading of four fuel assemblies made of next generation pellets and cladding developed by Westinghouse under the US Department of Energy’s ATF programme.
The company said ATF fuel is expected to improve safety and offer operational savings and efficiencies. The lead test assembly installation will mark the first planned use of uranium-235 with an enrichment level higher than 5% in a domestic commercial reactor.
According to Westinghouse, the fuel rods in the assemblies will have a 6% enrichment level – one percentage point higher than the current licensed limit – and will include the company’s Adopt pellets and Axiom chromium-coated cladding, both part of the EnCore ATF development programme.
Westinghouse said the lead assemblies are expected to be introduced at Vogtle-2 in 2023.
The company previously said EnCore fuel has the potential to increase safety through the use of new materials, while improving the economics of plant operation through longer fuel burn cycles and improved flexibility.
In 2019 and 2020, EnCore test assemblies were loaded at the Byron-2 nuclear plant in Illinois and Belgium’s Doel-4 plant.