The BWX Technologies Inc. (BWXT) facility at Lynchburg, Virginia will produce TRISO (TRIstructural-ISOtropic) fuel to power Project Pele – a transportable microreactor. The US Department of Defense (DOD) Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) has partnered with the Department of Energy (DOE) to build the prototype which is to be completed and delivered in 2024 for testing at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) The fuel will be delivered separately
TRISO fuel particles contain a spherical kernel of enriched uranium oxycarbide surrounded by layers of carbon and silicon carbide, which contains fission products – it has been described by the DOE as “the most robust nuclear fuel on Earth”. The high-assay low-enrichment (HALEU) fuel is downblended from US government stockpiles of high-enriched uranium (HEU). BWXT’s are the only private US facilities licensed to possess and process HEU.
BWXT believe their TRISO nuclear plants can deliver clean, zero-carbon energy where and when it is needed. They envision it as a resilient power source for DOD operational needs, that also has the potential to be used in the civilian and commercial sectors for disaster response and recovery, power generation at remote locations, and deep decarbonization initiatives.
“This commercial TRISO fuel production line is the culmination of more than 15 years of work at INL and other DOE national laboratories, in partnership with BWXT, to develop and qualify this fuel with immense potential for use in microreactors, space reactors, and other advanced reactor concepts,” INL Laboratory Director John Wagner said. “As the United States moves steadily toward a carbon-free energy future, nuclear power is an essential part of the journey. Project Pele will demonstrate the viability of this fuel type, opening the door for other advanced reactors.”
Photo Credit: World Nuclear News
Photo Credit: Times-News