ARC, CNL team up on SMR fuel fabrication

27 July 2022

ARC Clean Energy Canada has partnered with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) to deliver a technology demonstration of the fuel fabrication process for ARC's ARC-100 advanced small modular reactor (SMR).

A rendering of a plant based on the ARC-100 (Image: ARC Clean Energy Canada)

Funded through CNL's Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI), CNL will support ARC with expertise in nuclear fuel fabrication and access to state-of-the-art research facilities at its Chalk River Laboratories site to develop a fuel pin prototype fabrication line for ARC technology. The prototype work will also deliver a qualified set of procedures for the development of a "made in Canada" production line to support a Canadian fleet approach.

Launched in 2019, the CNRI programme was established by CNL to accelerate the deployment of SMRs in Canada by enabling research and development, and connecting the SMR industry with the facilities and expertise within Canada's national nuclear laboratories. Among the many benefits of the programme, participants optimise resources, share technical knowledge, and gain access to CNL's expertise to help advance the commercialisation of SMR technologies.

The joint project is expected to be completed within two years.

"This is a significant first step towards establishing capability in Canada to manufacture fuel assemblies for the ARC technology," said ARC Canada Fuel Systems Engineer Maggie Manley. "Our collaboration with CNL, with access to their world-class facilities and qualified technical experts, is critical to validate our fuel qualification programme and deployment approach."

"Fuel development is a particular strength of the team here at the Chalk River Laboratories," said Jeff Griffin, Vice-President of Science and Technology. "We have supported the fuel development for Canadian heavy water reactor technology since their inception back in the 1950s; continue to support fuel needs across Canada and the globe; and, in recent years have been investing and growing our capabilities in small modular and advanced reactor technologies and fuels.

"This exciting new CNRI project will benefit from this experience, enrich our current skill set, and help ARC Canada move their product closer towards commercialisation."

ARC's ARC-100 is a 100 MWe sodium-cooled fast reactor based on proven technology developed at the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR II) sodium-cooled fast-reactor, which operated successfully at the US government's Argonne National Laboratory for 30 years.

The ARC-100 is one of two fourth-generation, advanced SMRs to be developed in New Brunswick under a joint strategic plan for SMR deployment set out earlier this year by the provincial governments of Ontario, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta, with a fully operational unit at the Point Lepreau nuclear site by 2029. Moltex Energy is aiming to have both a used fuel recovery system and Stable Salt Reactor in operation by the early 2030s, also at Point Lepreau.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News