BWXT completes TRISO fuel line restart

10 November 2020

BWXT Nuclear Operations Group, Inc has completed its TRISO nuclear fuel line restart project and is actively producing fuel at its facility in Lynchburg, Virginia, BWX Technologies, Inc (BWXT) has announced. TRISO - standing for TRIstructural-ISOtropic - particles contain a spherical kernel of enriched uranium oxycarbide surrounded by layers of carbon and silicon carbide, which contains fission products.

BWXT's Lunchburg facility (Image: BWXT)

TRISO particles are stable to very high temperatures and are used to manufacture fuel for high-temperature reactors which operate at 750 to 950°C. BWXT says it is the only US company to manufacture irradiation-tested uranium oxycarbide TRISO fuel using production-scale equipment.

"The restart of our TRISO line positions BWXT as the only company in the US that is currently executing production contracts for TRISO fuel," Nuclear Operations Group President Joel Duling said.

BWXT announced in October 2019 it was restarting its existing TRISO nuclear fuel production line, and also planned to expand its capacity. In March of this year, the US Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a contract to BWXT to fabricate high assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) TRISO fuel to support development of the DOE's Transformational Challenge Reactor, and in June the company was awarded a contract from the Idaho National Laboratory to expand and upgrade BWXT's TRISO manufacturing capacity.

The full restart of the TRISO fuel line means that BWXT is now manufacturing fuel across four commercial and government business lines, the company said. In addition to the TRISO line, these are: BWXT Nuclear Energy Canada, which manufactures about half of the fuel that powers the commercial reactor fleet in Ontario; BWXT subsidiary Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc, which provides nuclear fuel for the US Navy; and BWXT Uranium Processing and Research Reactors, which is the only North American supplier of research reactor fuel elements for colleges, universities and national laboratories.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News