Cameco, X-energy join up to support SMR deployment

17 September 2021

Canadian companies Cameco and X-energy have entered a non-binding and non-exclusive Memorandum of Understanding to explore possible areas of cooperation to support the potential future deployment, fuelling and servicing of Xe-100 small modular reactors (SMRs) in Canada and the USA.

(Image: X-energy)

Cameco is one of the largest global suppliers of uranium and also provides uranium mining, refining, conversion and fuel manufacturing services. X-energy is developing the Xe-100 high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) and in August expanded its fuel division to commercially develop its proprietary tristructural isotropic (TRISO) fuel.

Cameco President and CEO Tim Gitzel said the company is "very confident" about the future of nuclear power and SMRs. "We intend to be a fuel supplier of choice for the emerging SMR and advanced reactor market and look forward to working with X-energy to see what opportunities might exist around their innovative reactor technology," he said.

Pete Pappano, president of X-energy's TRISO-X fuel fabrication subsidiary, said the partnership with Cameco could provide a steady fuel supply for X-energy's technology in North America and support its deployment around the world. "Cameco is a cornerstone of the Canadian nuclear industry and has global reach," he said.

The Xe-100 is a Generation IV advanced reactor design which X-energy says is based on decades of HTGR operation, research, and development. Designed to operate as a standard 320 MWe four-pack power plant or scaled in units of 80 MWe, it is engineered to deliver reliable and load-following grid-scale power to electricity systems and to pair seamlessly with renewables. At 200 MWt of 565°C steam, the Xe-100 is also suitable for other power applications including mining and heavy industry.

The US Department of Energy has selected X-energy to deliver a commercial TRISO fuel fabrication facility and a four-module version of the Xe-100 under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), investing some USD1.23 billion to license, site, build and operate a commercial-scale advanced nuclear power plant Energy Northwest. The Xe-100 four-pack reactor plant is slated for operation in 2027.

The Xe-100 has also been selected by Ontario Power Generation as a potential technology for an SMR which it aims to have in operation at its Darlington site as early as 2028.

It is undergoing vendor design review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and is also one of the subjects of the Canadian and US nuclear regulators' collaborative project on the licensing of SMRs.

"We're partnering with the Canadian nuclear industry to create an SMR ecosystem that will grow with the developing large-scale deployment of our Xe-100 design - the ideal technology to advance Canada's net-zero goals,” said Katherine Moshonas Cole, president of X-energy Canada. The collaboration with Cameco "could increase the value of Canadian uranium to our domestic industry and create future export prospects," she added.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News