Terrestrial teams up with Orano for IMSR fuel supply

30 September 2021

Terrestrial Energy has signed an agreement with Orano for the supply of nuclear fuel for its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). The agreement is part of Terrestrial's multiple-sourcing strategy and follows the announcement last month of a similar partnership with Westinghouse and the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory.

A power plant based on the IMSR reactor (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

The agreement's scope of services includes uranium enrichment, chemical conversion to IMSR fuel form, its production, transportation, packaging and logistics. This scope covers analysis for full-scale commercial production and supply of IMSR fuel and applies to major markets for IMSR power plant deployment today, including Canada, Japan, the UK and the USA.

Terrestrial said the agreement is "part of its multiple-sourcing strategy for IMSR fuel supply and reflects Orano's intention to support next-generation reactor commercialisation with its broad range of fuel services." It noted the relationship between the two companies is "non-exclusive and allows both parties to pursue other similar business opportunities in the nuclear industry."

"This agreement with Terrestrial Energy applies the global fuel supply scope and experience of Orano to focus on powering the next generation of innovative, clean-air nuclear energy in Canada," said Orano USA President and CEO Amir Vexler. "Our North America team is proud to play an integral role in making this connection and fulfilling the agreement."

Terrestrial Energy CEO Simon Irish added, "Utility requirements for fuel supply extend beyond enrichment of uranium to a range of essential services that together provide secure supply of reactor fuel to power plant gate. The scope of our agreement covers that full range from enrichment, production, with its transport elements, including packaging and logistics, for comprehensive commercial supply. This range of services is essential for first IMSR power plant operations as early as 2028."

In August, Terrestrial announced a partnership in the UK with Westinghouse and the National Nuclear Laboratory to advance the industrial scale-up and commercial supply of enriched uranium fuel for use in the IMSR.

Molten salt reactors use fuel dissolved in a molten fluoride or chloride salt, which functions as both the fuel (producing the heat) and the coolant (transporting the heat away, and ultimately to the electricity generating equipment). Terrestrial's IMSR builds on 50 years of experience at the USA's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and integrates the primary reactor components, including the graphite moderator, into a sealed and replaceable reactor core unit with an operating lifetime of seven years.

The IMSR is fuelled with standard assay low-enriched uranium (LEU) - the commercial fuel standard in today's operating nuclear power plants - which is enriched to up to 5% uranium-235. The IMSR is currently the only Generation IV reactor designed to use standard assay LEU in operation.

Terrestrial Energy is engaged with regulators and industrial partners to complete IMSR engineering and plans to commission the first IMSR power plants in the late 2020s. The IMSR is undergoing a pre-licensing vendor design review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and Terrestrial Energy is one of three grid-scale SMR developers Ontario Power Generation is working with as part of its goal to deploy SMR technology.

Earlier this month, Terrestrial introduced its new IMSR400 power plant, which consists of twin IMSR reactors and generators to produce 390 MW of electricity at one site.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News