Advanced Reactors

Orano is supporting the development of advanced reactors with products and services for the front end and back end of the fuel cycle.
Orano is collaborating with advanced reactor developers and DOE to leverage our expertise with all fuel types including the next generation of nuclear fuel – high-assay, low enriched uranium (HALEU). Current advanced reactor technologies are based on gas-cooled, liquid metal, or molten salt designs, many of which require HALEU in the highest enrichment category. Utilizing higher enrichment fuel allows these next generation reactor technologies to achieve improved efficiencies and longer core lifetimes.

Visit our HALEU webpage

Also, only Orano is able to offer a complete and diverse set of options to solve the back end of the fuel cycle for existing and advanced reactors, regardless of fuel type (e.g,, oxides, metals, molten salts, TRISO, etc.).

Orano can be a long-term supplier of advanced fuels, logistics, or other solutions in this new market.

The following examples represent some our activities supporting advanced reactors.

Terrestrial Energy and Orano Complete Successful IMSR Fuel Packaging and Transportation Evaluation

Orano and Terrestrial Energy completed this evaluation as part of a broad-scope agreement that includes services such as uranium enrichment, chemical conversion to IMSR fuel form, its production, transportation, packaging and logistics.

Terrestrial Energy has completed a regulatory evaluation of packaging and cross-border transportation of Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) nuclear fuel in collaboration with Orano, a global leader in the nuclear fuel cycle.

This work demonstrates that nuclear fuel packaging used by Orano today to service the nuclear industry is suitable for the transportation and supply of IMSR fuel. The scope of the evaluation covered compliant packaging and transportation for Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and selected EU countries. This outcome avoids the costly and lengthy process of developing, licensing and manufacturing new nuclear fuel packaging and has important commercial implications for early deployment of IMSR plants in key markets.

Packaging and transportation of nuclear reactor fuel are subject to strict regulatory requirements that ensure safety and protect property and the environment. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and regional governmental authorities have established regulations for the safe and secure handling of radioactive material. The regulations are administered in Canada by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), in the United States by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), in the United Kingdom by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), and in France by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN).

Orano and Terrestrial Energy completed this evaluation as part of a broad-scope agreement that includes services such as uranium enrichment, chemical conversion to IMSR fuel form, its production, transportation, packaging and logistics. The agreement is part of Terrestrial Energy’s multiple-sourcing strategy for IMSR fuel supply and reflects Orano’s intention to support next-generation reactor commercialization with its broad range of fuel services.

Orano-led Project to Receive $2.2 Million in Federal Funding to Reduce Waste from Advanced Nuclear Reactors

Funding part of Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program to lower waste burden; sustain future deployment of carbon-free nuclear power.

Orano Federal Services (FS) was selected to receive $2.2 million in project funding from the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The funding is part of the ARPA-E Optimizing Nuclear Waste and Advanced Reactor Disposal Systems (ONWARDS) program, which seeks to increase the deployment, and use of, nuclear power as a reliable source of clean energy and limit the amount of waste produced from Advanced Nuclear Reactors (AR).

Orano will develop a modular “plug and play” off-gas treatment unit tailored to the off-gases created when processing used nuclear fuel from different AR types, including metal fuel, TRISO fuel, and molten salt reactors’ liquid fuel. The treatment will be optimized to both efficiently capture regulated radioactive and non-radioactive off-gases, and to use treatment processes that themselves will only generate low-level waste suitable for either disposal or decay storage.

In this project, the industrial know-how of Orano and its principal investigator Dr. Sven Bader are combined with the state-of-the-art research and development performed by Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in off-gas treatment to design effective, efficient, and optimized off-gas treatment units required by regulation for AR used nuclear fuel treatment facilities.

Orano Submits HALEU Recommendations and Expert Perspective to the Department of Energy

RFI response highlights two primary challenges: development of flexible enrichment and deconversion technology, and HALEU demand certainty.

Orano USA submitted a detailed response to the 21 questions in the Department of Energy’s “Request for Information (RFI) Regarding Planning for Establishment of a Program to Support the Availability of High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) for Civilian Domestic Research, Development, Demonstration, and Commercial Use.”

Orano’s provided content and recommendations are based on the company’s six decades of experience operating its uranium conversion and enrichment facilities in France and providing nuclear material transportation packaging and services for international customers.

As detailed in the RFI response, a successful DOE approach will ensure that future HALEU fuel production is available when needed, provided in the variety of physical forms required by different reactor designs, and commercially cost-competitive.

The challenges to achieving this sustainable HALEU production are primarily centered on two concerns: 1) The development of conversion and enrichment technology that is both reliable and proven in operation, and 2) Addressing commercial investment risk by ensuring steady demand for a sufficient amount of HALEU production.

Driving these concerns is the potential situation where investors are reluctant to put money into advanced reactor construction without an established fuel supply, and fuel suppliers are equally unwilling to license and construct the necessary enrichment and deconversion capabilities until they have received commercial commitments that guarantee a certain volume of demand.

Orano’s assessment shows that the single most important factor enabling success is a firm and meaningful HALEU quantity commitment by DOE.

In the design of the public-private partnerships for HALEU production, Orano’s RFI response showed how technology risk should be borne primarily by industry in alignment with existing commercial expertise in enrichment, deconversion, packaging, and logistics.

With Orano’s significant market presence and decades of fulfilled contracts for uranium, conversion, and enrichment services in the United States, the company is fully committed to serving the needs of its customers and supporting the development of the advanced nuclear energy industry. As one of the only commercial entities integrated throughout the entire fuel cycle, Orano has the technical expertise to efficiently plan for and support all aspects of a HALEU supply chain, including production, storage, transportation and logistics.

Orano Providing Design and Fabrication Expertise for Team Developing World’s First Fast-spectrum Salt Reactor

Services include the design and fabrication of containers to transport fresh and used fuel and supporting the design and fabrication of the MCRE reactor vessel and subsystems.

As part of an announcement of an agreement between Southern Company and the U.S. Department of Energy to design, construct and operate the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment (MCRE), Orano will perform critical roles in the design and fabrication of the fuel salt containers transport packaging and of the reactor vessel and component subsystems.

Selected for funding under DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), the small reactor experiment will advance TerraPower’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) — a technology important to a sustainable clean energy future. Southern Company research and development (R&D) will lead the effort in a collaboration that includes TerraPower, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), CORE POWER, Orano, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and 3M Company. The team’s ongoing alliance with DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy through the ARDP is essential for delivering this key technology and will be supported by a five-year, $170 million cost-shared funding agreement.

Advanced nuclear energy is crucial to achieving many of our nation’s goals as a steady generator of good-paying jobs, economic growth, reliable clean-air electricity, and, especially with molten salt reactors, high-grade process heat and storage for industrial markets and decarbonizing commercial shipping.

Working with INL, the Orano team will help define and understand the requirements for developing fuel salt containers to securely transport the fresh and used nuclear fuel. The development of these fuel salt containers for MCRE taps into Orano’s decades of expertise designing and fabricating transport and storage containers for nuclear fuel for the U.S. fleet of existing light water reactors. The transport and dry storage of nuclear fuel has been performed safely for more than 50 years of commercial U.S. nuclear energy production.

Orano will also support the conceptual and preliminary designs and fabrication for portions of MCRE, which may include the shielding system, reactor coolant system, instrumentation and controls system, cover gas system, and fuel handling system, plus test components.

MCRE will be the world’s first chloride fast-spectrum, salt-fueled nuclear fission reactor to go critical, meaning that it is operating on a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. The project represents a significant inflection point in the technology demonstration road map for TerraPower’s MCFR, as the project will inform the design, licensing and operation of an MCFR demonstration reactor. An environmental review will be completed for the MCRE in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act before final design and construction begin.

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