AREVA announced, 17 October, that it has been awarded new contract to supply 62 low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel elements to Research Reactor MARIA in Poland. The assemblies will “secure the reactor future” by allowing conversion of the reactor from high-enriched uranium (HEU) to LEU use.
The contract builds on successful collaboration started in 2010, AREVA said. Under the auspice of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)'s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), a first agreement was signed between the Polish National Centre for Nuclear Research and AREVA for the manufacturing of suitable LEU fuel for MARIA Research Reactor. Two LEU prototypes were successfully loaded into the research reactor core to start the conversion process.
After the good performance of the prototypes, which ended in 2010, and thanks to the active contribution of the GTRI, a first contract was then signed in 2011 between NCBJ, Battelle Energy Alliance LLC and AREVA CERCA for the delivery of the first 25 standard LEU fuel elements to MARIA research reactor.
The first LEU fuel assemblies were delivered in 2012 and the initial loading into the MARIA core took place in September, achieving a key milestone in the research reactor conversion process.
“After two years of careful testing of the new fuel assemblies specifically developed for the MARIA research reactor by AREVA CERCA; we have awarded AREVA with this new contract as AREVA CERCA demonstrated they had the key competences and expertise required for this challenging task. We are pleased that this successful collaboration continues on this project," commented Grzegorz Wrochna, Director of NCBJ.