Russia’s TVEL seeks to sell fuel assemblies to US

7 June 2016

Russia Fuel Company TVEL (part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom) hopes that first pilot assemblies of Russian TVS-Kvadrat fuel will be loaded into a reactor in the US in 2018, TVEL vice president for commerce and international cooperation Oleg Grigoriev told journalists at the International Forum ATOMEXPO 2016 in Moscow on 30 May. Full-scale manufacturing is expected to begin in 2020. This follows an agreement announced on 24 May between TVEL and Global Nuclear Fuel Americas (GNF-A) to work together to introduce Russian-designed pressurised water reactor fuel into the USA.

They plan to introduce lead use assemblies (LUAs) of TVEL's TVS-K fuel design in the USA and to seek licensing approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to supply the fuel in reload quantities. TVS-K is a 17x17-lattice PWR nuclear fuel assembly developed by TVEL for use in Westinghouse-designed 3- and 4-loop PWRs. It draws on TVEL's experience in the development, manufacture and operation of nuclear fuel for Russian-designed VVER-1000 reactors. Grigoriev told Atomexpo delegates that TVEL sees good prospects in the US market. "We hope that a share of commercial deliveries of TVS-Kvadrat will be more than 10% of the current US market volume for this type of fuel," he said.

GNF, a GE-led joint venture with Hitachi and Toshiba Corporation, operates primarily through GNF-A in Wilmington and Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan Co in Kurihama, Japan. Rosatom has since 1987 supplied the US with low-enriched uranium (LEU) that is then prepared for use in power plants. GNF hopes that US utilities would be able to use the TVS-K assemblies at about a third of the USA's 99 reactors.

"We are covering about 20% of the US enriched uranium market now," Rosatom First Deputy Chief Executive Officer Kirill Komarov said in an interview in Moscow on 30 May. "I think we are capable enough to take a comparable share of the new market" for assemblies. Rosatom currently has long-term uranium delivery contracts with US ?entrus Energy Corp as well as with utilities including NextEra Energy Resources and Exelon Generation Company.

"Rosatom isn't targeted by sanctions -- neither formally nor in practice," he said. The first contracts for Russia-produced sample supplies (LUAs), are possible in the "coming months" but everything will depend on US regulators, Komarov said. The fuel could later be produced jointly at GE's facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. Komarov declined to comment on what stake Rosatom may get in any future US joint venture, adding that "sensitive" uranium enrichment will stay in Russia while the final fabrication of nuclear fuel could be moved to Wilmington.



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