Chicago-based Clean Core Thorium Energy (CCTE) has extended its collaboration with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) on its ANEEL fuel technology. CNL has approved a Clean Core submitted proposal, “Advanced Nuclear Energy for Enriched Life (ANEEL) CNSC Licensing Verification and Validation,” as a proposed project managed under the Canadian Nuclear Research Initiative (CNRI) Programme. CNL will work with Clean Core to further establish scope and timeline.

The fuel is made of thorium and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), developed for use in pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) and Canada deuterium uranium (Candu) reactors. Clean Core says the fuel can offer significantly improved performance with existing proven heavy water reactor systems by leveraging thorium’s inherently superior nuclear, thermal and physical properties. It also retains the same external dimensions and configuration design as in currently used natural uranium (NU) fuel bundles. “Without any significant modifications to the reactor, the replacement of the currently used NU fuel bundles with Clean Core’s ANEEL fuel bundles can reduce life-cycle operating costs and waste volumes, increase safety and accident tolerance, and result in additional proliferation resistance,” the company notes. Clean Core completed initial design studies, and in April, announced the successful conclusion of the Phase 1 Pre-licensing Vendor Design Review process with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.

Clean Core said it understands that successfully completed design studies are an essential part of the licensing process. This involves the verification and validation of the computer codes and analytical models employed in the design and safety analysis. The collaboration between CNL and Clean Core has the potential to enable accelerated evaluation of advanced solutions for heavy-water reactors, which could critically enable their improved economic operation.

“Clean Core recognises this as an opportunity of accelerating their ANEEL fuel programme by leveraging the existing domain expertise at CNL and the development and assessment of various fuel, physics and thermohydraulic models,” said Mehul Shah, CEO & Founder of Clean Core.

Clean Core also recently signed a Strategic Partnership Project Agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and has begun irradiation testing and qualification in the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Labs aiming to achieve planned burnup targets of up to 60 GWd per tonne. Clean Core has been in partnering and engaging with key industry players including regulators, utilities, and suppliers with the aim of achieving commercialisation of the ANEEL fuel by 2026.

Image: Clean Core’s nuclear fuel bundle made from Thorium and HALE (courtesy of Clean Core Thorium Energy)