GAIA EATF assembly (Photo credit: Framatome)Framatome said on 15 December it had secured a new four-year cooperative agreement and the US Department of Energy (DOE) valued at more than $150 million to continue development of its PROtect enhanced accident tolerant fuel (EATF) technology.

The agreement supports work to extend fuel cycle design and licensing methodologies, as well as fabrication capabilities needed to increase burnup and enrichment limits for fuel products. 

These efforts support DOE's goals to drive rapid adoption of accident tolerant fuel technology, offering operators enhanced efficiency and reliability for safe, low carbon electricity generation. Funding support from DOE, along with access to the national laboratories technical complex, has significantly expedited the advancement of PROtect EATF technologies. 

“With support from the DOE and our industry partners, we are accelerating the development and deployment of PROtect EATF technologies to enhance the safety and operating efficiency of today's nuclear energy plants,” said Ala Alzaben, senior vice president of the Commercial and Customer Centre for Framatome's Fuel Business Unit. “Our speed to market with a successful PROtect EATF technology reflects the strength and effectiveness of our team. We innovate and industrialise the next-generation fuel technologies as part of our commitment to the future of safe and low carbon nuclear energy generation.” 

Through Framatome's PROtect EATF programme, near-term solutions are currently operating in five commercial reactors. These lead test assemblies contain uranium dioxide or uranium chromia-enhanced fuel pellets. Fuel cladding for pressurised water reactors (PWR) have chromium coated zirconium alloy cladding, and boiling water reactors use another type of innovative coating on Zircaloy-2 cladding adapted to the specific BWR conditions.

These products are designed to deliver additional safety and economic benefits to plant operators. In parallel, Framatome is continuing development on a longer-range EATF concept to advance a metallic lined silicon carbide (SiC) PWR cladding to achieve even greater benefits.

GAIA EATF assembly (Photo credit: Framatome)