The SMR-160 small modular reactor (Photo: Holtec International)US-based Holtec International has chosen Framatome as nuclear fuel supplier for the SMR-160 small modular reactor.

The two companies have entered into an agreement enabling all necessary engineering to fuel the SMR-160 with Framatome's 17×17 GAIA fuel assembly.

"By adapting the SMR-160 to utilise standard pressurised water reactor fuel in its core design, Holtec has substantially eliminated risks associated with nuclear fuel ensuring fuel-related operating experience from the current light water reactor fleet…is relevant to our reactor," Holtec said in a statement.

The inclusion of Framatome in the SMR-160 programme also ensures prospective SMR-160 plant owners will have "ready access to a robust international fuel supply chain," it added.

Framatome initially developed its GAIA PWR fuel assembly design to ensure optimal performance and high safety margins, including increases in burnup, lower neutron leakage, cycle lengths of up to 24 months, and challenging water chemistry conditions.

“We’re excited to offer our proven products and fuel expertise to Holtec in support of their effort to develop and license the SMR-160 with maximum speed,” said Gary Mignogna, president and CEO of Framatome in North America.

The SMR-160, developed by Holtec and its subsidiary companies, is a 160MWe (525MWt) small modular reactor that leverages simple and passive safety systems.  Holtec is working with partners Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, SNC-Lavalin, and Exelon Generation to refine the design.

The SMR-160 is also being considered in Ukraine. Last year Holtec International, nuclear operator Energoatom and Ukraine's State Scientific and Technology Centre (SSTC) entered into a partnership to advance the SMR-160 for deployment in Ukraine.

Photo: The SMR-160 small modular reactor (Credit: Holtec International)