Cameco has entered a non-binding and non-exclusive Memorandum of Understanding with X-energy to explore possible areas of cooperation to support the potential future deployment, fuelling and servicing of Xe-100 small modular reactors (SMRs) in Canada and the USA.
“We feel very confident about the future of nuclear power and the future of SMRs, here in Canada, in the US and across the globe,” said Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel. “We intend to be a fuel supplier of choice for the emerging SMR and advanced reactor market and look forward to working with X-energy to see what opportunities might exist around their innovative reactor technology.”
“Cameco is a cornerstone of the Canadian nuclear industry and has global reach,” said Pete Pappano, President of TRISO-X, X-energy’s fuel fabrication subsidiary. “As X-energy works to bring the world’s first commercial advanced reactor to market in North America, we look forward to building a fruitful partnership that could provide a steady fuel supply for our technology in North America and support its deployment around the world.”
The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently awarded X-energy, under a prime contract, approximately $1.23 billion under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Programme (ARDP) to license, site, build and operate a commercial-scale advanced nuclear power plant based on the Xe-100 design with Energy Northwest by 2027, and to establish the commercial-scale TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility. The Xe-100 four-pack reactor plant is slated for operation in 2027.
In October 2020, Ontario Power Generation Inc. identified the Xe-100 as a potential technology for the Darlington New Nuclear Project (DNNP), which aims to have an SMR in operation as early as 2028. X-energy states it is currently advancing the Xe-100 design and engineering work with the utility.
Based on an economic benefits analysis conducted for X-energy by Hatch Ltd., X-energy estimates that the construction of a TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility in Canada would generate more than $310 million (CDN) in economic impact.
“At X-energy Canada, we’re partnering with the Canadian nuclear industry to create an SMR ecosystem that will grow with the developing large-scale deployment of our Xe-100 design – the ideal technology to advance Canada’s net-zero goals,” said Katherine Moshonas Cole, President, X-energy Canada. “We’re thrilled about the potential of this collaboration with Cameco, because it could increase the value of Canadian uranium to our domestic industry and create future export prospects.”
The Xe-100 is the catalyst to the world’s net-zero future. The Generation IV advanced reactor design builds on decades of High-Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) operation, research, and development. It is designed to operate as a standard 320 MWe four-pack power plant or be scaled in units of 80 MWe, as needed. The SMR is engineered to deliver reliable and load-following grid-scale power to electricity systems, pairing seamlessly with renewables. At 200 MWt of 565°C steam, the Xe-100 is also ideal for heavy industry, mining, petrochemical and other power applications.
Considered the most robust nuclear fuel on Earth by DOE, tri-structural isotropic particle fuel (commonly referred to as TRISO) is fast becoming the dominant nuclear fuel technology. X-energy’s proprietary fuel, TRISO-X, leverages more than 60 years of innovation that allows it to reach high temperatures without breakdown or melting, making the technology inherently walk-away safe.
Triso-X fuel (Photo credit: X-energy)