Framatome and EDF to test PROtect fuel in French reactor

5 July 2023

Framatome has signed a collaboration agreement with EDF to begin reactor tests of its enhanced accident tolerant fuel (EATF) technology at a French NPP. Framatome will manufacture and deliver four lead fuel assemblies (LFAs) that will be inserted in one of the EDF’s reactors in 2023 as part of its PROtect EATF programme.

Supported by the French Recovery Plan and the US Department of Energy (DOE), Framatome’s EATF technology is based on advanced chromium coating applied to zirconium alloy cladding, and chromia-enhanced fuel pellets. The technology is designed to improve safety for NPP operators in case of an unlikely event, while also improving fuel performance during normal operations.

Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice president of the Framatome Fuel Business Unit, said the PROtect programme “puts us at the forefront of developing and implementing inherently safe fuel technologies for long-term plant operations.” He added that the agreement with EDF agreement “cements our position and confirms the confidence of our customers in our EATF technology, developed together with the knowledge, skills and expertise of our partners and leaders across the nuclear sector”.

Framatome, EDF and France’s Atomic Energy Commission (CEA - Commissariat à l'énergie Atomique et aux énergies Alternatives) have worked together on chromium coated cladding for nearly a decade. Framatome’s development efforts led to the first lead fuel rods inserted in a Swiss and US reactor in 2019. This was followed by the first complete fuel assembly comprising 100% chromia-enhanced pellets and chromium-coated rods delivered and inserted at a US NPP in the spring outage of 2021, and the recent completion of the second 18-month fuel cycle in a US operating plant. To date Framatome’s PROtect EATF solutions have been implemented in four different NPPs in the US and one in Europe.

The LFAs will be manufactured at Framatome facilities in France. Results from the EDF irradiation campaign will be used to confirm the performance of the technology in a French reactor and to support the final approval from the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (French Nuclear Safety Authority).

Currently, Framatome, GE Hitachi with GNF, and Westinghouse - are working with the US Department of Energy to develop new fuels under its Accident Tolerant Fuel programme. Westinghouse and EDF agreed in July 2022 to investigate the functionalities of Westinghouse's EnCore ATF technology. Westinghouse plans to study use of the fuel in an EDF reactor with a view to potential deployment across the EDF nuclear fleet after 2030. Westinghouse said earlier that it would deliver EnCore assemblies with lead test rods to EDF from its fuel fabrication facility in Västerås, Sweden, during 2023.

Image: Fuel assembly with enhanced accident tolerant fuel technology (courtesy of Framatome)

Privacy Policy
We have updated our privacy policy. In the latest update it explains what cookies are and how we use them on our site. To learn more about cookies and their benefits, please view our privacy policy. Please be aware that parts of this site will not function correctly if you disable cookies. By continuing to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy unless you have disabled them.