France and Germany begin development of uranium-molybdenum fuel

7 May 2020

FRM II research reactor (Photo Credit: Technical University of Munich)France’s Framatome and the Technical University of Munich have begun the commercial development of uranium-molybdenum fuel (UMo) for  research reactors.

Framatome and TUM will design and install the fuel manufacturing production line, and develop, produce and irradiate new fuel prototypes.

The project will take place at the CERCA Research and Innovation Lab (CRIL), Framatome’s new research and development laboratory dedicated to advancing the fabrication of nuclear fuels for medical, research and sterilisation applications.

“By producing this new fuel for TUM, Framatome allows research reactors to maintain performance while using low-enriched uranium,” said François Gauché, director of the CERCA Business Line at Framatome. “We look forward to advancing this fuel technology and developing a new fuel option for research reactors.”

The team will install the operational manufacturing line in early 2021 with the production of the first prototypes planned for 2022. TUM, Framatome, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission, the Institut Laue-Langevin and SCK-CEN (the Belgian nuclear research centre) will be involved in irradiation activities.

"TUM and Framatome’s collaboration on the development of this new fuel guarantees a reliable and efficient source of neutrons for research, industry and medicine,” said Professor Peter Müller-Buschbaum, scientific director of TUM's FRM II nuclear research reactor. “This fuel is an essential tool for the development of science in Germany.”

TUM, as operator of the neutron source Heinz Maier-Leibnitz (FRM II), participates in international fuel research with the aim of developing new nuclear fuels with higher uranium density to reduce the enrichment in fuel elements of high performance research reactors, such as the FRM II.

TUM’s working group “High-density nuclear fuels” focuses mainly on fuel development, fuel manufacturing and theoretical core modelling. The research of the working group  is financed by a joint funding of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with the Bavarian State Ministry for Science and the Arts (StMWK), as well as two HORIZON-2020 projects of the EU Commission (HERACLES-CP and LEU-FOREvER).

Photo: FRM II research reactor (Photo Credit: Technical University of Munich)

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