Terrestrial Energy has signed a manufacturing and supply contract with Westinghouse subsidiary Springfields Fuels Ltd. The deal covers the design and construction of an Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) fuel pilot plant. Springfields' reactor fuel manufacturing site in the UK’s Preston has the necessary infrastructure to develop the IMSR fuel and can scale that to support a fleet of IMSR plants operating in the 2030s.
Under the terms of the contract a pilot plant will be developed in advance of a scaled-up facility for commercial reactor fuel supply. The UK Government has committed £2.9mn (US$3.8mn) to establish the pilot plant under its Nuclear Fuel Fund. The contract is a result of partnership between Terrestrial Energy, Westinghouse Springfields Fuels and UK National Nuclear Laboratories. The Gen IV IMSR will use conventional nuclear reactor fuel – Standard Assay Low Enriched Uranium (LEU).
Terrestrial Energy completed an evaluation of packaging and cross-border transportation of Standard Assay LEU fuel in November 2022. This work demonstrated that existing reactor fuel packaging used to service the nuclear industry is suitable for the transportation and supply of IMSR fuel. This outcome avoids the costly and lengthy process of designing, licensing and manufacturing new nuclear fuel packaging.
“Our commercial strategy for IMSR is to use existing nuclear industrial infrastructure, materials, skills and capabilities to the greatest extent in the operation of the IMSR plant,” said Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy. “This strategy, focused on capital efficiency, is clearly expressed with the use of Standard Assay LEU fuel, and repurposing of the extensive fuel production capabilities at the Springfields site.”
Image: Aerial view of the Westinghouse Springfields facility in Lancashire, England