US NRC approves HALEU-TRISO transport system

17 January 2024

US-based NAC International has received approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its patented OPTIMUS-L packaging and transport system for High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) TRISO (TRI-structural ISOtropic) particle fuel, which will be used in advanced reactors. This is the first time NRC has licensed high-capacity packagings (more than 500 lb payload) for HALEU TRISO fuel in the US, paving the way for future licensing of NAC’s OPTIMUS systems to carry other HALEU contents.

The Certificate of Compliance (CoC) issued by NRC enables NAC with the Optimus-L system (packaging and contents) to transport HALEU TRISO fuel compacts to support an advanced reactor project for an undisclosed customer.

NAC says approval of high-capacity packaging systems for these types of fuel supports the development of a robust HALEU infrastructure to ensure material movement is not a limiting factor in modern nuclear power development. Compared with smaller capacity drum packages that would require an excessive number of packagings and significantly more handling effort per conveyance trailer, OPTIMUS-L offers a highly competitive solution to economically ship commercial quantities of HALEU materials with fewer packagings.

The OPTIMUS-L is a lightweight, versatile, and modular nuclear materials packaging system first licensed by the NRC in December 2021. NAC developed OPTIMUS as a platform that can be easily expanded and optimised for multiple types of nuclear materials using the company’s proprietary methodologies. NAC plans on leveraging this platform to include a range of HALEU forms and design configurations to support future HALEU material packaging and transportation projects.

“This amendment opens the door for other future HALEU contents in the OPTIMUS-L platform,” said Kent Cole, NAC President & CEO. “This certification is an important milestone on our HALEU packaging technology roadmap, and by offering efficient HALEU packaging and transportation, we are doing our part to help build a robust HALEU fuel cycle.”

While this license amendment supports an existing, confidential customer project, future amendments will be broader in scope and facilitate different types of HALEU transportation. NAC looks forward to expanding our collaboration with nuclear fuel suppliers, advanced reactor developers, and the industry in general to support packaging and transportation needs for advanced reactor development and commercialization.

Image: The Optimus-L packages (courtesy of NAC)

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