US-based Clean Core Thorium Energy has announced its new strategic partnership agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) for the testing of Clean Core’s innovative fuel for nuclear power plants. The announced agreement details next steps for irradiation testing and qualification in Idaho National Laboratory’s (INL’s) Advanced Test Reactor of Clean Core’s advanced nuclear fuel, marking a major milestone in the commercialisation of thorium-based energy.

Advanced Nuclear Energy for Enriched Life (ANEEL) is a proprietary fuel technology using a combination of thorium and high-assay low-enriched uranium (Haleu) to enhance the performance of Candu reactors and other pressurised heavy-water reactor designs. Proliferation-resistant ANEEL fuel will decrease the operating costs of Candu and pressurised heavy-water reactors while significantly reducing the volume of high-level waste generated.

INL expects to begin testing of the ANEEL fuel in their Advanced Test Reactor by the end of 2022 or early 2023. Clean Core, in partnership with Texas A&M University and INL, completed the fabrication of the ANEEL fuel pellets under INL’s quality assurance requirements. The pellets are ready to be inserted into a testing assembly.

“This strategic partnership with the Department of Energy for the first-of-its-kind thorium-based nuclear fuel marks a major milestone in the development and commercialisation of this new technology,” said Mehul Shah, Founder and CEO of Clean Core. “Our fuel holds tremendous promise for making nuclear power plants more economical while improving accident-tolerance.”

Concurrently with fuel testing at INL, Clean Core will complete performance and safety assessments and a demonstration irradiation of full-size fuel assemblies in a Candu reactor with partners in Canada. Clean Core expects to have ANEEL fuel assemblies producing carbon-free power in commercial CANDU reactors by the end of 2025.