US companies X-Energy and Centrus Energy Corp announced on 6 September that they had signed a memorandum of understanding to explore collaboration toward the production of fuel for advanced nuclear reactors. X-energy, which focuses on advanced reactors and fuel, and Centrus, an experienced nuclear fuel technology company, will work toward the development of a fuel fabrication facility. 

The facility would provide fuel to X-energy reactors and advanced nuclear reactor companies around the world based on uranium oxycarbide (UCO) tristructural isotropic (TRISO) fuel. Under the MOU, the companies will jointly prepare a deployment plan for X-energy’s TRISO fuel technology; design a cost-effective, highly automated fuel manufacturing process line; and seek funding for a future commercial fuel production facility.

X-energy CEO Dr  Kam Ghaffarian said: “X-energy is focused on both our high-temperature gas-cooled reactor development and the fuel needed to power our reactors. The Department of Energy has spent close to $400m in developing and qualifying the UCO TRISO particle in preparation for advanced reactor commercialisation. X-energy, in partnership with Centrus and taking advantage of its domestic enrichment experience and engineering know-how, is anxious to evaluate how we can together move UCO TRISO into final fuel form production, benefitting many in the industry.”

Centrus Energy president and CEO Daniel Poneman said the company’s technical and engineering teams were eager to help X-energy develop the TRISO fuel. “We agree that American leadership in the global nuclear market requires that we develop an end-to-end domestic capability, from high-assay low-enriched uranium enrichment through fuel production, for next-generation reactors.”