US-based X-energy has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Nuclear Fuel Industries, Ltd. (NFI) of Japan that establishes a partnership on the supply of tristructural isotropic (TRISO) nuclear fuel fabrication equipment.

The equipment will be installed in X-energy’s planned TRISO-X Commercial Fuel Fabrication Facility. X-energy and NFI will begin planning the transfer of commercial-scale equipment from NFI’s Tokai Works facility to X-energy’s Oak Ridge TRISO fuel fabrication facility. The study is scheduled to begin this year and includes the discussion of fuel kernel production, TRISO fuel compacts production and uranium recovery equipment – which have actually been used for the production of fuel in prismatic high-temperature gas-cooled reactors in Japan.

“Advanced reactors are the bridge to our energy future and our TRISO-X Facility will be a key enabler for deployment of the advanced reactor industry,” said X-energy’s vice president of fuel production Pete Pappano. “X-energy’s pilot fuel facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory is complete and fully operational. We now turn our focus to completing the design, financing, and licensing of our TRISO-X Commercial Fuel Fabrication Facility, scheduled to begin commercial-scale fuel production in the 2023-2024 timeframe,” Pappano added.

TRISO coated fuels feature multi-layer encapsulation of uranium, which provides increased safety and proliferation resistance as well as functional containment. X-energy says its high-temperature gas-cooled pebble bed reactors require less time to construct, use factory-produced components, cannot melt down, and are "walk-away" safe without operator intervention.