The US Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) reported yesterday that coordination among the various entities involved in the development of accident-tolerant fuels (ATF) has “progressed to the point that all stakeholders now agree on the feasibility of a 2023 timeline”. Citing speakers at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) 12 April briefing on ATF, the NEI said US research, development and licensing frameworks “need to undergo a paradigm shift” to accelerate the way innovative nuclear technologies such as ATF are brought to market.

Accident-tolerant fuels have the potential to endure the loss of cooling in a reactor core for longer than current fuel designs and widen the existing safety margin for nuclear plants, NEI noted. They can also improve the performance of existing nuclear plants with longer-lasting fuel, and pave the way for licensing fuels for advanced reactors. The industry is currently working on different fuel designs from four primary vendors, it said. These are Framatome, Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), Westinghouse and Lightbridge.

NEI said the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) had concluded that these fuels potentially offer benefits both under normal operations and in various accident scenarios.

“Not only do they promise increased resistance to damage under accident conditions but there also is the potential to allow for more flexibility and efficiency during normal operations, which could bring economic benefits to operators,” NEI said.

View the full story at World Nuclear News.