Framatome recently received a $49 million, 28-month grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to accelerate the development and commercialization of enhanced accident tolerant fuel (EATF). These fuel designs enhance performance during normal operations at nuclear power plants and provide operators with more time to respond in the event of loss of active cooling.
“EATF designs represent the next evolution in technologies that will support today’s and tomorrow’s nuclear reactors and unlock value in Framatome’s products and the existing nuclear fleet,” said Bob Freeman, vice president, Contracts and Services, North America, Framatome Fuel Commercial and Customer Center. “With the support of DOE, Congress and our industry partners, we are ahead of schedule in making this fuel technology available to nuclear power plants so that they can continue to provide clean, efficient electricity.”
Framatome is developing both near- and long-term EATF solutions for all types of nuclear power plants. The integrated near-term solution incorporates both chromia-enhanced pellets and chromium-coated cladding. These fuel pellets and clad coating have characteristics that, when combined with other recent advancements, will deliver value to the existing fleet of reactors through a variety of measures, including operator flexibility and fuel efficiency.
In addition to this near-term work, Framatome continues research on a silicon carbide-based cladding with even greater potential. The ongoing research and development of these state-of-the-art materials and related manufacturing processes are critical to safe, clean and more efficient power generation.
The funds from this DOE grant build on a $10 million, two-year grant that Framatome received from the Department in 2016, and will contribute to the advancement of laboratory testing and data collection, as well as irradiation test programs. Additionally, the grant will support further development of advanced manufacturing processes and the acceleration of long-term EATF solutions, including silicon carbide fuel cladding.
Framatome’s EATF program is built on the collective knowledge, skills and expertise of leaders across the global nuclear sector, including U.S. national laboratories, utilities, university programs, industry organizations, and European research and worldwide partners. DOE’s accident tolerant fuel program has been a driving force in Framatome’s efforts to accelerate product development to better support the existing nuclear fleet. These additional funds are possible because of the recognition by Congress over the past two fiscal years of the importance of this program.