By Chris Lewis, Sr. Project Manager Fuel Commercial & Customer Center, Framatome

Five years ago, I was assigned as a project manager for Framatome’s enhanced accident tolerant fuel (EATF) program. This is a project that I am really excited about, and I wanted to share why. I have worked at Framatome for more than 27 years in a variety of different roles and locations. In that time, I have worked on projects ranging from reactor core design and safety analyses to project management. However, my current project is shaping up to be one of the most memorable in my career.

The goal of our PROtect program is to develop enhanced nuclear fuel designs that would exhibit improved safety performance during accidents like the Fukushima incident in March 2011. Our industry is continuously developing new ways to minimize risk and enhance protective systems and attributes. In addition to continued support from the U.S. Department of Energy, European partners like CEA, which initially identified the suitable cladding coating, EDF, Goesgen Nuclear Power Plant in Switzerland, and leaders from across the nuclear sector have collaborated for several years on aspects of this fuel design.

From the beginning, the EATF project has been unique. The technologies we are pursuing and the progress achieved have been shared to allow for robust debate and discussion among industry experts. We have been very transparent with multiple facets of our PROtect program, not just with these industry experts, but also with our competitors and anyone else we can. This high-profile, DOE-sponsored project has challenged the industry, and while we all have our own ideas of how to best improve the industry, we are all committed to bringing safer, more reliable and more efficient fuel to nuclear plant operators around the globe.

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