An important milestone for the nuclear industry is taking place in Georgia and it’s not the one you might think. When it comes to innovation, it’s easy to think of new plant construction or advanced reactor technology, but the industry also is on the path to beating its own timeline for developing accident tolerant fuel (ATF)—one of several new technologies that will help our current fleet achieve more efficiency.
When a fuel assembly is completed at our Richland fuel manufacturing facility, it goes into a storage room we call the “forest.” At a facility that churns out more than 2,000 fuel assemblies each year, having fuel assemblies hang like trees suspended from the ceiling, awaiting insertion into shipping containers, is an ordinary occurrence.
Every day, more than 400 employees pass through the doors at Framatome’s fuel fabrication facility in Richland, Wash., to oversee the safe, high-quality and on-time manufacturing and delivery of our world-class fuel products. But one employee, Destinee Rea [Ceramics Process Engineer], comes to work for something extra special.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) has awarded $111.2 million to three industry partners to develop Accident Tolerant Fuels (ATF). General Electric (GE), Westinghouse (WEC), and Framatome received the financial assistance awards in late 2018 with FY18 and FY19 funding.
Time is everything. Especially when you are preventing a potential accident of any kind. In the nuclear energy arena, enhanced accident tolerant fuel (EATF) started with this in mind. In the quest to make this powerful, efficient, and safe form of energy ever safer, a lot of people in the industry were asking the question – how do we give ourselves more time to react in the unlikely scenario of an accident in the nuclear reactor?