Centrus welcomes the manufacture of an ANEEL fuel sample

On December 14, US Centrus Energy Corp Chairman and CEO Daniel B Poneman congratulated Clean Core Thorium Energy and Texas A&M for making the first pellet samples of a next-generation nuclear fuel called ANEEL (Advanced Nuclear Energy for Enriched Life).

Centrus and Clean Core have worked together under a Memorandum of Understanding signed earlier this year to promote Clean Core’s advanced nuclear fuel, which will combine thorium with highly-dosed, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) produced by Centrus.

Based on more than 15 years of research and design, the new HALEU-Thorium ANEEL fuel is suitable for Candu reactors and other new and existing Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR). ANEEL can reduce the amount of waste produced in Candus / PHWR by over 80%, minimizing waste management costs and safety concerns, while providing non-proliferation benefits.

The largest fleet of such reactors is in Canada, where 19 PHWR Candu with a capacity of nearly 14 million kilowatts provide 15% of the country’s electricity, Centrus noted. Given that these reactors currently run on unenriched natural uranium, they would potentially represent a new market for Centrus as well as Clean Core Thorium Energy.

“The production of the first ANEEL test pellets is an important step in the development of this new advanced nuclear fuel,” said Poneman. “With a large fleet of PHWR reactors already in operation in Canada and elsewhere, ANEEL could both accelerate and increase initial demand for HALEU over the next several years. We value our partnership with Clean Core to support the commercialization of ANEEL and look forward to the opportunity to become their long-term HALEU supplier.

Mehul Shah, CEO of Clean Core Thorium Energy, said: “Working with Centrus Energy to promote our advanced nuclear fuel ANEEL will help bring clean and reliable energy within reach of emerging countries that need it. Our innovative technology using thorium and HALEU offers significant cost savings, safety and non-proliferation benefits for CANDU / PHWR type nuclear power plants.

Clean Core plans to test and qualify ANEEL fuel at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) next year and plans to bring the fuel to market by the end of 2024. The Center for Nuclear Science and Engineering Texas A&M University manufactured the ANEEL fuel samples under quality requirements and under the supervision of the INL.

As part of the memorandum of understanding signed earlier this year, Clean Core and Centrus are working together to promote the use of advanced nuclear fuel ANEEL in Candu reactors around the world, as well as other PHWRs. While the initial test pellets manufactured by Texas A&M use a small amount of HALEU supplied by INL, Clean Core Thorium Energy plans to use Centrus’ HALEU for commercial scale production of ANEEL fuel.

Under a three-year contract signed with the US Department of Energy in 2019, Centrus is building the first HALEU production line under license from NRC in Piketon, Ohio. Centrus said it has reached all stages of the contract to date and is continuing to work under the contract.

Photo: Advanced nuclear fuel pellets produced by Texas A&M University. Source: Clean Core Thorium Energy

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