Progress Edition

Framatome: Positioned for the next evolution of nuclear fuel

Courtesy Framatome

Jersey Nuclear was formed, initiating the process to build what serves as Framatome’s nuclear fuel fabrication facility, on Aug. 1, 1969 – 12 days after astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the famous words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The Richland facility was established during an expansive boom in the region’s nuclear energy sector — an industry in which the area remains rich today. At the time, Jersey Nuclear planned for the $5 million Horn Rapids Road facility to become a major supplier of nuclear fuel to U.S. nuclear plant operators. That plan continues today as Framatome celebrates the site’s 50th anniversary in Richland.

As we share our rich heritage of innovation and technologies, we are also celebrating Framatome’s future. This is an exciting time for the Richland site as our golden anniversary will be marked by several firsts for our facility and the nuclear industry as a whole.

Next generation of products

This year marked a major milestone in our PROtect enhanced accident tolerant fuel (EATF) program. In January, we delivered full-length, chromium-coated rods loaded with chromia-enhanced pellets – a first in the industry – to a U.S. customer. This effort was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) accident tolerant fuel program, and we are currently working on contracts with other customers to further advance and test our concepts. In addition, we recently received a grant from the DOE for $49 million to continue to accelerate our research as part of a larger $111 million award to the industry.

The EATF delivery marked the first of three major projects Framatome will execute this year. We will deliver our initial reload of fuel for Arizona’s Palo Verde Unit 2, one of the largest reactors in the U.S. We will also manufacture our first reload of ATRIUM™11 fuel, our most advanced boiling water reactor (BWR) fuel design.

We continue to build momentum on new fuel designs and concepts. Last year, we announced our joint venture with Lightbridge Corp., “Enfission,” to bring Lightbridge’s unique metallic fuel design to market — work that is ongoing at our Richland facility. We also continue to support NuScale Power as it pushes forward with a small modular reactor design.

In addition to the research and development of new technologies, Framatome is encouraged by the recent dialogue and actions taken between state and federal government entities. These activities demonstrate the value our lawmakers place on nuclear power and their commitment to carbon-free energy.

Investing in our future

To ensure we can continue to support the existing fleet of nuclear operators and meet the needs of our customers, we continuously upgrade our facility, with nearly $10 million in investments planned this year.

Framatome also remains committed to investing in our future workforce and preparing students for a career in the nuclear industry. We continue to sponsor area outreach initiatives and partnerships, with particular emphasis on supporting STEM education. We also headlined our third-annual Careers in Manufacturing workshop. This collaboration with several local partners reached more than 900 area students last year, showing them what a local manufacturing career could look like.

What’s next?

Each year brings new opportunities and new challenges. As we embark on a year of firsts and one of our biggest production years in history, we have positioned ourselves for the next evolution in the nuclear fuel industry. Just as importantly, we have remained committed to improving our community and educating students who could one day be a part of our workforce.

Thank you to all who have supported Framatome and have been a part of our success for the past 50 years. Here is to 50 more in this great community.