Nesca To Restart Pebble Bed Reactor Fuel Production

Citing strong interest from the United States and inquiries from Russia and Indonesia, the head of the South Africa Nuclear Energy Corporation (Nesca) said that it was working towards the restart of its pebble bed modular reactor fuel production by sometime next year.

Pebble Bed fuelWe are taking our PBMR fuel manufacturing and test laboratories out of care and maintenance,” said Chief Executive Officer Phumzile Tshelane at a news briefing late last week, Engineering News reported.

The testing and production capabilities once considered a domestic program, is to be geared towards and export market. “We have had inqueries from the United States, Indonesia and Russia,” Tshelane said.

Tshelane said preparing the laboratories for a restart would cost about $3.4 million and would be completed by sometime in 2018. “The plan is, once we are back creating and testing the fuel, to increase the amount we can produce to commercial levels … re-establish our capability and then go commercial,” he said. By the second half of 2018, he said, Necsa expects a confirmed order for PBMR fuel, which would constitute a go-ahead for commercial production.

He said the goal went beyond making money. It also involved keeping Necsa in the game regarding a technological production line in which the only current rival is China.

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