X-Energy subsidiary TRISO-X LLC, this week broke ground and began construction activities on North America’s first commercial-scale advanced nuclear fuel facility at a site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
The TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility (TF3) will be the genesis of future commercial-scale advanced nuclear energy innovation and deployment. It is expected more than 400 jobs will be created along with attracting an investment of approximately $300 million. TF3 is set to be commissioned and operational by 2025.
X-energy CEO Clay Sell called the TF3 groundbreaking a major milestone not only for X-energy and the nuclear industry, but also for Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and all of North America.
“Our TRISO-X facility groundbreaking in Oak Ridge is a monumental moment for advanced nuclear energy as we deliver on the critical promise to drive deep decarbonization across the planet,” said Sell.
X-energy is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Energy, East Tennessee and the Oak Ridge community.
""TF3 is well positioned to capitalize on its access to the area’s science and technology hubs to meet the growing domestic and global demand for TRISO-based fuel,” Sell said. “It’s our hope and belief that this groundbreaking and subsequent innovations here will catalyze the energy and industrial sectors to move further into the next generation of nuclear energy.”
Tri-structural isotropic (TRISO) particle fuel is considered the most robust nuclear fuel on the planet, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Dr. Pete Pappano, President of TRISO-X, explains X-energy manufactures its own proprietary version of TRISO to ensure supply, improve quality, and reduce costs. TRISO-X is a robust nuclear fuel that can withstand very high temperatures without melting, which is key to its safety.
“The fuel X-energy will produce at this Oak Ridge facility will build a more robust and secure nuclear energy supply chain—supporting the deployment of nuclear energy on a scale never seen before,” said Pappano.
In 2020, the DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) selected X-energy's reactor technology to receive initial funding as part of a $3.2 billion program to develop, build, and demonstrate operational advanced reactors by the end of the decade. The TRISO-X nuclear fuel produced in the Oak Ridge facility will be used in X-energy’s Xe-100 high-temperature gas reactors expected to be operational by 2028.
“TRISO-X will be the nation’s first commercial scale facility dedicated to fueling reactors that require high-assay low-enriched uranium TRISO particles,” said Dr. Kathryn Huff, Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy. “It’s a job creator and an advanced reactor enabler that will help fuel a transition to a net-zero economy.”
X-energy has a history of choosing Oak Ridge as the location for its nuclear innovation. In 2016, X-energy opened a pilot-scale nuclear fuel facility in Oak Ridge to further develop its TRISO-X fuel and support its Xe-100 reactor design. X-energy continues to evolve the proud nuclear tradition in Oak Ridge with the construction of its new TF3 facility and will continue to invest in the community by helping to create sustainable economic opportunities throughout the region.
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