May 15, 2020

Framatome wins contract to fuel Holtec’s small modular reactor

Framatome is further expanding its presence in the small modular reactor (SMR) market after being awarded a contract to provide fuel for Holtec International’s SMR‑160 design. Holtec will use GAIA, Framatome’s most advanced pressurized water reactor (PWR) fuel design, manufactured at the fuel fabrication facility located in Richland, Wash.

“Our global team is thrilled to bring our decades of fuel experience to support the development of Holtec’s new SMR design,” said Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice president, Fuel Business Unit at Framatome. “That expertise, combined with our proven and commercially available GAIA fuel, will help to significantly speed up the development and licensing of Holtec’s reactor design.”


Framatome signed a similar contract in 2015 with NuScale to manufacture fuel for its 50MWe SMR design using the HTP fuel design.


Framatome’s GAIA fuel design allows Holtec to benefit from the fuel-related operational experience gained from the existing light water reactor fleet, and significantly reduces the first‑of-a-kind engineering needed for the SMR-160 fuel system. Holtec will also gain access to an existing and robust nuclear fuel supply chain. Similar to fuel transitions, this contract requires substantial engineering and analysis to configure our fuel with Holtec’s core design.


Framatome developed its GAIA fuel to optimize reactor performance and to ensure high safety margins under the increasingly demanding operating conditions of PWRs including capacity uprates and extensions on fuel cycle lengths of up to 24 months.


The GAIA fuel design offers electric utilities cost savings through efficient debris filtering as well as improved thermal performance and fuel utilization. In addition, GAIA uses advanced M5 zirconium alloy cladding, which offers superior margins and meets anticipated changes in U.S. nuclear regulatory requirements.


Holtec’s SMR-160 is a light water-based, pressurized small modular reactor design which generates 160 MWe (525 MWth) and relies upon simple and passive systems to achieve aggressive safety goals and economic performance. The SMR-160 has been developed by Holtec and its subsidiary companies.