March 7, 2023 – Framatome announced today the completion of the first fabricated TRIGA metallic fuel element in over a decade. This marks a pivotal achievement in the relaunch of the fuel supply for continued operations of TRIGA research reactors in the U.S. and abroad. TRIGA International, a joint venture between Framatome and General Atomics, will ramp up fuel manufacturing to power U.S. TRIGA research reactors with support from the Department of Energy (DOE).
“We celebrate this important milestone with our partners as we collectively advance nuclear research and support our industry’s skilled workforce for today and in the future,” said François Gauché, vice president of CERCA at Framatome and president of TRIGA International. “Training and research reactors play a significant role in the evolution of nuclear energy and in the development of future generations of nuclear engineers and researchers. We are proud to supply safe and reliable fuel for the research reactor.”
In response to the U.S. Office of Nuclear Energy’s goal to maintain world-class research and development capabilities, Framatome relaunched its dedicated TRIGA manufacturing facility at CERCA Romans, France. After completing the $80 million modernization project, operations resumed for the first time since 2012.
Teams from TRIGA International and CERCA presented this fuel element to the DOE in presence of General Atomics on December 7, 2022. TRIGA is a nuclear reactor model designed by General Atomics that is used for research and hands-on training activities. TRIGA type fuel designs are now being explored for new applications beyond university training. The unique properties of TRIGA fuel can be seamlessly transitioned to non-TRIGA plants such as small modular, micro or advanced reactors.
Framatome and General Atomics created the TRIGA International SAS joint venture in 1995 to market TRIGA fuel elements manufactured at CERCA Romans. More than 66 TRIGA units have been built around the world and approximately 38 reactors are still in operation.
Framatome CERCA is the world’s unique manufacturer and supplier of uranium-zirconium hydride fuel for use in TRIGA type research reactors.