nuclear milestone
New fuel elements delivered by TRIGA International to Penn State University.
TRIGA International delivered new fuel elements to Penn State to help fuel its research reactor.
Kate Myers/PSU

TRIGA International recently delivered 30 new fuel elements to Penn State to help fuel its research reactor.

The shipment is the first of its kind in the world in more than a decade and restores an important fuel supply for TRIGA reactors around the world, including a dozen located at universities across the United States.

TRIGA Fuel Returns

TRIGA International is a joint venture between Framatome and General Atomics.

The company is the world’s only supplier of TRIGA fuel and restarted its fuel production last year following a major renovation project at its fabrication facility in Romans, France.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided nearly $16 million to help upgrade the facility and restore new fuel production for the 35 TRIGA reactors operating around the world, including 17 in the United States.

TRIGA International delivered its first batch of new fuel to University Park, PA on September 27. It’s the first new fuel shipment by the company since 2012 and will be used to help fuel Penn State’s Breazeale Reactor—the longest continuously operating university research reactor in the United States.

“This shipment of fuel represents DOE’s commitment to our university research reactors that are helping to train the future nuclear energy workforce,” said Dr. Kathryn Huff, assistant secretary for nuclear energy. “I’m also pleased to see this fuel support Penn State’s facility expansion and their new role as a Nuclear Science User Facilities partner helping to advance the nation’s nuclear R&D.”

“Penn State’s nuclear research enterprise continues to grow in new and exciting ways, and this new fuel supports that growth,” said Andrew Read, interim vice president for research at Penn State. “Through significant investments to the reactor that now allow simultaneous neutron beam operations, as well as a partnership through the Nuclear Science User Facilities program, the University is uniquely positioned to make significant advances in nuclear science, share our knowledge and educate the next generation of nuclear engineers.”

TRIGA fuel being unloaded at Penn State University
Delivered on Sept. 27, 2023, the shipment was the first of its kind in over a decade.
Kate Myers/PSU

TRIGA Reactors

TRIGA stands for Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics. There are 17 TRIGA reactors currently operating in the United States. Twelve of them are located at universities and are primarily used for training students, research projects, and isotope production.

DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy provides and coordinates the nuclear fuel elements for all U.S. university TRIGA reactors.

The Department expects to purchase more than 660 new fuel elements for TRIGA reactors in the United States, along with additional fuel for MARVEL — a new testing platform that will demonstrate microreactor operations and end-use applications at Idaho National Laboratory.