TRIGA International recently completed a major renovation project at its fuel fabrication facility in Romans, France. The upgrades ensure the continued operation of 36 TRIGA reactors around the world, including 18 in the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy provided both technical and financial support for the project.
TRIGA International is the only supplier of TRIGA fuel in the world. The company’s French facility required significant upgrades in order to keep up with current safety regulations. The facility was taken offline in 2014 to begin a seven-year, $80 million renovation project.
DOE provided nearly $16 million in support of the facility upgrades. The National Nuclear Security Administration provided $5 million in initial funding to perform feasibility studies and assist with the design, installation and removal of equipment. The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) provided more than $10 million starting in 2015 to complete the work in order to get the production line up and running.
Renovations were recently completed in March 2021 and the company is now waiting on approval from the French regulator before the production of fuel can begin.
TRIGA stands for Training, Research, Isotopes General Atomics. The reactors are primarily used, as the name suggests, for training students, various research projects and isotope production.
There are 18 TRIGA reactors operating in the United States. Twelve of them are located at universities across the nation. DOE manages all of the nuclear fuel that is provided to these reactors through its Research Reactor Infrastructure program within NE.
“Without these upgrades to the TRIGA International facility, the TRIGA reactors at these universities would be forced to shut down without a dependable supply of fuel,” said Doug Morrell, the manager for the Research Reactor Infrastructure program. “Thanks to the support of DOE, our universities can continue conducting research and training our future nuclear energy workforce.”
DOE provided 76 lightly used TRIGA fuel elements to U.S. research reactors during the renovation period to help meet immediate TRIGA fuel needs. DOE plans to order its first 55 new elements later this year. New fuel elements are expected to be available by the end of the year.
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