3D safety components for nuclear reactors come to Richland

Framatome’s nuclear fuel manufacturing facility in Richland played a key role in the first-ever use of a 3D printed safety component in a commercial nuclear reactor.

Framatome collaborated with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to create the channel fasteners for stainless steel fuel assemblies that will be installed in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s 3,400MW Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Alabama, during its spring 2021 fueling outage.

The channel fasteners were printed at the Oakridge lab using additive-manufacturing techniques commonly referred to as 3D printing. They were installed on ATRIUM 10XM fuel assemblies at the Framatome facility in Richland.

The channel fasteners secure the fuel channel to the boiling water reactor assembly. The fuel channel wraps around the assembly to guide coolant flows up and through fuel rods.

Channel fasteners traditionally were fabricated from expensive castings that required precision machining.

“Our use of (3D) manufacturing techniques is a major advancement for Framatome and the nuclear energy industry,” said Ala Alzaben, senior vice president of the commercial and customer center of the fuel business unit for Framatome.

Framatome began using 3D manufacturing in nuclear fuel systems in 2015.

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