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ANEEL™ Fuel Irradiation Begins in the Advanced Test Reactor at Idaho National Lab

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ANEEL™ fuel experiment capsules (CCTE-ANEEL-1A) being staged at Advanced Test Reactor

CHICAGO, April 01, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Clean Core Thorium Energy (Clean Core) announced today that the accelerated irradiation testing and qualification of their patented ANEEL™ Fuel is set to begin in the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The fuel, made of thorium and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), was developed by Clean Core for use in pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) and Canada deuterium uranium (CANDU) reactors. Its insertion into one of the US government’s premier material testing facilities represents a key milestone in the company’s multi-year, multimillion-dollar joint effort with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to design, fabricate, and assemble the irradiation experiment.

In 2022, Clean Core signed a Strategic Partnership Project Agreement with INL to design and execute an irradiation experiment in ATR to demonstrate and assess the performance of Clean Core’s innovative Advanced Nuclear Energy for Enriched Life (ANEEL™) fuel. As part of the agreement, INL received over 300 ANEEL™ fuel pellets fabricated by Texas A&M University’s Department of Nuclear Engineering under INL’s quality assurance requirements. Upon receipt, INL developed the irradiation test plan, performed pre-irradiation characterization of the fuel pellets, designed and fabricated the experiment hardware and test trains, assembled the test trains, and finally inserted the experiment into the ATR.

The CCTE-ANEEL-1A irradiation experiment will target levels of high-burnup which are currently unreachable by traditional CANDU and PHWR fuels in order to demonstrate the potential of the ANEEL™ fuel. This fuel has the capability to realize significantly improved performance within existing and proven heavy water systems by leveraging thorium’s inherently superior nuclear-thermal and physical properties. The resulting benefits include decreased life-cycle operating costs, reduced high-level waste volumes, increased safety margins, and proliferation resistance.

“We are pleased to be partnering with private sector companies, such as Clean Core, to apply INL’s unique expertise and capabilities in advanced fuels development and qualification to enable global U.S. leadership in nuclear energy,” said Dr. Jess Gehin, Associate Lab Director for INL’s Nuclear Science and Technology Directorate.

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Clean Core team with INL senior management (left to right): Milan Shah, Jess Gehin, Mehul Shah, Paul Chan, Steven Hayes, and Simon Pimblott

“Irradiating homogeneously blended thorium and uranium oxide in ATR is a first-of-a kind experiment for INL and the US DOE. We are excited to see the potential of the ANEEL fuel technology and what the future of this technology holds.” added Dr. Michael Worrall, a nuclear engineer at INL and Principal Investigator for the CCTE-ANEEL-1A experiment.

“Clean Core is focused on the efficient development and deployment of the ANEEL fuel in heavy water reactors, without any modifications to the fuel bundle geometry or the reactor. Given the advanced reactor benefits achieved, this fuel can play an important role in meeting the immediate need for clean base-load power globally,” says Mehul Shah, CEO and Founder of Clean Core. “The urgency of realizing such a vision becomes even more critical as time is lost in the face of an accelerating climate crisis.”

Irradiation of the CCTE-ANEEL-1A experiment in the ATR will begin in April 2024 to achieve burnup targets of up to 60 GWd/T. As each planned burn-up target is achieved, the test capsules containing irradiated ANEEL™ pellets will be sent to INL’s Materials and Fuels Complex for destructive and non-destructive post-irradiation examination (PIE).

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Clean Core management team and INL project team in front of the Advanced Test Reactor

About Clean Core Thorium Energy

Clean Core Thorium Energy is a nuclear fuel company exploring thorium-driven nuclear innovations. Clean Core’s patented nuclear fuel technology (called the ANEEL™ fuel) is comprised of thorium and high assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) and is capable of improving the safety and cost-efficiency of pressurized heavy-water reactors. The ANEEL™ fuel is a novel solution to safety, waste, and proliferation concerns in today’s nuclear plants. Learn more at https://cleancore.energy/. Follow us on social media: Linkedin and X.

About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation's center for nuclear energy research and development, celebrating 75 years of scientific innovations in 2024. The laboratory performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. For more information, visit www.inl.gov. Follow us on social media: FacebookInstagramLinkedIn and X.

Contact: milan@cleancore.energy

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