X-energy, a Greenbelt-based nuclear engineering company, recently convened a group of world-renowned nuclear experts to discuss best-practices in pebble fuel fabrication. X-energy will use the spherical elements to fuel their Xe-100 gas-cooled nuclear reactor in the mid-2020s.
The Xe-100 will benefit from decades of research and safe operation in pebble-bed reactors internationally, and X-energy plans to bring the remarkable features and benefits of pebble fuel to the United States for the first time.
The Xe-100 is a small-sized pebble-bed High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor (HTGR). An HTGR uses gas in the core instead of water and thousands of pebbles fill the reactor core, forming a bed. Graphite pebbles encompass thousands of ceramic-coated TRISO fuel particles. A single reactor can produce 50MWe - enough power for 50,000 homes with zero carbon emissions. The Xe-100 is designed to be ultra-safe, small-scale, and able to respond in real-time to fluctuating grid demands.
Conference attendees represented over 160 years of combined experience in pebble-bed reactor projects around the world, spanning the AVR and HTGR reactors in West Germany, PBMR in South Africa, and the HTR-10 currently in operation in China.
Mike Kania, nuclear fuel consultant and conference attendee, said: “Pebbles are a remarkable nuclear fuel source: a completely self-contained, ultra-safe package that can be added in during active operation – effectively eliminating refueling shutdowns. This time-tested pebble technology has enormous potential to expand safe, zero-emission nuclear energy worldwide.”
Doug McCuistion, X-energy Chief Operating Officer, said: “We are so grateful to have such an impressive gathering of international pebble fuel experts to share their insights and experiences as we develop the Xe-100. X-energy leverages decades of safe operation in pebble-bed reactors to make a significant contribution to our nation’s vital carbon reduction goals.”
Learn more about the Xe-100 and pebble reactor fuel