Fuel fabrication facilities that produce uranium fuel for commercial use in nuclear power plants are currently licensed to possess and use special nuclear material, including uranium with an enrichment level of up to 5 weight percent uranium-235 (U-235). New fuel designs for currently operating reactors will likely be similar to existing fuel designs but may include new fuel pellet designs, new fuel cladding designs, and/or enrichments between 5 and 10 weight percent U-235.
Advanced reactor fuel designs may include enrichments of up to 20 weight percent U-235, multilayer Tri-structural Isotropic particle fuel (TRISO particles) in pebble or compact form, liquid fuels dissolved in molten salts, or metallic fuel. Fuel fabrication licensees that wish to fabricate fuel with enrichments up to 20 weight percent U-235, but whose current possession limits do not allow the possession and/or use of material enriched up to 20 weight percent U-235, will need to apply for a license amendment. Further, new fuel fabricators will need to apply for a license.
Fuel fabrication activities may be different for fuels containing U-235 enriched to between 5 and 10 weight percent. These different activities may require changes in processing operations such as chemical processing. The NRC staff would review these changes to ensure safety. These different activities would also likely require modifications to the criticality safety analyses, integrated safety analysis and controls (and potentially other types of controls). Modifications to controls could include physical modifications to equipment.