Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF), the GE-led joint venture with Hitachi, Ltd. and Toshiba Corporation, this month is celebrating its 10th anniversary and embarking on a new decade as a world-leading supplier of reliable, high-quality fabricated nuclear fuel and services for the commercial nuclear industry.
With a growing list of countries planning to build new nuclear plants, and with utilities extending the lives of their current fleets, GNF is poised to meet this increased global demand with innovative advances in nuclear fuel technology.
GNF has fabricated 1.5 billion nuclear fuel pellets since the joint venture was created in 2000, enough to power the equivalent of 300 million typical U.S. homes. Nuclear energy is one of the few baseload sources of electricity that create nearly zero CO2 emissions during the electricity generation process.
GNF’s fuel cycle leadership is complemented by GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), the global nuclear alliance formed by GE and Hitachi Ltd. that provides advanced nuclear reactors and reactor services. Across the GE Wilmington site in North Carolina, GEH is developing technologies to enrich uranium with lasers, recycle used-nuclear fuel for addressing waste-storage and non-proliferation issues and develop isotopes for life-saving medical diagnoses and treatments.
“These two businesses position us extremely well to lead globally across the nuclear fuel cycle,” said Kevin Walsh, CEO of GNF and senior vice president of GEH Nuclear Fuel Cycle. “We’re excited to celebrate GNF’s 10th anniversary and couldn’t be more energized about the future. Our customers need reliable, high-quality and cost-effective fuel cycle technologies and we are committed to delivering the very best.”
GNF also is the majority owner of GNF ENUSA Nuclear Fuel S.A. (GENUSA), a Spanish company jointly owned by Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas, LLC and ENUSA Industrias Avanzadas S.A., the fuel services company based in Madrid, Spain. GENUSA markets and sells fuel to nuclear plants with boiling water reactors in Europe. GEH also supports Canada’s domestic fleet of Candu nuclear reactors through GEH-Canada’s services facilities near Toronto, Ontario.
Each year, GNF manufacturing facilities fabricate more than 1 million uranium pellets the size of pencil erasers. The pellets are packed in assemblies of long, zirconium-alloy tubes, and these fuel assemblies are shipped around the world to nuclear power plants. There, they are installed in the reactor core to create steam that engages a turbine generator to produce electricity.
These pellets are tiny but powerful. A single pellet contains as much energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 1,780 pounds of coal or 149 gallons of oil, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.
In marking the 10-year anniversary, Walsh noted that GNF has pioneered key developments in delivering reliable, quality engineered offerings in the nuclear fuel cycle. GNF achieved a significant step for the nuclear industry by developing Defender filtration technology to meet plant operators’ needs for fuel reliability, offering millions of dollars in cost savings to GNF’s customers by avoiding operational downtime. Also, GNF-Japan has been recognized as an industry leader in designing and providing mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.
In addition, GNF’s North Carolina and Japanese facilities coordinated the development of fuel for GEH’s ABWR reactor model, the world’s first and only Generation III reactor to enter commercial service. For GEH’s next-generation ESBWR reactor, GNF is developing an innovative new fuel design that promises to be one of the most reliable in the world.
About Global Nuclear Fuel
Global Nuclear Fuel (GNF) is a world-leading supplier of boiling water reactor fuel, including uranium dioxide and MOX fuel and fuel-related engineering services. GNF operates primarily through Global Nuclear Fuel-Americas, LLC in Wilmington, N.C., and Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan Co. Ltd. in Kurihama, Japan
Source: GE Energy