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USNC licenses ORNL method to 3D print nuclear reactor components

Using refractory metals to create highly complex shapes for advanced designs

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Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) has licensed a novel method to 3D print highly resistant components for use in nuclear reactor designs. USNC Executive Vice President Kurt Terrani, formerly of ORNL, said the novel method will allow the company to make parts with desired complex shapes more efficiently.

The novel method to 3D print components for nuclear reactors, developed by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, uses a sophisticated additive manufacturing technique to print refractory materials, which are highly resistant to extreme heat and degradation, into components with complex shapes needed for advanced nuclear reactor designs.

USNC will incorporate this method to boost their mission to develop and deploy nuclear-based, energy-generating equipment that is safe, commercially competitive and simple to use.

The long-time Seattle-based collaborator also plans to expand its operations into East Tennessee to take advantage of proximity to ORNL’s expertise while scaling up production of specialty components for nuclear and industrial applications.

Ultra Safe Nuclear licenses ORNL method to 3D print nuclear reactors using refractory metals to create highly complex shapes
ORNL scientists have selected and optimized a design for printing over a three-month period, demonstrating the ability to rapidly-produce a prototype reactor core. Credit: Brittany Cramer/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

“This technology is ideal for manufacturing structure and core components for USNC’s advanced reactor designs,” Kurt Terrani said.

Terrani came to USNC from ORNL where he was technical director of the lab’s Transformational Challenge Reactor program, leveraging expertise at the lab’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility with leadership in nuclear technology to pilot the concept of 3D printing components for energy applications.

“It’s rewarding to see the transition from basic concept to a more mature technology that is actively being developed and deployed by our industry partners,” said Jeremy Busby, director of ORNL’s Nuclear Energy and Fuel Cycle division. “This is exactly the sort of impact that ORNL strives to make for our energy portfolio.”

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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