A $16 million contract signed by Centrus Energy Corporation and and UT-Battelle LLC will continue work on gas centrifuge uranium enrichment technology at Centrus facilities in Oak Ridge, the company announced Monday.
The work is on the AC100, a U.S. gas centrifuge uranium enrichment technology.
UT-Battelle LLC operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Enriched uranium can be used in nuclear power plants and in nuclear weapons, as fuel for nuclear naval vessels, and to ensure a tritium supply, which is needed to maintain the effectiveness of America’s nuclear deterrent, officials have said previously.
The new Centrus-ORNL contract is valued at $16 million, with payments made when certain defined milestones are completed, Centrus said in a press release on Monday. The contract runs through September 30, 2018.
“Under the contract, Centrus’ scientists, engineers, and operators will test improvements developed by the company for the AC100 centrifuge machine in specialized facilities in Oak Ridge,” the press release said. “Centrus has worked under contract with ORNL since 2014 to improve the AC100 gas centrifuge technology to support national security and energy security needs.”
“Our team of scientists, engineers, and manufacturing experts in Oak Ridge continue to advance the AC100 centrifuge technology for potential deployment in support of America’s vital strategic interests,” said Daniel Poneman, Centrus president and chief executive officer. “Under this new contract, we look forward to working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to continue improving the technology to further reduce costs and increase efficiency.”
Centrus Energy, formerly known as USEC, has had operations in Oak Ridge for about 15 years. Centrus Energy has its American Centrifuge Technology Manufacturing Center in south Oak Ridge, at the former Boeing plant, and a test facility at Building K-1600 at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site. Current enrichment operations are at K-1600.
Centrus has worked with ORNL before. The company has had a contract with UT-Battelle LLC for engineering and testing work on the American Centrifuge project.
In September 2016, Centrus and ORNL agreed on a $25 million contract for work on the gas centrifuge uranium enrichment technology. That contract came six months after another contract, and it was for engineering and testing work on technology that uses gas centrifuges to enrich uranium.
The contract signed last September ran through September 30, 2017.
An earlier $32.3 million contract, which was announced in March 2016, ran through the end of September 2016. Centrus, which supplies enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants in the United States and around the world, said then that it had completed a successful three-year demonstration of the existing American Centrifuge technology at its facility in Piketon, Ohio, with 120 machines linked together in a cascade to simulate industrial operating conditions.
Informed by data from that demonstration, Centrus scientists, engineers, and operators then expected to use the Tennessee facilities to continue advancing the technology—identifying improvements that could reduce costs, help with manufacturing, and enhance the long-term reliability of enrichment operations, the company said. The work also ensured that critical U.S. expertise in centrifuge design, manufacturing, and operations is maintained, an earlier press release said.
Centrus has previously said that, while the vast majority of its business is focused on supplying nuclear fuel to utilities through contracts with a global network of uranium enrichment producers, Centrus remains committed to its role in supporting U.S. national interests.
Separately, Centrus Energy and X Energy LLC announced in September that they had signed a memorandum of understanding for a potential collaboration to possibly produce fuel for advanced nuclear reactors. The two companies are expected to put together a business plan for the fuel fabrication business, although it’s not clear how long that might take. The companies are working toward the development of a fuel fabrication facility that could possibly be in Oak Ridge,
Centrus Energy supplies enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants in the United States and around the world. The company is advancing the next generation of centrifuge technologies “so that America can restore its domestic uranium enrichment capability in the future.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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