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(Bethesda, MD) – Centrus Energy Corporation has announced that it expects to begin first-of-a-kind production of High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) in October 2023, approximately two months ahead of schedule, at the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio.
“This will be the first new U.S.-owned uranium enrichment plant to begin production since 1954,” said Centrus President and CEO Daniel B. Poneman. “What better way to commemorate the 70th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s historic Atoms for Peace initiative than to restore a domestic uranium enrichment capability that will support our energy security and clean power needs, enable long-term national security and nonproliferation goals, and generate great new jobs for American workers.”
“We are all so proud of our team for getting us to this point, under budget and ahead of schedule,” said Senior Vice President for Field Operations Larry Cutlip. “This will be a key milestone, not only in providing a critical component of fuel for the next generation of reactors, but as the first step toward converting Southern Ohio into a vibrant hub that will strengthen our Nation’s nuclear supply chain and facilitate the accelerated deployment of the nuclear energy increasingly demanded domestically and abroad to meet global climate objectives.”
Under a competitively-awarded, cost-share contract signed with the U.S. Department of Energy in 2022, Centrus is required to begin production of HALEU by the end of this year. In June, Centrus announced it had successfully completed its operational readiness reviews with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and received NRC approval to possess uranium at the Piketon, Ohio site – the last major regulatory hurdle prior to beginning production. Centrus is now conducting final system tests and other preparations so that production can begin in October.
HALEU is an advanced nuclear fuel required for most of the next-generation reactor designs currently under development. The capacity of the 16-centrifuge cascade that is expected to begin enrichment operations in October will be modest – about 900 kilograms of HALEU per year – but with sufficient funding and offtake commitments, Centrus could significantly expand production. A full-scale HALEU cascade, consisting of 120 centrifuge machines, with a combined capacity to produce approximately 6,000 kilograms of HALEU per year (6 MTU/year), could be brought online within about 42 months of securing the necessary funding. Centrus could add an additional HALEU cascade every six months after that. That would mobilize hundreds of union workers in Ohio to build and operate the plant and support thousands of direct and indirect jobs across a nationwide manufacturing supply chain.