Centrus Energy Corp. announced this week that it has made its first delivery of High-Assay, Low-Enriched Uranium to the U.S. Department of Energy, completing Phase One of its contract with the Department by successfully demonstrating its HALEU production process. Centrus will now move on to Phase Two of the contract – requiring a full year of HALEU production at the rate of 900 kilograms per year at its American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio.
“Centrus is proud to be pioneering American HALEU production, with our first delivery of the fuel that is urgently needed to support the demonstration and commercialization of advanced reactors,” said Centrus President and CEO Daniel B. Poneman. “This critical milestone is essential to meeting the Department’s near-term HALEU needs, while laying the groundwork for the full restoration of America’s lost domestic uranium enrichment capacity. We are committed to working with the Department and industry to build a public-private partnership so that we can scale up production in the coming years to meet the full range of commercial and national security requirements for enriched uranium.”
“Our HALEU team has worked exceptionally hard to complete this project ahead of schedule and under budget – showing we can execute on big, complicated projects and deliver value to our customers,” said Centrus Senior Vice President of Operations Larry Cutlip. “We are grateful to have had the opportunity to demonstrate and expand our capabilities and expertise over the course of this work and look forward to embarking on the next phase of this important effort.”
Under a competitively awarded, cost-share contract signed with the U.S. Department of Energy in 2022, Centrus was required to begin production of HALEU by the end of this year. Centrus began enrichment operations in October – two months ahead of schedule. By completing delivery of more than 20 kilograms of HALEU to the Department, Centrus has finished Phase One of the contract. The Department takes delivery of the HALEU on site in Piketon and is obligated to provide the HALEU storage cylinders to collect the HALEU from the cascade; Centrus has constructed a storage facility where the HALEU will be kept until it is needed.
Phase One included a 50 percent cost share requirement for Centrus, with the company and the Department each contributing about $30 million of the $60 million overall cost. In Phase Two of the contract, the Department will pay Centrus on a cost-plus incentive fee basis for the HALEU the company produces.
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 is 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 producing HALEU within 42 months after securing the necessary funding. With appropriate support, Centrus could add a second HALEU cascade six months later and subsequent cascades every two months after that. That would mobilize hundreds of union workers in Ohio to build and operate the plant, while supporting thousands of direct and indirect jobs across a nationwide manufacturing supply chain. The Piketon facility has ample space for the thousands of machines that will be needed to meet the growing demand for enriched uranium in the decades to come.