Since 2002, Centrus has been developing and demonstrating a highly efficient uranium enrichment gas centrifuge technology called the American Centrifuge. Centrus is working to deploy this technology in its American Centrifuge Plant.
The American Centrifuge Plant is an advanced uranium enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio, which will produce low enriched uranium, a key component for the fabrication of commercial nuclear fuel. The American Centrifuge Plant’s capacity will be equal to about one-fourth of the fuel requirements for the commercial power reactors in the United States, which provide approximately 20% of the U.S. electricity supply today. As the only domestic enrichment facility using U.S. technology, the American Centrifuge Plant will be critical to the long-term energy security and national security interests of the United States.
The American Centrifuge Plant will utilize Centrus’ AC100 centrifuge machine, which has been developed, engineered and manufactured in the United States. The AC100 design is a disciplined evolution of classified U.S. centrifuge technology originally developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and successfully demonstrated during the 1980s. DOE invested $3 billion over 10 years to develop the centrifuge technology, built approximately 1,500 machines and accumulated more than 10 million machine hours of run time.
Centrus has improved the DOE technology through advanced materials, updated electronics and design enhancements based on highly advanced computer modeling capabilities. Due to these improvements, the AC100 can produce four times the output per machine of any other centrifuge in existence today. Centrus has operated centrifuges for more than 2.1 million machine hours in demonstration cascades since August 2007, demonstrating that the machines can be successfully manufactured and installed for commercial use and national security purposes.
Centrus has a construction and operating license for the American Centrifuge Plant issued by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Centrus is working to deploy the American Centrifuge Plant to replace the gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment technology it previously used and to be well positioned to meet future demand for low enriched uranium. Deploying the American Centrifuge technology will will modernize Centrus’ production capacity, enabling it to stay competitive in the long term.
In addition to providing economic advantages through energy production and job creation, the American Centrifuge Project will also provide significant environmental, energy security, nonproliferation and national security benefits.
Centrus continues to take steps to maintain its options to commercially deploy the American Centrifuge technology as a long-term, direct source of domestic enrichment production to support the long-term viability of the Company's LEU business.
Centrus has confirmed the technical readiness of the American Centrifuge technology through a cooperative cost-sharing research, development and demonstration program with DOE. The RD&D program supported building, installing, operating, and testing commercial plant support systems and a 120-machine cascade that would be incorporated in the commercial plant. Maintaining a U.S. enrichment capability is critical to meeting future national security, energy security and nonproliferation objectives.
Following the completion of the RD&D program, DOE instructed UT-Battelle, the management and operating contractor for Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to assist in developing a path forward for achieving a reliable and economic domestic uranium enrichment capability that promotes private sector deployment and that supports national security purposes. Pursuant to those instructions, ORNL chose to subcontract with Centrus.
Centrus signed the American Centrifuge Technology Demonstration and Operations Agreement with UT-Battelle for continued research, development and demonstration of the American Centrifuge technology in furtherance of DOE’s national security objectives. The ACTDO Agreement is a firm fixed-price contract that provides for continued cascade operations and the continuation of core American Centrifuge research and technology activities and the furnishing of related reports to ORNL.
In parallel, Centrus has been working to position itself financially to move forward as a stronger sponsor of the American Centrifuge project. However, current enrichment market conditions do not support a viable business plan for obtaining the capital needed for the commercialization of the American Centrifuge project.