Centrus is working with the U.S. Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop and demonstrate a highly-efficient uranium enrichment gas centrifuge technology with an important role to play for the national security and energy security of the United States and its allies around the world.
This technology – called the American Centrifuge – could restore America’s domestic uranium enrichment capability for both national security and commercial purposes. Originally developed by the U.S. Department of Energy in the 1980s and significantly upgraded in recent years by Centrus, these are the most advanced centrifuges in the world. Their deployment would put the United States at the forefront of uranium enrichment technology.
The United States, which for decades led the world in uranium enrichment, shut down the last of its outdated and increasingly uneconomical Cold War-era enrichment plants in 2013 – leaving the nation without a domestic, industrial-scale uranium enrichment capability for national security purposes for the first time since the Manhattan Project.
While current market conditions do not support building a full-scale uranium enrichment plant for commercial purposes, the United States needs an industrial enrichment capability for many reasons – – including strengthening energy security, supporting its nonproliferation policy, providing fuel for the long-term needs of the nuclear Navy, and providing the tritium needed to maintain the effectiveness of America’s nuclear deterrent.
The American Centrifuge technology is the only technology now available to restore this critical capability. An October 2015 report by the U.S. Department of Energy found that Centrus’ AC100 centrifuge is the “most technically advanced and lowest risk option” to meet the nation’s long term national security needs.
Centrus has been working with the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory for several years to develop, demonstrate, and continue to advance the American Centrifuge technology.
In early 2016, Centrus completed a successful three-year demonstration of a full, 120 machine cascade of advanced centrifuges at its Piketon, Ohio, facility, demonstrating the long-term performance and reliability of the machines under actual operating conditions. Informed by data from that work, Centrus scientists, engineers, and operators are utilizing the Company’s unique facilities in Tennessee to continue advancing the technology – identifying further improvements to reduce costs, improve manufacturability, and enhance long-term reliability of its enrichment operations. The work also ensures that critical U.S. expertise in centrifuge design, manufacturing, and operations continues to advance.
Centrus’ ongoing work on the technology is supported under a contract with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to continue the development, operation and demonstration of the American Centrifuge so that it can ultimately be deployed, when needed, to support U.S. national security requirements.
Centrus signed the U.S. Centrifuge Technology Advancement contract with UT-Battelle, LLC, as operator of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in March 2016. Under the terms of the agreement, Centrus continues to perform engineering and testing work to preserve and advance U.S.-origin uranium enrichment technology to support future national security and energy security needs. The contract runs through September 30, 2016.
Centrus is working to protect its core capabilities in the American Centrifuge so that the technology will remain ready for deployment in the event that the U.S. government calls upon it for national security purposes. Centrus is using the funding under its contract to support and advance America’s scientific, technical, and industrial expertise in advanced centrifuges.
Centrus is continuing to explore technology refinements and other ways to deploy the most cost effective commercial enrichment capacity taking advantage of the current period of time when capacity expansion is not needed in the market.