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 by Centrus over a 15-year period, 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The United States, which for decades led the world in uranium enrichment, shut down the last of its outdated and increasingly uneconomical Cold War-era enrichment plants in 2013 – leaving the nation without a domestic, industrial-scale uranium enrichment capability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 providing a fuel source for advanced reactors, 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 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.