The American Nuclear Society wrote to Congress, urging the need for a domestic supply of high-assay, low-enriched uranium.
The United States Congress needs to take swift action to build a domestic supply of fuel for advanced reactors and to avoid future dependence on Russia for advanced nuclear fuel, the American Nuclear Society wrote in a Sept. 14 letter to the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The professional organization representing over 10,000 nuclear engineers, scientists and technologies, ANS explained that many advanced reactor designs, including nine of the ten designs awarded under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, require uranium enriched up to 20% as reactor fuel. This high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) is currently available only from limited amounts from the DOE via down-blending of existing stockpiles of material and from Russian imports.
“Without a substantial domestic HALEU enrichment capability, we risk not having the fuel needed to power advanced nuclear energy as part of our clean energy future,” wrote ANS President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy in the letter. “Long-term reliance on Russian state-owned uranium producers exposes our largest carbon-free energy source to unacceptable business and political risk. The maturation of new nuclear technologies and advanced reactor designs underscores the need for securing our domestic nuclear fuel supply chains.”
ANS applauded Sen. John Barrasso’s proposed amendment to the recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), which directs the U.S. Energy Secretary to make HALEU available for advanced reactor demonstration projects and to accelerate the availability of commercially enriched, deconverted and fabricated HALEU within the United States.
“ANS believes an investment of $200 million annually over a five-year period is needed to process DOE material at levels sufficient to supply demonstrations of next-generation reactor designs,” wrote ANS. “To address enrichment, ANS recommends $1.5 billion total over ten years to produce 20 tons annually, which is what our experts believe will be needed in that time frame.”
“Now is the time to encourage multiple companies to prepare to compete for future DOE funding to build out the nation’s HALEU infrastructure,” continued the Society. “ANS believes that a comprehensive approach should be considered for both enrichment and processing, i.e., $2.5 billion.” This amount is $200 million annually over five years for processing of DOE stockpiles and $150 million over ten years for uranium enrichment
ANS noted that, “This recommendation coincides with Senator Barrasso’s original amendment and is currently the only viable option available to avoid U.S. dependence on Russian material.”
Click here to read ANS’s HALEU letter to ENR Chair Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Ranking Member Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.).
Established in 1954, the American Nuclear Society (ANS) is an international professional organization of engineers and scientists devoted to the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. Its more than 10,000 members represent government, academia, research laboratories, medical facilities, and private industry. ANS’s mission is to advance, foster, and spur the development and application of nuclear science, engineering, and technology to benefit society.