ANS to DOE: HALEU availability program needed ASAP

February 18, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News

The American Nuclear Society is urging the Department of Energy to accelerate the development of an availability program for high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU).

In a letter sent to the DOE earlier this week, ANS President Steven Nesbit and Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer Craig Piercy state that HALEU availability is critical to the continued development of advanced nuclear technologies.

The establishment of a HALEU supply chain, the letter says, would support the DOE’s efforts to deploy and commercialize clean energy technologies and infrastructure. “Further,” it continues, “the DOE’s substantial investments in the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) are at risk of significant deployment delays without the expeditious development of HALEU infrastructure.”

Context: The ANS letter is in response to a December 14 request for information from the DOE inviting input on the planning for a HALEU availability program. The Energy Act of 2020 authorized the department to establish and carry out such a program to supply HALEU for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use. The comment period for the RFI closed on February 14.

Established in 2020, the DOE’s ARDP seeks to help domestic private industry demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors. The cost-sharing program has three components: advanced reactor demonstrations, risk reduction for future demonstrations, and advanced reactor concepts 2020 (ARC-20).

In October 2020, the DOE selected TerraPower and X-energy as top-tier ARDP award recipients for $160 million in initial cost-shared funding to develop and construct two advanced nuclear reactors that could be operational within seven years. In November of last year, President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which fully funded and appropriated $3.2 billion through 2027 for the top-tier ARDP awards and an additional $2.4 billion through 2025 for the risk reduction and ARC-20 awards.

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