HALEU investment is key part of TerraPower’s demo proposal

TerraPower announced on September 15 that it plans to work with Centrus Energy to establish commercial-scale production facilities for the high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) needed to fuel many advanced reactor designs.

The proposed investment in HALEU fuel fabrication is tied to a TerraPower-led submittal to the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), which was created to support the deployment of two first-of-a-kind advanced reactor designs within five to seven years. TerraPower would like one of those designs to be Natrium, the 345-MWe sodium fast reactor that it has developed with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

Supporters of nuclear infrastructure bill testify at Senate hearing

The draft American Nuclear Infrastructure Act of 2020 (ANIA) received support from three energy experts at a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on August 5. The legislation had been introduced the previous week by Sen. John Barrasso (R., Wyo.), the committee’s chairman.

Testifying before the committee were Amy Roma, a founding member of the Nuclear Energy and National Security Coalition at the Atlantic Council and an attorney at Hogan Lovells; W. Paul Goranson, chief operating officer of Energy Fuels Inc. and president of the Uranium Producers of America (UPA); and Armond Cohen, executive director of the Clean Air Task Force (CATF). (For more on the CATF, remember to check out next month’s Nuclear News.)

Record low uranium production noted as Congress debates reserve funding

Uranium producers around the world have suffered through years of record low uranium prices. In 2019 the United States recorded its lowest total uranium production—174,000 lb U3O8—since the U.S. Energy Information Administration began collecting data in 1949, according to the agency’s Today in Energy analysis of July 17.

U.S. uranium producers asked the federal government to come to their aid in January 2018, and President Donald Trump created the U.S. Nuclear Fuel Working Group (NFWG) in July 2019. While the NFWG issued a report in April 2020 recommending support for the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, uranium producers are in a waiting game once again as the U.S. House of Representatives works on Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations legislation.

NRC accepts Centrus Energy’s application for HALEU license expansion

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted for review Centrus Energy Corporation’s application to produce high-assay low-enriched uranium at its facility in Piketon, Ohio, the company announced on June 23. HALEU-based fuels will be required for most of the advanced reactor designs currently under development and may also be utilized in next-generation fuels for the existing fleet of reactors in the United States and around the world.

Baranwal on NFWG plan: “It’s time to get to work”

Baranwal

“Our ability to produce domestic nuclear fuel is on the verge of a collapse,” Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Rita Baranwal said in an article posted on the DOE’s website on May 11. “This is not an easy problem to fix, but the United States has a plan.”

DOE issues broad nuclear energy strategy

Brouillette

The long-awaited report from the Trump administration’s Nuclear Fuel Working Group promises immediate support for the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle, but it doesn’t stop there. “This is a road map for what we think needs to be done to not only revitalize, but reestablish American leadership for this entire industry,” said Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette as he introduced the report during a press call on April 23.

Metropolis Works receives 40-year license renewal

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on March 24 relicensed the only uranium conversion plant in the United States, Honeywell International’s Metropolis Works.

Metropolis Works can now operate until March 24, 2060, potentially logging operations for over a century. Built in 1958 to produce uranium hexafluoride (UF6) for the U.S. government, Metropolis Works began selling UF6 on the commercial market in 1968.