Since 2002, USEC has been developing and demonstrating a highly efficient uranium enrichment gas centrifuge technology called the American Centrifuge. USEC is working to deploy this technology in its American Centrifuge Plant.
The American Centrifuge Plant is an advanced uranium enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio, which will produce low enriched uranium, a key component for the fabrication of commercial nuclear fuel. The American Centrifuge Plant’s capacity will be equal to about one-third of the fuel requirements for the commercial power reactors in the United States, which provide approximately 20% of the U.S. electricity supply today.
The American Centrifuge Plant will utilize USEC’s AC100 centrifuge machine, which has been developed, engineered and assembled in the United States. The AC100 design is a disciplined evolution of classified U.S. centrifuge technology originally developed by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and successfully demonstrated during the 1980s. DOE invested $3 billion over 10 years to develop the centrifuge technology, built approximately 1,500 machines and accumulated more than 10 million machine hours of run time.
USEC has improved the DOE technology through advanced materials, updated electronics and design enhancements based on highly advanced computer modeling capabilities. Due to these improvements, the AC100 can produce four times the output per machine of any other centrifuge in existence today. USEC has operated centrifuges as part of its Lead Cascade test program since August 2007, demonstrating that the machines can be successfully manufactured and installed for commercial use.
USEC has a construction and operating license issued by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and began construction of the American Centrifuge Plant in May 2007. USEC is deploying the American Centrifuge Plant to replace its gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant and to be well positioned to meet future demand for low enriched uranium. Deploying the American Centrifuge technology will substantially reduce USEC’s power costs and will modernize its production capacity, enabling USEC to stay competitive in the long term.
In addition to providing economic advantages through energy production and job creation, the American Centrifuge Project will also provide significant environmental, energy security, nonproliferation and national security benefits.