To test its prototype and AC100 centrifuge designs, USEC has operated Lead Cascades of machines at the American Centrifuge Demonstration Facility in Piketon, Ohio, which is housed in one of the process buildings to be used for the American Centrifuge Plant.
In a Lead Cascade, USEC tests its centrifuge machine designs involving the integrated testing of multiple machines in a cascade configuration. This differs from the individual machine testing USEC performs at its centrifuge design and research facilities in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Through the Lead Cascade test program, USEC obtains data on machine-to-machine interactions, verifies cascade performance models under a variety of operating conditions, and obtains operating experience for plant operators and technicians.
Unlike in a commercial plant where enriched product is withdrawn from the cascades to be sold to customers, a Lead Cascade operates in a recycle mode where no product is withdrawn and the enriched and depleted streams are recombined after going through the cascade. USEC withdraws small samples to test the enrichment level of the product stream before it is recombined.