Updated August 2013
USEC and the Department of Energy are executing a $350 million cooperative research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program to confirm the technical readiness of the American Centrifuge, the next-generation U.S. uranium enrichment technology.
The RD&D program supports building, installing, operating, and testing commercial plant support systems and a 120-machine cascade that would be incorporated in the full commercial plant in Piketon, Ohio, which is planned to operate 96 identical cascades.
The cooperative agreement between USEC and DOE defines the scope, funding and technical goals for the program. The total investment in the program will be up to $350 million, with DOE providing 80 percent, or $280 million, and USEC providing 20 percent, or $70 million, of the total.
- Program is within budget and on schedule.
- USEC has completed removal of legacy cascade support equipment and has constructed new infrastructure equipment and the 120 machine demonstration cascade to commercial plant specifications.
- The integrated systems testing program for the cascade is now complete. All 120 centrifuges are now spinning individually at target speed, and the process of conditioning the centrifuges and related piping on uranium hexafluoride gas is underway. USEC expects to operate the centrifuges as an interconnected cascade in the fourth quarter, once startup and conditioning actions are completed in the third quarter.
- Centrifuge operations, testing and manufacturing are also continuing at USEC’s facilities in Oak Ridge, TN. AC100 machines will be manufactured through the end of the year to sustain the industrial base.
- The cooperative agreement is being incrementally funded, and $227.7 million of DOE funding has been provided. This total includes $29.9 million provided in July 2013, which is expected to fund program activities through September 30, 2013.
- In March 2013, the cooperative agreement was amended to add four new program technical milestones to the original five. DOE has certified completion of five of the nine milestones. Operations testing in support of the sixth milestone was completed successfully in July, and DOE certification of that milestone is pending.
- DOE also certified completion of Performance Indicator A, 10 machine years runtime with a safety enhancement; Performance Indicator B, demonstration of AC100 production capability by manufacturing, assembling and delivering 78 centrifuges; and Performance Indicator C, complete AC100 production capability by manufacturing, assembling and providing 120 centrifuges to Operations.
- The program is utilizing 169 companies from 28 states to support RD&D construction, manufacturing and operations activities.
- During construction of the demonstration cascade systems in early 2013, the program added more than 300 workers in Ohio, Tennessee and other states, raising the total project workforce to more than 1,100 workers at that time.
American Centrifuge Demonstration, LLC
USEC and its newly created subsidiary, American Centrifuge Demonstration, LLC, are carrying out the RD&D program. American Centrifuge Demonstration has put in place a program management and enhanced program execution structure as agreed to in the cooperative agreement with DOE. In July 2012, USEC entered into a limited liability company agreement for American Centrifuge Demonstration that, among other things, established a board of managers in accordance with the enhanced program execution structure. The board of managers oversees and directs the management of the RD&D program. The seven-person board is comprised of the following members:
- Luis Reyes, executive director for operations (retired), U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (Chairman),
- Kenneth R. Camplin, vice president, operations, Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group, Inc.,
- M. Roger Eshelman, executive vice president and chief operating officer (retired), Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC,
- Bruce Rash, director, nuclear project management, Exelon Generation Company, LLC,
- Philip G. Sewell, senior vice president and chief development officer, USEC Inc.,
- Robert Van Namen, senior vice president and chief operating officer, USEC Inc., and
- Hitoshi Yabuta, vice president, project management, Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation.
The RD&D program funds the following activities:
- Installation and operation of a 120 machine cascade, that will be replicated 96 times in a commercial plant, along with related plant support systems
- Continued manufacture and assembly of the AC100 centrifuges used in the 120 machine demonstration cascade.
- Ongoing technical support for centrifuge manufacturing and lead cascade operations.
- Engineering, Procurement and Construction work needed to install and operate the 120-machine demonstration cascade.
- Maintain the centrifuge intellectual property and sustain the domestic centrifuge technical and industrial base for national security purposes and potential ACP commercialization.
- Activities to reduce risk and improve the prospects of future deployment of the American Centrifuge
The cooperative agreement includes technical milestones for the RD&D program. In March 2013, the USEC-DOE cooperative agreement was amended to provide for additional incremental funding. As part of that amendment, four new milestones related to specific testing requirements associated with the test program USEC developed with DOE for the RD&D program were added. The original remaining milestones have a milestone date of December 31, 2013, tied to the completion of the RD&D program. The new milestones have milestone dates beginning as early as May 15.
- Milestone 1 (Completed): DOE and USEC jointly agree upon a test program for the remaining milestones and for full system reliability and plant availability that takes into account human factors, upgraded Lower Suspension Drive Assembly (“LSDA”) and overall AC100 reliability, and full cascade separative performance, so as to achieve an overall plant availability and confidence level needed to support commercial plant operations
- Milestone 2 (Completed): Confirm the reliability of the LSDA by accumulating 20 machine years of operation at target speed using AC100 centrifuges with upgraded LSDAs with no more than the projected number of LSDA failures
- Milestone 3 (Completed): DOE and USEC will jointly agree to revise and further define the test program plan to include agreed parameters and success criteria for tests and such other modifications as the parties agree, such as the inclusion of additional milestones
- Milestone 4 (Completed): Successfully complete “Extended Feed Rate Range Survey, Machine” test
- Milestone 5 (Completed): Successfully complete “Machine Performance Parameter Test” test
- Milestone 6 (Completed; DOE certification pending): Successfully complete “Power Outage Testing, Machine Response” test
- Milestone 7 (by December 31, 2013): Demonstrate AC100 manufacturing quality by operating the commercial demonstration cascade for a minimum of 20 machine years to provide the confidence level needed to support commercial plant operations
- Milestone 8 (by December 31, 2013): Demonstrate AC100 reliability by accumulating 20 machine years at target speed and design condition with no more than the expected number of infant, steady-state and electronic recycles
- Milestone 9 (by December 31, 2013): Demonstrate sustained production from a commercially staged, 120-centrifuge demonstration cascade configuration for 60 days (approximately 20 machine years) in cascade recycle mode with production availability needed during commercial plant operations using an average AC100 centrifuge production of 340 SWU per centrifuge year
The agreement includes substantial taxpayer protections:
- USEC has granted DOE an irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free license in centrifuge intellectual property for government purposes.
- USEC has granted to DOE title to certain existing equipment used in the RD&D program as well as all equipment, such as centrifuge machines, produced or acquired as part of the RD&D program.
- USEC is instituting a new governance structure for the RD&D program by forming American Centrifuge Demonstration, LLC.
- American Centrifuge Demonstration will be subject to the requirements USEC must meet under its NRC license.
- American Centrifuge Demonstration has a seven-member board of managers that is not controlled by USEC.