USEC Inc., a global energy company, is a leading supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
- Working to deploy the American Centrifuge, USEC's next generation uranium enrichment technology
- 2013 revenues of more than $1.3 billion
- Listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "USU"
- More than 1,200 employees currently work at our four U.S. locations.
- Headquartered in Bethesda, MD
Enriched Uranium for Nuclear Fuel
USEC supplies low enriched uranium to commercial utilities for use in nuclear reactors worldwide. Low enriched uranium is a key component of the fuel used by nuclear power plants to generate electricity.
Uranium enrichment for commercial nuclear reactors began in the 1960s, when the U.S. government shifted some of its enrichment capacity from military to civilian use. In the early 1990s, USEC was created as a government corporation in order to restructure the government’s uranium enrichment operation and prepare it for sale to the private sector. USEC’s privatization was completed in July 1998. As an investor-owned company, USEC continues a 50-year tradition of reliability: all customer shipments have been made on time and within specification.
USEC’s business is in a state of significant transition as it seeks to re-position its enrichment business for long term success. USEC has historically produced or acquired low enriched uranium from two principal sources: U.S. enrichment facilities and uranium downblended from nuclear weapons.
USEC will be a significantly smaller company as it transitions from having two sources of supply to making sales from its existing inventory, from purchases of low enriched uranium from Russia and from other potential sources of supply.
Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant
Through its subsidiary, the United States Enrichment Corporation, USEC operates the only U.S.-owned uranium enrichment facility: a gaseous diffusion plant in Paducah, Kentucky. From 2001-2013, USEC produced about half of its supply at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. USEC ceased enrichment at Paducah in 2013 and is now working to transition the site back to the Department of Energy.
Between 1995 and 2013, USEC purchased about one-half of its low enriched uranium supply under a contract with Russia through the Megatons to Megawatts program, a 20-year, commercially funded nuclear nonproliferation initiative of the U.S. and Russian governments. This unique program, which ended in 2013, recycled 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium taken from dismantled Russian nuclear warheads (the equivalent of 20,000 warheads) into low enriched uranium used by USEC’s customers to generate electricity. USEC completed its purchases under the program in 2013 and will continue to sell this material from its inventory.
Going forward, USEC’s supply of low enriched uranium from the Megatons to Megawatts program will be replaced by purchases under a 10-year commercial agreement with Russia for commercially produced low enriched uranium. Purchase quantities under this commercial agreement will be about half the level under the Megatons to Megawatts program. This contract runs through 2022.
The American Centrifuge
USEC continues to pursue commercialization of the American Centrifuge, a gas centrifuge uranium enrichment technology, as the best path to remaining a competitive producer of low enriched uranium in the long-term. USEC is working to deploy the technology at the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio.
The American Centrifuge is a disciplined evolution of classified U.S. centrifuge technology originally developed by DOE. USEC has improved the technology through advanced materials, updated electronics and design enhancements based on highly advanced computer modeling capabilities.
USEC has confirmed the technical readiness of the American Centrifuge technology through a cooperative cost-sharing research, development and demonstration program with DOE. 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 commercial plant. Maintaining a U.S. enrichment capability is critical to meeting future national security, energy security and nonproliferation objectives.
In parallel, USEC is working to position itself financially to move forward as a stronger sponsor of the American Centrifuge project. However, current enrichment market conditions do not support a viable business plan for obtaining the capital needed for the commercialization of the American Centrifuge project.
USEC is currently evaluating the alternatives and actions needed for the deployment of the project, including the need for additional government support for financing and for funding for the project for the period from the completion of the RD&D program until the receipt of financing for commercial deployment.