Sept. 9, 2002 — USEC Inc. told the nuclear industry recently that in 2005 it will be operating a commercial-sized module of hundreds of next generation U.S. centrifuge uranium enrichment machines that will lead to starting commercial plant operations in this decade.
USEC’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dennis Spurgeon told the World Nuclear Association in London recently that USEC’s commercial-sized centrifuge module will showcase improvements to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) proven centrifuge uranium enrichment technology.
USEC is confident that the technology will be the world’s most efficient process for enriching uranium for nuclear fuel. USEC will spend approximately $150 million over the next five years to deploy a lead cascade of up to 240 improved full-scale centrifuge machines which, based on previous performance, will be the most economical in the world.
“We don’t have to develop a new technology – it is already proven . . .,” said Spurgeon. The USEC machine is replicating a sound technology with state-of-the-art commercially available materials, modern manufacturing processes and modern electronics and control systems that create much better economics. “With the lowest unit cost basis, our technology will yield the best return on investment of any centrifuge being deployed,” said Spurgeon.
“As the global market for nuclear power grows, USEC is well positioned and committed to serving the expanding fuel needs of the industry,” said Spurgeon. “USEC is doing its part to support the growth of the nuclear industry. With three generations of enrichment technology in our portfolio, we are prepared to fuel the renaissance of nuclear power.”
Construction of the lead cascade facility will begin in 2004 following regulatory approval by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and operations will start in late 2005. Commercial plant construction will begin in 2007, with operations beginning in the 2009-2010 timeframe.
“We are improving an already impressive technology,” said Spurgeon. DOE spent more than two decades and $3 billion on centrifuge technology. Thousands of machines were built and operated for thousands of hours at performance levels superior to recently’s best-installed centrifuge technology. The state-of-the-art updates USEC will use in its lead cascade program will further enhance its performance and result in a lower-risk construction program.
USEC continues to invest in SILEX, a laser-based technology being developed in Australia. Still in the research and development stage right now, the SILEX technology has promising potential as a third-generation technology.
Spurgeon’s speech, “Fueling the Nuclear Renaissance,” can be found on USEC’s website (www.usec.com).
USEC Inc., a global energy company, is a supplier of enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.
Source: USEC Inc.