BWXT announces HALEU contract

04 September 2023

BWX Technologies, Inc is to process thousands of kilograms of US government-owned scrap material containing enriched uranium to produce high-assay low enriched uranium - or HALEU - feedstock for fuel for advanced nuclear reactors.

Much of the material originated at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (Image: Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management)

The company will produce more than two tonnes of HALEU over the next five years from scrap material to be provided by the US Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). The scrap material is currently in a variety of forms and enrichment levels, and has been collected by the government from a number of different sources, primarily at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

"Interest in, and demand for, advanced reactors continues to grow for both national security and clean energy applications," said President of BWXT Nuclear Operations Group, Inc Sharon Smoot. "One of BWXT's key roles in moving the nuclear industry forward is leveraging its specialty materials capabilities to support domestic HALEU needs for the next generation of nuclear reactors."

"The project will clear over two metric tonnes of scrap material from the Y-12 National Security Complex, contributing to ongoing efforts to reduce the material accountability and inventory totals at the site, while also supporting the Department's advanced reactor demonstration projects," Jeff Chamberlin, Assistant Deputy Administrator for DOE NNSA's Office of Material Management and Minimisation, said.

Several hundred kilograms of the final product - HALEU feedstock in an oxide form at an enrichment level of 19.75% - are expected to be available as early as 2024.

The work is to be carried out by BWXT Nuclear Operations Group, Inc at its facilities near Lynchburg, Virginia. The company plans to hire some 20 new operators, engineers and safety personnel to support the programme.

The initial award is worth USD47 million, with a total contract value of up to USD116.5 million, subject to annual congressional appropriations.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News