June 20, 2018
Nuclear Industry Council Joins ClearPath in 4-point Plan for U.S. Fuel Supply for Advanced Nuclear Energy
Facilitating the deployment of promising advanced nuclear technologies by supporting the availability of high-assay low enriched uranium.
The Big Picture
Over the last several years, advanced nuclear energy designs have emerged that not only bring with them the opportunity for more cost-effective, deployable and safety-enhanced reactors, but they also position the U.S to regain a pre-eminent position in nuclear exports. One critical element that almost all of these designs share is the need for access to higher enrichments of uranium or HA-LEU. Unfortunately, the U.S. does not presently enrich uranium at this level and, while the Department of Energy has initiated efforts to identify opportunities to meet these needs, the attention of Congress to this matter is a critical and timely need.
4-Point Plan Drill Down
1. Congress should direct the Secretary of Energy to establish an adequate “strategic reserve” of higher assay LEU at an enrichment of 19.75% in order to serve the needs of the advanced reactor community to support near-term need for lead test assemblies. Optimally, the reserve should contain at least 6MT by 2020 and at least an additional 30MT by 2025.
2. Congress should direct the Secretary of Energy to develop a fast neutron test facility with a design requirement that utilizes higher assay LEU to serve as a catalyst for the early production of this material.
3. Congress should direct the Secretary of Energy to conduct a study of various alternatives to procuring domestic uranium, enriched up to 5% to use as the feedstock for the down-blending of HEU to 19.75%.
4. In addition to the strategy included in recommendation one, Congress could direct the Secretary of Energy to facilitate procurement of HA-LEU in the domestic or international commercial market.