USEC Inc.’s (NYSE: USU) American Centrifuge research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program recently accomplished the second of five technical milestones with Department of Energy certification of the successful completion of 20 years of centrifuge run-time on the commercial plant AC100 centrifuge machine.
Milestone Two affirmed the reliability of the Lower Suspension Drive Assembly (LSDA) which was upgraded in 2011. After achieving 20 years of run-time in May of this year, AC100 machines containing this upgraded subassembly continued accumulating hours and have now run for more than 30 machine years.
“The American Centrifuge machine continues to demonstrate robust and reliable performance as confirmation that it is ready for commercial deployment,” said John K. Welch, USEC president and CEO. “Our team remains focused on achieving the key performance and reliability milestones necessary to move this program to commercialization.”
Achieving Milestone Two confirms estimates of machine reliability in a commercial plant setting that supports the business case for the American Centrifuge Plant. The remaining three milestones of the RD&D program are expected to be met in late 2013.
“The board is pleased with the early accomplishments and overall direction of the RD&D program,” said Luis Reyes, executive director for operations (retired), U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and chairman of the American Centrifuge Demonstration, LLC board of managers. The board, made up of nuclear industry leaders, is charged with oversight and management of the RD&D program. “The RD&D program is progressing on schedule and on budget. The board will continue to work closely with the American Centrifuge program managers to build upon this success.”
Progress continues on the RD&D program, including continued manufacturing and conditioning of additional AC100 machines. Three of six service modules needed to support the full cascade have been installed, and work on additional balance of plant systems is progressing on schedule.
The objective of the RD&D program, a cooperative program jointly funded by the Department of Energy and USEC on an 80 percent / 20 percent basis, is to demonstrate the American Centrifuge technology through the construction and operation of a commercial plant configuration 120-centrifuge machine cascade and to sustain the domestic U.S. centrifuge technical and industrial base to ensure the capability exists to meet future national security needs. This includes activities to reduce the risks and improve the future prospects of commercial deployment of the American Centrifuge technology.