USEC Inc. (NYSE: USU) and the Department of Energy (DOE) have signed agreements to move forward with a $350 million cooperative research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program to confirm the technical readiness of the American Centrifuge, the next-generation U.S. uranium enrichment technology. “Our agreements reflect the importance of this U.S. technology to our national security and will validate the readiness of the American Centrifuge technology for commercial deployment,” said John K. Welch, USEC president and CEO. “Over the last several months, we have been preparing our demonstration facility for installation of a full-scale commercial cascade with related plant infrastructure. With this RD&D agreement in place, we will move rapidly to build additional AC100 machines and related support systems to complete the demonstration cascade. “The program will demonstrate the American Centrifuge technology as the next generation of U.S. enrichment technology that is essential to meet our nation’s future national security requirements. Upon completion by the end of next year, this RD&D program will fully demonstrate that the American Centrifuge technology is ready for commercial deployment. I would like to thank members of Congress for their bipartisan support for this project and DOE for its commitment to this vital technology,” Welch said. The cooperative agreement between USEC and DOE defines the scope, funding and technical goals for the program. The total investment in the program will be up to $350 million, with DOE providing 80 percent, or $280 million, and USEC providing 20 percent, or $70 million, of the total. The RD&D program will support building, installing, operating, and testing commercial plant support systems and a 120-machine cascade that would be incorporated in the full commercial plant in Piketon, Ohio, which is planned to operate 96 identical cascades. The program will enhance the technical and financial readiness of the centrifuge technology for commercialization and support more than 1,000 direct jobs during the RD&D program.