U.S. Department of Energy seeks domestic enrichment capability

According to the Request for Information DE-SOL-0008552 posted by the Department of Energy, the department seeks to establish domestic enrichment capability that would allow it to have access to "unobligated and unencumbered" enriched uranium that could be used in tritium production and in the fuel of naval reactors. Additionally, DoE plans to use domestically produced "high-assay LEU" for research reactors.

The document contains the following estimated requirements for enriched uranium production:

  1. High-assay LEU for research reactors by approximately 2030, as well as for test reactors in approximately 2025 and demonstration reactors in approximately 2030;
  2. LEU reactor fuel for tritium production by approximately 2038; and
  3. HEU reactor fuel for naval reactors by approximately 2060.

To provide the enrichment capability, DoE is looking at the domestic centrifuge technology, but is also willing to explore other options:

Potential strategies could include, but need not be limited to those based on the deployment and operation of a uranium enrichment plant utilizing technology to which DOE has current access (i.e., the AC100 centrifuge machine) and DOE-owned facilities and equipment. (DOE/NNSA may provide more information on request.) DOE intends to explore all practical options for meeting its need for enriched uranium, including incremental deployment and operations, and is also interested in approaches that might use a technology other than the AC100 centrifuge.