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DOE Seeks Out U.S. Uranium Enrichers

In the push to bolster advanced nuclear energy production, the Biden administration is seeking private-sector firms capable of enriching uranium, POLITICO Pro (subscription) reports.

What’s going on: “The Department of Energy launched a request for proposals on Tuesday to contract with companies that can enrich uranium.”

  • “Between the RFP launch … and a previous request issued at the end of last year, the administration is offering $500 million in contracts for domestic HALEU suppliers through the Inflation Reduction Act. The IRA set aside $700 million in total to boost domestic production of HALEU.”
  • This request focuses on firms that can enrich uranium “at the scale needed for smaller, advanced reactors.”

Why it’s important: HALEU—or high-assay, low-enriched uranium, which is more efficient than the uranium used in larger reactors—is critical to powering advanced reactors.

  • Sourcing the fuel domestically has become more crucial since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine nearly two years ago, as Russia and its allies dominate global production of HALEU.
  • Only one company in the U.S.—Centrus Energy Corp.—is certified to produce HALEU. It produced the first 20 kilograms in November.
  • Last month, as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act, Congress passed the Nuclear Fuel Security Act, which the NAM supported. The legislation directs the DOE to do more to increase the availability of HALEU in the U.S.

Our view: “Now that Congress has passed and President Biden has signed into law the Nuclear Fuel Security Act, the U.S. is ready to take the necessary steps to boost our domestic nuclear industry,” said NAM Director of Domestic Policy Mike Davin.

  • “Nuclear energy offers carbon-free, baseload power, which will be essential to the operations of America’s manufacturers in the 21st century.”
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