Feedback to be used in setting up new program to help fuel and support advanced reactor demonstration and deployment projects
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking public input on its plans to create a new program that will ensure the availability of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel in the United States. The establishment of a HALEU Availability Program is essential to the demonstration and commercial deployment of advanced reactors, including two demonstration projects that will receive $2.5 billion in funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help support the nation’s bold climate, national security, and job creation goals.
A majority of the advanced reactors under development in the United States require HALEU fuel to achieve smaller designs, longer operating cycles, and increased efficiencies over its predecessors. HALEU is not available at commercial scale from domestic suppliers. A lack of this commercial supply chain could significantly impact the development and deployment of U.S. advanced reactors and increase the risk and uncertainty for private investment in the production of HALEU.
The Energy Act of 2020 authorizes DOE to establish and carry out a program to support the availability of HALEU for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use. The request for information (RFI) will be used to help develop DOE’s HALEU Availability Program and will also be considered by DOE in preparing its report to Congress.
“I am pleased that the Department of Energy is moving ahead with this announcement that will lead to a domestic supply of high-assay low enriched uranium in the United States,” said U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I have long supported the commercialization of advanced nuclear technologies as a zero-emission source of baseload energy, and I am committed to funding the Advanced Nuclear Fuel program as authorized in the Energy Act of 2020 to prevent reliance on Russia or other foreign suppliers to fuel the next generation of nuclear power. This program will help the U.S. maintain our nuclear supply chain, create high-paying manufacturing jobs, and reassert U.S. leadership on the international stage.”
“Advanced reactors are an incredible asset to have in our collective fight against climate change,” said Dr. Kathryn Huff, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy. “If we don’t proactively take the steps now to ensure a sufficient and diverse supply of HALEU, then reactor demonstration and deployment projects, like those funded in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, won’t be fueled in time to help us slow the impacts of climate change.”
HALEU is enriched between 5 percent and 20 percent with uranium-235, the main fissile isotope that produces energy during a chain reaction. The material is required by most U.S. advanced reactors to achieve smaller designs that get more power per unit of volume. Current reactor fuel is enriched up to 5 percent.
DOE projects that more than 40 metric tons of HALEU will be needed by 2030 with additional amounts required each year to deploy a new fleet of advanced reactors in a timeframe that supports the Administration’s net-zero emissions targets by 2050.
The full request for information can viewed on the Federal Register. Written comments and information are requested on or before January 13, 2022.
Electronic comments can be submitted to email@example.com in a Microsoft Word or a .pdf file. Please avoid the use of special characters or any form of encryption and include “Response to RFI” in the subject line.
Online responses will be accepted online at https://www.regulations.gov.
All submissions received must include the agency name for this RFI.
Faxes, postal mail and hand delivery or courier options are not available for this RFI. Any information that may be business proprietary and exempt by law from public disclosure should be submitted as described in “Section IV.”
Requests for additional information should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Daniel Vega – Daniel.email@example.com / (202) 586-0235
Michael Reim – Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org/ (202) 586-0509
*Please include “Question on HALEU RFI” in the subject line.