Demand for a fuel enrichment range known as high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) is rapidly increasing, driven by potential new, advanced power reactors and performance enhancements to existing commercial power reactors. The HALEU Availability Program is addressing existing challenges to the U.S. infrastructure necessary for a commercial-scale enrichment operation that supplies this demand. However, there is an additional important parallel consideration for a timely transition to HALEU-based fuel cycles, in that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) must have the data necessary to perform safety evaluations to confirm the performance of industry designs. A significant component of that data is criticality benchmarks that are relevant for the specific proposed fuel forms, geometries, neutron absorbers, moderators for facility operations, and transportation at commercial scale. The commercial scale component is important, as it is currently possible to produce and transport fissile material at any enrichment in any fuel form in small quantities. The economic viability of HALEU-based fuel cycles is sensitive on being able to safely scale up the quantity for these specific types of fuel.

Congress has recognized this need, and as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, has allocated $100M to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop criticality safety data and support the industry with transportation challenges, where the latter is a separate activity. This project, through the development of publicly available data, will support the NRC in initiating, executing, and completing activities that will reduce the uncertainty associated with approving commercial-scale facility and transportation operations for the HALEU fuel cycle. 

This workshop is the first of a series that will cover several anticipated benchmarking needs with the following agenda.


11 - 11:05 a.m.Welcome/Introduction/KickoffDr. William Wieselquist, DNCSH National Technical Director
11:05 - 11:15 a.m.HALEU Availability ProgramMr. William McCaughey, Director, Advanced Fuels Technologies, DOE-NE
11:15 - 11:25 a.m.Project BackgroundMr. Don Algama, DOE-NE
11:25 - 11:35 a.m.Project GoalsMr. Andrew Barto, NRC

11:35 a.m. – 12:35 p.m.


Discussion of Considerations for HALEU-Based Fuel Cycle Validation Basis Assessment and Benchmark Prioritization, Including:

Current HALEU-Based Reactor Landscape and Transportation Packages 

Current Nuclear Data Gaps (e.g. TSL Uncertainty)

Dr. William B.J. Marshall

Dr. Iyad Al-Qasir

Dr. Mathieu Dupont

Dr. Lisa Fassino

12:35 – 1:05 p.m.Background on Validation Methods and the Need for Application Models 

Dr. William B.J. Marshall

Mr. Alex Shaw

1:05 – 1:30 p.m.Presentation of Recently Developed Criticality Safety Application Models 

Dr. William B.J. Marshall

Mr. Alex Shaw

Dr. Veronica Karriem

1:30 – 2:15 p.m.Open Discussion 

The workshop is intended to bring participants up to speed on the current DOE/NRC assessment of gaps in validation and nuclear data for HALEU-based fuel cycles and collect feedback that will be used to inform the first FOA for benchmark proposals. Currently this project is intending to fund three rounds of benchmark funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), for approximately $10M in benchmarks each round, seeking to cover as generically as possible the diverse landscape of HALEU-based fuel cycles. Detailed notes will be taken during the workshop and provided to all participants and summarized in a DNCSH report for those who could not attend.

This is a public workshop hosted remotely by the NRC, using Microsoft Teams. To receive a Teams link and be added to the email list for communications regarding the workshop please register here.

For additional information, please reach out to the national technical director for this effort, Dr. William Wieselquist, at