USEC Inc. and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are engaged in ‘advanced but ongoing discussions,’ regarding the future of the American Centrifuge project, USEC said in a 21 October statement.
The discussions centre on whether USE and DOE should work jointly in a Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) programme to reduce the technology and financial risk of commercialization of the American Centrifuge technology.
The RD&D programme is expected to involve manufacturing and operating additional production-design machines so that key systems can be tested as they would actually operate at the scale necessary for full commercialization, according to USEC.
Contemplated in the discussions is a cost-sharing agreement for the RD&D programme. The cost share would consist of an 80%-20% federal-private split during an initial technical verification phase and a 20%-80% split for the balance of the RD&D programme. The federal government's total contribution would be capped at $300 million.
USEC said it is working with its strategic investors to determine how best to structure ongoing investment in the project and move forward with this RD&D programme and future commercialization. Should an agreement on the RD&D program and funding be reached, further demobilization of the American Centrifuge project would be avoided.
USEC has previously announced that it will reduce spending on its American Centrifuge Plant by around 30% in October. It has also undertaken planning for possible demobilization from November if it does not get a conditional commitment on a US Department of Energy loan guarantee.
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