US-based Nano Nuclear Energy has been selected as a founding member of the US Department of Energy’s HALEU (high-assay low-enriched uranium) Consortium. This came after Nano Nuclear earlier in February established a new subsidiary – HALEU Energy Fuel. The HALEU Consortium was established in 2022 to support the availability of HALEU for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use. Nano says HALEU Energy Fuel “will play a crucial role in the collaboration with the DOE on the future of North America’s HALEU fuel pipeline, reinforcing the United States energy sovereignty”.

The HALEU Consortium recently met with DOE officials in its first meeting. Centrus Energy Corp, Dow Chemical, TerraPower, and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) were among those also announced as founding members.

“I have always been supportive to establish a strong supply of HALEU during my tenure at numerous national laboratories,” said, Nano’s Head of Nuclear Laboratory & Technologies Dr Jeffrey L Binder. “I’m glad to see steps being taken to ensure a domestic source of HALEU will be a cornerstone of the next evolution of the nuclear energy industry and provide a reliable fuel source for the future of advanced nuclear reactors.”

The consortium will provide a forum through which DOE will work with individual members to support the availability of HALEU for civilian domestic demonstration and commercial use. It will also develop arrangements to provide HALEU to individual members for demonstration projects and commercial uses.

Russia is currently the only commercial source of HALEU and accounted for nearly 40% of global uranium conversion services in 2020. The US is now looking to develop its own HALEU production facilities in face of concerns about energy independence. The US Congress directed DOE to establish a HALEU availability programme in the Energy Act of 2020 and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently approved Centrus Energy’s request to make HALEU fuel at its enrichment facility in Piketon, Ohio. Moreover, in the recently signed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) some $700m was allocated to develop a domestic supply chain for HALEU.