The US Department of Energy (DOE) has established a high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) consortium. The Consortium will help to inform DOE activities to secure a domestic supply of HALEU, which is considered crucial for the development and deployment of advanced reactors in the USA. Membership is free and open to any US entity, association, and government organisation involved in the nuclear fuel cycle. It also may include organisations whose facilities are in ally or partner nations designated by DOE.

The HALEU Consortium is part of the HALEU Availability Program, established under the Energy Act of 2020, to support the availability of Haleu for civilian domestic research, development, demonstration, and commercial use. HALEU is not available at commercial scale from domestic suppliers and could threaten the deployment of advanced reactors if not addressed.

Currently, there is a very limited domestic capacity to provide HALEU from either DOE or commercial sources. This presents a significant obstacle to the development and deployment of advanced reactors and increases the risk of private investment to develop an assured supply of HALEU or to support the infrastructure required to produce it.

The purposes of the HALEU Consortium include to:

  • Provide the Secretary of Energy with HALEU demand estimates for domestic commercial use.
  • Purchase HALEU made available to members for commercial use under the programme.
  • Carry out demonstration projects using HALEU under the programme.
  • Identify actionable opportunities to improve the reliability of the HALEU supply chain.

Image: Several reactor systems supported under the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program require HALEU, including X-energy’s XE-100 High Temperature Gas-Cooled Reactor and TerraPower’s Natrium Sodium-Cooled Fast Reactor (courtesy of USDOE)