USEC has been established as Exelon’s ‘primary’ enrichment supplier, supplying more than half its requirements in a multi-year agreement, worth $700 million, announced in June.

Under the contract USEC will supply Exelon with SWU for six years, 2005-2010. Exelon president Oliver Kingsley said, “We will play an important role in USEC’s megatons to megawatts national security programme as well as its demonstration and deployment of American Centrifuge technology.” USEC’s American Centrifuge programme builds on US DoE R&D into the technology. A demonstration facility with a lead cascade of up to 240 centrifuge machines is scheduled to begin operation in 2005 at either the company’s Portsmouth or Paducah site. A licence application was submitted to the NRC in March this year. It is expected to provide yield cost, schedule and performance data before USEC begins construction of a billion-dollar commercial plant whose site will be chosen in 2004.

‘Megatons to megawatts’ is a programme begun ten years ago to dispose of 500t of Russian weapons-grade HEU. Under a commercial contract Russia downblends the HEU into LEU, which USEC uses to fuel its customers power plants.

USEC says utilities choose whether to have their enrichment from its Russian or domestic sources. It expects to ramp down production at its gaseous diffusion plant as American Centrifuge comes on line late in the decade. It aims for full production in 2010-11.

Exelon’s 17 reactors on 10 sites produce around a fifth of the US’s nuclear electricity. The generator is a limited partner in Louisiana Energy Services, the consortium planning to build a new enrichment facility in Hartsville, Tennessee. It will have a capacity of three million SWU and is due to start up in 2007.