US-based Westinghouse has received a Direct Award Grant from the UK Department of Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to explore the development of Uranium Conversion Services at its Springfields facility in Lancashire, England.

The GBP13 million ($15.9m) award, supported by ongoing Westinghouse investment, will be used “to prepare the necessary design and enabling work to begin new conversion capability for the world’s utilities from 2028”. The proposed facility would provide both reprocessed (RepU) and naturally occurring Uranium (NIU) conversion services to utilities around the world as they seek to diversify supplies and transition from Russian-provided services.

“There is a strong global appetite for diversified and secure sources of supply of fuel and services and the UK’s nuclear excellence and experience, particularly at Springfields, offer utilities an attractive option,” said Tarik Choho Westinghouse President of Nuclear Fuel. “We are delighted the UK government recognises the role of Springfields, and its workforce, as a strategic asset that supports a clean and secure energy future.”

The Government said the site has strategic importance to producing fuel for the current UK advanced gas cooled reactor fleet. It said the funding will mean the UK has the option of being less reliant on imports from abroad and helps the company develop the capability to convert both reprocessed uranium and freshly mined uranium to make new fuel.

The Springfields site is currently operated by Springfields Fuels Ltd under the management of Westinghouse Electric UK under a 150-year lease from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

The grant is part of the GBP102 million in funding announced by the UK Government for nuclear and hydrogen technologies. This includes GBP77m to bolster nuclear fuel production and support the development of the next generation of advanced nuclear reactors, which includes the grant for Westinghouse. As well as bolstering UK energy security, ministers hope it will also deliver export opportunities for the sector and position the UK as a key international supplier of nuclear fuel and fuel cycle services.

Energy and climate minister Graham Stuart said: “This funding package will strengthen our energy security, by ensuring we have a safe and secure supply of domestic nuclear fuel services – while also creating more UK jobs and export opportunities.”

Image: Aerial view of the Springfields site (courtesy of Westinghouse)