PDT Staff Writer
USEC Inc. has completed construction of its American Centrifuge commercial demonstration cascade at Piketon. The 120-machine cascade is the centerpiece of a cooperative research, development and demonstration program (RD&D) with the U.S. Department of Energy. That program is intended to reduce technical risks and improve the future prospects of commercial deployment of the American Centrifuge technology.
“Completing construction of the demonstration cascade is a major step toward achieving the objectives of the RD&D program,” Glenn Strausser, director of engineering, procurement and construction for the American Centrifuge project, said. “We completed cascade construction with an outstanding safety record, and the RD&D program remains on schedule and within budget. The experience we gained will be invaluable as we move forward with deployment of the full commercial plant.”
“This was a complete team effort between all project areas,” Dan Rogers, general manager of American Centrifuge Plant operations, said. “We look forward to completing systems testing and beginning operations to confirm the technical readiness of the American Centrifuge technology.”
Construction activities included preparing the cascade for machine installation, making physical improvements to the facilities, removing existing cascade support equipment and installing new infrastructure systems. The plant operations group has also populated the cascade with its full complement of 120 centrifuges. With cascade construction complete, the project team will continue system testing in preparation for formal integrated systems testing required before the cascade becomes operational later this year.
Cascade construction involved more than 300 workers, including many local union tradesmen who worked more than 150,000 man-hours without a recordable injury or lost-time accident. The RD&D program as a whole supports more than 1,100 jobs and utilizes more than 160 companies from 28 states.
Workers completed more than 700 structural welds, many of which were classified as “Quality Level 1,” requiring rigorous effort and oversight. Electricians installed 4,000 feet of cable tray, more than five miles of conduit and more than 60 miles of cables.
USEC and DOE are executing a $350 million cooperative RD&D program to confirm the technical readiness of the American Centrifuge technology, the next-generation U.S. uranium enrichment technology. The program is within budget and on schedule to be completed in December 2013.
The RD&D program supports building, installing, operating, and testing commercial plant support systems and a 120-machine cascade that would be incorporated in the full commercial plant of 96 identical cascades in Piketon.
The cooperative agreement between USEC and DOE defines the scope, funding and technical goals for the program. The total investment in the program will be up to $350 million, with DOE providing 80 percent, and USEC providing 20 percent of the total. The RD&D program is currently funded through June 15, 2013.
The recently enacted Fiscal Year 2013 continuing appropriations resolution included additional funding for continued work on the RD&D program at an annual rate of $110 million, which is expected to fund the RD&D program through Sept. 30, 2013. The Company will continue to work with Congress and the administration to fund the RD&D program through December 2013 to achieve the remaining program milestones.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.