BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BWXT) announced Friday that its Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. (NFS) subsidiary was awarded a contract valued at $505 million for the downblending of 20.2 metric tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU) to produce low enriched uranium (LEU) suitable for use as commercial nuclear reactor fuel and for national defense programs.
NFS will provide downblending services to the Tennessee Valley Authority, with work expected to begin in early 2019 and run through mid-2025. The work supports the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) defense programs objectives. Under prior contracts, NFS has downblended about 70 metric tons of HEU for the NNSA. This is the largest single downblending contract in NFS history.
“We are exceedingly pleased to partner with TVA to perform this critical work for the NNSA,” said Rex Geveden, BWXT’s president and chief executive officer. “This contract award speaks to the truly unique capabilities in nuclear materials processing at BWXT and edifies one of our key lines of business.”
"Uranium used in nuclear weapons is enriched to approximately 93 percent U-235, while uranium used as fuel in commercial nuclear power plants typically is enriched to 3 - 5 percent U-235. Uranium enriched to more than 20 percent U-235 is called Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) and can only be used in nuclear weapons and in research reactors. Surplus HEU can, however, be downblended to Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) to make it suitable for use in commercial nuclear fuel," according to the Word Information Services on Energy's Uranium Porject.
BWXT has been downblending HEU since 1995, when it was selected by the U.S. Government to downblend a stockpile of HEU as part of Project Sapphire, an operation focused on removing 1,322 pounds of Alfa-class submarine fuel (90 percent U-235) from Kazakhstan.
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