BWX Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: BWXT) announced today that the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has awarded an initial $3.6 million contract to the BWXT Nuclear Operations Group, Inc. subsidiary as the manufacturer of a uranium-molybdenum alloy High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (U-Mo HALEU) fuel that will facilitate the conversion of high-performance U.S. research reactors from the current use of high-enriched uranium.
The contract funds engineering work for the decommissioning and refurbishment of portions of the Lynchburg, Virginia, facility for future production of U-Mo HALEU.
Research reactors are used to perform critical science experiments for the advancement of nuclear physics, engineering, nuclear chemistry, materials science, biology and medicine. Although these high-performance research reactors currently rely on high-enriched uranium as fuel, BWXT has been working independently and in concert with NNSA since 2006 to develop U-Mo HALEU fuel that is designed to retain the reactors’ performance while lowering the proliferation risk. This project was undertaken in support of NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation and its research reactor conversion program, which encourages the conversion of domestic and international civilian research reactors and medical isotope production facilities to the use of non-weapons grade materials.
“We are excited to be selected by NNSA to continue our long and successful history of fueling research reactors,” said BWXT Nuclear Operations Group, Inc. President Joel W. Duling. “This development represents the intersection of our missions to enhance global security and lead nuclear innovation.”
BWXT has been supplying fuel elements and assemblies for research and test reactors for decades and is the only North American supplier of fuel-bearing components for reactors at national laboratories, colleges and universities. The integration of U-Mo HALEU fuel alloy processing at the same BWXT facility used to produce research reactors’ fuel-bearing components will have significant benefits for quality, cost and logistics.
This award will allow BWXT to begin preparation activities for fabricating U-Mo HALEU at the uranium processing facility in Lynchburg, Virginia. Assuming additional future awards, BWXT anticipates that fuel production could begin by 2024.