BWXT handling uranium projects for Navy, DOE nuclear programs

By Rod Walton, Power Engineering and POWERGEN content director

Virginia-based BWXT Nuclear Operations Group (NOG) has won more than $35 million on contracts to provide uranium recovery, conversion, and construction of a new reactor fuel line for federal customers.

The subsidiary of BWX Technologies Inc. gained the $17.4 million contract from the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program to recover valuable uranium from scrap, waste and unused product. This could be converted into fuel to feed future Naval nuclear program activities.

BWXT owns the only two Category 1 nuclear facilities licensed by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to store and process highly enriched uranium. Its work for the recovery program began at the BWXT NOG facility in Lynchburg, Va. And is expected to be completed by June 2022.

Meanwhile, the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration awarded a $17.9 million contract. Under this deal, BWXT’s NOG will complete the second phase of construction on a new research reactor fuel line.

“These awards showcase BWXT’s unique capabilities in processing and manufacturing nuclear fuels, our long history fueling research reactors and our dedication to enhanced global security,” Joel W. Duling, president of BWXT NOG, said in a statement.

Thirteen months ago, the DOE’s NNSA awarded the initial $3.6 million contract to BWXT NOG to manufacture a uranium-molybdenum alloy high assay low enriched (HALEU) uranium fuel. This fuel is intended to facilitate conversion of high-performance U.S. research reactors from the current use of high-enriched uranium.

Research reactors are used to perform critical science experiments for advancement of nuclear physics, engineering, chemistry, materials science, biology and medicine.

See our coverage of the nuclear power sector

BWXT has been working with the DOE NNSA since 2006 on developing alternatives to the high-enriched uranium currently used.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulates 31 operating research and test reactors. 

(Rod Walton is content director for Power Engineering, POWERGEN International and the online POWERGEN+ series. He can be reached at 918-831-9177 and rod.walton@clarionevents.com).

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