Full Title: Fueling American Reactors: A Tale of Two Nuclear Bills
Author(s): Ryan Norman, Alan Ahn
Publisher(s): Third Way
Publication Date: June 9, 2022
Full Text: Download Resource
Enriched uranium fuels are the lifeblood of our nuclear reactors. For civilian nuclear power, these fuels are typically characterized in two classes: low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel used to power conventional light water reactors (LWRs) and high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) needed to power many advanced reactor technologies. Russia is a major global provider of LEU fuel services and is currently the only commercial supplier of HALEU in the world. Thus, the need to secure uranium fuel supply and ensure long-term availability is even more urgent in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Without a reliable supply of nuclear fuel, we risk our energy security, technological leadership, and climate goals, among other national priorities.
Thankfully, policymakers are taking this problem seriously and are coming up with practical solutions. Two bills have been recently introduced in the Senate that include strategic nuclear fuel availability programs and robust multi-year funding authorizations. The International Nuclear Energy Act of 2022, introduced by Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and James Risch (R-ID), is a broad bill designed to promote international use of US civil nuclear technology and counter global reliance on Russia and China. The Fueling Our Nuclear Future Act, introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), specifically targets the establishment of domestic HALEU enrichment capability and the availability of HALEU for the upcoming Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) demonstrations.
This blog identifies the key fuel provisions within the nuclear bills and highlights the significance of these fuel investments to the nuclear fuels supply chain.