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HEU to LEU Conversion (Downblending)

HEU to LEU Conversion (Downblending)

A significant tool in America's non-proliferation effort, NFS' high-enriched uranium (HEU) to low-enriched uranium (LEU) conversion technology is now considered the best available technology for eliminating HEU as a potential target of terrorists when compared to long-term storage or burial in a government-owned facility. NFS continues to downblend HEU to produce LEU, helping achieve uranium management objectives. 

The downblending process was envisioned at the end of the Cold War by NFS and was brought to life through a historic project for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in the late 1990s. The U.S. government deeded the HEU to TVA for conversion into LEU fuel material for its commercial power reactors.

The U.S. government invested a great deal in the uranium enrichment process. Much of the HEU is now surplus. NFS performed downblending services that unlocked the value contained in 33 metric tons of surplus HEU, delivering 1.2 million pounds of LEU for fabrication. TVA saved millions of dollars on the purchase of LEU fuel by “reusing” existing stockpiles of HEU rather than purchasing new LEU fuel material that had been enriched from natural uranium by conventional methods. The project helped TVA maintain some of the lowest electrical power rates in the nation.