Home » Bechtel to support expansion of Urenco uranium facility

Bechtel to support expansion of Urenco uranium facility

by Mark Cantrell
Bechtel will support the expansion of a key facility for processing uranium tails – an essential contributor to the generation of more nuclear energy

Urenco has selected Bechtel to support the expansion of its facilities for processing uranium fuel products for the nuclear power industry.

The company, which specialises in the supply of nuclear enrichment services and fuel cycle products, has chosen Bechtel to support the expansion of a key facility for processing uranium tails – an essential contributor to the generation of more nuclear energy.

The Tails Management Facility (TMF) at Urenco’s site in Capenhurst, England is the only one of its kind in the UK. It stores low concentration uranium ‘tails’ for further use, or conversion to a chemically stable form for disposal.

Uranium is the most widely used fuel by nuclear power plants, and this TMF will help enable the UK’s nuclear energy security strategy, which includes plans to deliver 24GW of new nuclear capacity by 2050, providing about a quarter of the domestic electricity supply.  

Chris Chater, Urenco’s chief technical officer, said: “We’re delighted to partner with Bechtel as we look forward to expanding our TMF in the UK and positioning ourselves more widely to increase capacity in the nuclear fuel supply chain.

“Bechtel will be bringing with them years of experience in delivering complex engineering projects and this is key as we embark on the first project in our capital investment programme.

“Nuclear power alongside renewables will play an important part in the clean energy transition and we are committed to delivering for a sustainable, net zero world.”

Bechtel will provide front end engineering and design (FEED) services for the expansion project. This will enable Urenco to convert more ‘tails’ of depleted uranium hexafluoride for safe storage, and produce hydrogen fluoride for the use in refrigerants, pharmaceuticals and more.

Michelle De Franca, Bechtel’s managing director of infrastructure in the UK and Ireland said: “Urenco shares our commitment to achieving a sustainable net zero carbon future. We look forward to supporting them as they increase production of clean nuclear fuel that’s essential for the energy transition.” 

‘Tails’ are the by-product of uranium enrichment. As more nuclear power is added to national energy portfolios, more processing of ‘tails’ will be needed. Russia has been a large producer of enriched uranium, and as countries are looking to enhance their energy security and address future energy needs, there is increased demand for production in the West. 

Cavendish Nuclear will support Bechtel as its sub-consultant. Bechtel and Cavendish Nuclear have an established track record of successfully working together for UK customers at Sellafield, the UK’s oldest nuclear storage facility, and through its collaboration to support infrastructure upgrade work for the Royal Navy in Devonport.

Read next: Costain wins two-year nuclear contract with EDF

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