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Hexcel has agreed with USEC and Alliant Techsystems to supply carbon fibre required for USEC’s planned American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) for the enrichment of uranium for commercial nuclear power reactors.
The centrifuge method of enrichment will use over 11,500 rotor tubes and is more cost effective than the alternative gas diffusion enrichment process. Traditionally the rotors were made of aluminum alloy, steel or fibreglass, but switching to stronger and lighter weight carbon fibre allows for increased efficiency.
In September 2006 ATK announced that it had started demonstration and qualification work on composite rotor tubes for the ACP. USEC received a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to construct the ACP in April 2007. Hexcel currently estimates that carbon fibre sales for the initial 3.8 million separative work units (SWU) plant will be approximately $100 million starting in late 2008, with the majority of deliveries likely to be in the 2010 and 2011 depending on USEC and ATK’s manufacturing schedule. The agreement contemplates that USEC also may purchase significant quantities of additional carbon fibre product needed for the ACP.
Mr. David E. Berges, Hexcel’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said “”Hexcel is very pleased to be part of the USEC project which has the potential for additional production to follow. We also welcome this opportunity to reinforce our long standing relationship as a supplier to ATK. We previously announced that we are targeting increasing the penetration of our carbon fibre into high-end industrial applications, and the USEC application complements this strategy. Our capacity additions for carbon fibre will be capable of supporting both aerospace and this segment of the industrial market interchangeably.””
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