Research and Medical Isotope Reactor Supply

Our goal is to fuel research and test reactors with low-enriched uranium. Y‑12 tops the short list of the world's most secure, reliable uranium feedstock suppliers for dozens of research and test reactors on six continents. These reactors can be used to test materials, irradiate new reactor fuel designs and produce medical isotopes for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, as examples.

The LEU is used to fabricate fuel for the reactors or for targets for medical isotope production. Y‑12 supplies LEU to over 80 percent of the world’s research reactors that have converted from highly enriched uranium or were designed for using LEU, excluding former Soviet Union and Chinese reactors. The use of LEU greatly reduces the nuclear proliferation risk, making the world safer.

We also create new technology in support of these missions. For instance, Y‑12 developed the ES 3100 Type B shipping container to provide safe, secure transportation for nuclear materials. This state-of-the-art container has capabilities that far exceed its predecessor. The ES 3100 accommodates many forms of highly enriched uranium and other nuclear materials in bulk quantities for both ground and air transport and uses a patented insulation technology and a containment system with a criticality-safe geometry.

 

Material for Peaceful Uses

Y‑12 creates innovative solutions that convert weapons grade enriched uranium to forms for peaceful uses (e.g., commercial nuclear power, material science, and medical applications). One converted nuclear warhead used in commercial nuclear power can produce enough electricity to power every American home for 2 hours.