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09 July 2019

In a recent article for the Virginian-Pilot, Strauss Distinguished Scholar, Dr. Alan Kuperman, discussed the need for Congress to fund naval fuel research. Kuperman’s commentary comes on the heels of a recent amendment, offered by Representative Elaine Luria, to remove research funding from the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

At present, Kuperman explains, the Navy’s reactor fuel for submarines and aircraft carriers is made of highly enriched uranium (HEU), “identical to that in nuclear weapons.” Since 2016, Congress has authorized and appropriated money for the research and development of fuel made from “‘low-enriched’ uranium, the same class used in civilian power plants.” Fuel from low-enriched uranium, explains Kuperman, would eliminate a number of security concerns associated with using HEU, and it would prevent the Navy from exhausting its limited, existing supply of HEU for fuel. Kuperman criticizes the amendment that would do away with the research program and stresses the need for funding the Navy’s efforts to potentially modify nuclear fuel.

 

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