The centrifuge method of enrichment will use over 11 500 rotor tubes and is said to be more cost effective than the alternative gas diffusion enrichment process. The rotors are traditionally made of aluminium alloy, steel or fibreglass, but efficiency can be increased by switching to stronger, lighter weight carbon fibre.

Hexcel estimates that carbon fibre sales for the initial 3.8 million separative works units (SWU) plant will be around US$100 million starting in late 2008, with the majority of deliveries likely to be in 2010 and 2011.

“Hexcel is very pleased to be part of the USEC project which has the potential for additional production to follow,” says David E. Berges, Hexcel's chairman and CEO. “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.”