GLE plans to build first commercial uranium enrichment plant using laser technology

July 17, 2009--Global Laser Enrichment (GLE; Wilmington, NC), a business venture of GE, Hitachi, and uranium producer Cameco announced a landmark in the deployment of its proposed, next-generation enrichment facility designed to increase the U.S.' supply of enriched uranium to fuel its nuclear power plants. GLE has completed its license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build the world's first commercial uranium enrichment facility to use laser technology.

Jul 17th, 2009

July 17, 2009--Global Laser Enrichment (GLE; Wilmington, NC), a business venture of GE, Hitachi, and uranium producer Cameco (see 'Uranium laser enrichment' news brief), announced a landmark in the deployment of its proposed, next-generation enrichment facility designed to increase the U.S.' supply of enriched uranium to fuel its nuclear power plants. GLE has completed its license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build the world's first commercial uranium enrichment facility to use laser technology.

The new facility, to be built in Wilmington, NC, would produce a new domestic supply of low-enriched uranium used to power nuclear plants to meet an anticipated increase in global demand. The facility also would help support the country's goal to reduce carbon emissions through the expanded use of nuclear energy, which creates virtually no greenhouse gases during the electricity generation process. If approved, GLE's facility could help drive U.S. job creation, including up to 300 permanent engineering and support staff positions and more than 500 construction jobs.

In 2006, GLE acquired the exclusive rights to develop and commercialize the third-generation uranium enrichment technology globally through a license from Silex Systems of Australia (see "Silex uranium-enrichment scheme may not be mature enough for practical use"). In 2008, Cameco, one of the world's largest uranium producers, acquired a 24% ownership stake in GLE.

Global demand for low-enriched uranium is expected to increase significantly in the coming years. First, a major supply of low-enriched uranium for U.S. nuclear power plants will cease in 2013, with the expiration of a program to convert Russian weapons-grade material into nuclear plant fuel (commonly known as "Megatons to Megawatts"). Also, the anticipated construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants is expected to further intensify the demand for fuel. Photonics enthusiasts hope the supply of spent fuel from nuclear power plants will be consumed by such projects as LIFE (see "NIF is precursor to LIFE project").

"Our goal is to enable an efficient and effective review of our innovative technology by providing a quality, complete application to the NRC," said Tammy Orr, president and CEO of GLE. "Submitting the highest-quality product has been our priority for this significant licensing process milestone." The NRC's estimated 30-month application review will officially begin once the agency formally dockets, or accepts, the GLE application.

For more information, go to www.genewscenter.com.

--Posted by Gail Overton, gailo@pennwell.com; www.laserfocusworld.com.

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