GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s (GEH) Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) announced receipt of its license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build a groundbreaking laser enrichment facility on the 1,600-acre site of the company’s global headquarters in Wilmington, N.C.
While a commercialization decision must still be made by the company, the license enables GLE to build a first-of-its-kind uranium enrichment facility using lasers conceived of by Australian technology company SILEX and developed by GLE experts. The company has worked with the NRC, the U.S. departments of State and Energy and independent non-proliferation experts for several years to ensure the security of this technology and has met—and in many cases exceeded—all regulations pertaining to safeguarding this technology.
“Receiving our NRC license is a tremendous accomplishment and strong testament to everyone involved in this project,” said Chris Monetta, president and CEO of Global Laser Enrichment. “The technology we’ve developed could be one of the keys to the nation’s long-term energy security. At a minimum, it could provide a steady supply of uranium enriched right here in the U.S. to the country’s nuclear reactors. These reactors provide approximately 20 percent of the nation’s electricity today and will continue to be an important part of the energy mix for decades to come.
Today, a majority of enriched uranium made to produce nuclear fuel in the United States comes from foreign or government-supplemented sources. The GLE license, applied for in June 2009, will allow the laser enrichment plant to produce up to 6 million single work units (SWU) per year in the United States.
The next step in the process is for the company to make a commercialization decision. This decision will be based on several factors.
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GE Hitachi Nuclear secures NRC license to make laser enrichment of uranium a reality