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Global Laser Enrichment
In the 2000s, GE, Hitachi and Cameco entered into a business venture—Global Laser Enrichment (GLE)—to develop uranium enrichment services capability.
The GLE business has exclusive rights to commercially develop the SILEX laser isotope separation process technology under an agreement reached with Silex Systems Limited of Australia in early 2006. In October 2006, GE received the required U.S. government authorizations to proceed with the technology exchange. Hitachi and Cameco joined GE in this venture in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
Over the past several years, GLE has advanced the technology, successfully illustrating the concept through a test loop facility in Wilmington, N.C.
In September 2012, GLE received the world’s first license to operate a laser enrichment facility from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). 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.
U.S. Department of Energy
In November 2013, GLE entered into exclusive negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy for the potential establishment of a commercial uranium tails processing facility in Paducah, Kentucky. In November 2016 DOE announced an agreement to sell depleted uranium to GLE.
Pace of Development
Due to continued and forecasted pressure on the price of natural and light enriched uranium globally, in July 2014, GLE announced plans to pace continued development of the technology in line with current and future market realities. The program continues to focus on developing the most important components of this generation three uranium enrichment technology. In 2016 GEH announced its desire to reduce its equity interest in GLE.