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Current Issues: New Uranium Conversion/Enrichment and Nuclear Fuel Plant Projects - USA   flag

(last updated 25 Apr 2024)

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General

U.S. DOE funds projects to explore nuclear waste reprocessing

The Biden administration on Friday (Oct. 21) said it is funding projects to recycle nuclear waste from power plants including through reprocessing, a technology that has not been practiced in the United States for decades because of concerns about costs and proliferation.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy , or ARPA-E, aims to develop a dozen projects to recycle the waste, also known as spent nuclear fuel, with $38 million in funding. A Department of Energy agency, ARPA-E supports research into high-risk but potentially transformational projects. (Reuters Oct. 21, 2022)
> View: ARPA-E release, Oct. 21, 2022

 

State legislators contemplate uranium conversion facilities in Wyoming

Legislators are investigating ways to allow for potential uranium conversion facilities in Wyoming, the next step in the development of enriched uranium, which can be used in nuclear power reactors. The Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee , which chooses mineral-related topics to be considered in next year's legislative session, also decided at a meeting Monday (Oct. 10) to update obsolete language in Wyoming law that addresses potential nuclear waste storage in the state.
Wyoming's uranium industry is confined to mining, with four companies that dig precious yellowcake from the ground. After that, the uranium is shipped out of the state. In an attempt to add value before that product leaves the state's borders, the Wyoming Business Council is investigating uranium conversion facilities. (Star-Tribune Oct. 15, 2016)

 

Rosatom in talks to build uranium enrichment plant in the U.S.

Russia's atomic agency Rosatom is in talks to build a uranium enrichment plant in the United States, its chief executive was quoted as saying on Wednesday (Aug. 25). In an interview with the Financial Times, Sergei Kiriyenko declined to provide details on the U.S. deal. (Reuters Aug. 25, 2010)

 

Mitsubishi and Areva to build nuclear fuel fabrication plant in USA

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) and Areva confirmed they are doing necessary preparation to jointly invest (MHI 50% and Areva 50%) in a dedicated nuclear fuel fabrication facility to be built in the United States. (Areva, Mitsubishi Feb. 18, 2009)

 

NRC to hold workshop on the future of uranium conversion/deconversion facilities

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is holding a workshop on February 22, 2008, with stakeholders to seek comment on the proposed quantity thresholds of uranium hexafluoride and uranium tetrafluoride either used for, or derived from, the conversion of uranium oxide to uranium hexafluoride and/or for the deconversion of depleted uranium hexafluoride to an oxide.
> Download NRC announcement Jan. 16, 2008 (ADAMS ML080090098)

 


High Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU)

> View here

 


Conversion



Laser enrichment


ASP Isotopes Inc. HALEU Laser Enrichment Plant project

ADAMS Docket No. ???

 

ASP Isotopes Inc. announces HALEU Laser Enrichment Plant project: ASP Isotopes Inc. announced that it has signed a memorandum of understanding with a second US-based SMR (Small Modular Reactor) company to establish a facility for producing High Assay Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU), a critical fuel for next-generation nuclear reactors.
The Quantum Enrichment process, an advanced isotope enrichment technique that is currently under development by ASP Isotopes and its subsidiary, Quantum Leap Energy LLC (QLE), is intended to revolutionize HALEU production. (ASP Isotopes Inc. Nov. 27, 2027)

 


GLE Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility project, Kentucky

NRC Docket No.
NRC License No.

Test loop for GLE's Paducah Laser Enrichment plant obtains NRC approval to load UF6

On 26 March 2024, Silex Systems Limited advised that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has completed an inspection of Global Laser Enrichment LLC's (GLE) Test Loop pilot demonstration facility and operational safety programs in Wilmington, North Carolina, providing the approval for GLE to load UF6 feed material in preparation for the start of TRL-6 enrichment testing.
The NRC's recent review and approval of GLE's Test Loop facility and operations clears the way for the final preparations for TRL-6 enrichment testing, which is expected to commence in Q2 2024.
Subject to the successful completion of the TRL-6 pilot demonstration project, industry and government support, a feasibility assessment for the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (PLEF), suitable market conditions, and other factors, this preserves the option to commence commercial operations at the planned PLEF in Kentucky as early as 2028.

DOE's authority to sell depleted uranium to GLE for re-enrichment doubtful, GAO finds

The Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) has an agreement to sell DUF6 to a private company, Global Laser Enrichment (GLE). The agreement reserves about 24,300 cylinders of DUF6 located at the Paducah site for future sale. EM would sell DUF6 to GLE in exchange for natural uranium hexafluoride. According to EM officials, selling the agreed-upon amount of DUF6 to GLE could save EM an estimated 24 years of conversion operations and potentially over $2 billion in operating costs. This agreement is contingent on GLE constructing and beginning operations of a laser enrichment facility at the Paducah site by the end of 2030. [...]
In addition to the approximately 24,300 cylinders already reserved under the current agreement, GLE has also expressed interest in acquiring additional DUF6 cylinders at the Portsmouth site that are currently reserved for NNSA. According to GLE representatives, they are interested in all DUF6 with an assay level at or above 0.25 percent uranium-235. However, they also said that they would be open to evaluating DUF6 of other assay levels for use. [...]
EM officials believe that they have the authority to sell DUF6 to GLE. According to EM officials, the Department of Energy Organization Act and the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, authorize EM to enter into agreements and to sell, transfer, exchange, store, and accept special nuclear, source, and by-product material. However, as we stated in 2008, we believe that DOE's legal authority to sell its depleted uranium inventory is doubtful. [...]
Clarifying DOE's legal authority to sell DUF6 may help DOE avoid litigation that could interrupt DOE's efforts to sell DUF6. [...]
> Download: NUCLEAR WASTE CLEANUP, DOE's Efforts to Manage Depleted Uranium Would Benefit from Clearer Legal Authorities , GAO-22-105471, United States Government Accountability Office, July 2022 (2MB PDF)

Start up of Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility project for re-enrichment of depleted uranium tails deferred to late 2020s

On June 5, 2020, Silex Systems Limited announced the execution of an amendment to the 2016 Sales Agreement between Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) and the US Department of Energy (DOE) involving changes to certain provisions and timelines which re-align the agreement to current market conditions.
The amendment ensures the agreement between the DOE and GLE remains in effect through to the anticipated recovery in the nuclear fuel markets, allowing GLE sufficient time to complete its project plan for the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (PLEF). Subject to completion of the technology commercialisation project, regulatory approvals and prevailing market conditions, it is anticipated the PLEF will commence commercial operations in the late 2020's.
The tails re-enrichment project at the PLEF would continue over several decades, resulting in the production of natural grade uranium which could then be sold into the expanding global uranium market at a production rate of around 2,000 metric tons of natural uranium in the form of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) per year.

DOE sells depleted uranium tails for re-enrichment at Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility project

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to sell depleted uranium from the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant to enrich at a new state-of-the-art facility in western Kentucky. Construction and operation of the $1 billion facility by GE-Hitachi's Global Laser Enrichment is estimated to bring approximately 800 to 1,200 jobs to the local community. (WKMS Nov. 10, 2016)

Depressed uranium market hampering project of laser enrichment plant for tails re-enrichment at Paducah

Market conditions and investor changes appear to have slowed progress toward a planned laser uranium enrichment facility near the U.S. Department of Energy's Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Local, state and federal officials applauded the announcement three years ago by Global Laser Enrichment, a subsidiary of GE-Hitachi, that it had entered into exclusive negotiations with the U.S. Department of Energy for the sale of the depleted uranium hexafluoride inventory and potential construction of a commercial uranium tails processing facility in Paducah. [...]
Earlier this year, GE-Hitachi announced its desire to reduce its equity interest in GLE, according to information on its website.
In Silex's 2016 annual report, Michael Goldsworthy, CEO/managing director, noted: "The global nuclear fuel markets remained depressed during the year and continued to create a challenging business environment for Silex and GLE." In a restructuring agreement, Silex has an option to become a shareholder in GLE and will take the lead in searching for new investors, according to Goldsworthy. [...]
The process of transferring the land for the GLE facility from state to local control for use in economic development is underway, according to officials with the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization. [...]
Paducah Mayor Gayle Kaler said she would still like to see the GLE project materialize but understands the current economic realities. "It's not dead (GLE)," she said. "It's that uranium prices are so low that it doesn't make economic sense to invest in a facility like that at this time." (Paducah Sun Oct. 23, 2016)

Cameco writes down complete CDN$ 184 million investment in GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE)

"During the quarter, a decision was made by the majority partner of GLE to significantly reduce funding of the project. As a result, Cameco recognized an impairment charge of $183,615,000, which represents the full amount of Cameco's investment." (Cameco Oct. 29, 2014)

License application for Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility project to be filed in September 2014

On Jan. 20, 2014, Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) advised the NRC of GLE's intent to prepare a license application for the authority to construct and operate a laser enrichment facility under 10 CFR Part 70. GLE expects to submit the license application for the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (PLEF) by September 2014.

DOE selects GLE proposal for re-enrichment of depleted uranium stocks with laser-based uranium enrichment plant to be built at Paducah site

> View here

GE-Hitachi proposes to build laser-based uranium enrichment plant at Paducah site

GE-Hitachi has submitted a proposal for the beleaguered Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant that could help preserve many of the 1,200 jobs there. The plant had been scheduled to close last year, but a deal reached in May kept it open for another year. It currently is enriching depleted uranium for the Tennessee Valley Authority and for a Washington state utility called Energy Northwest. The Paducah Sun reports GE-Hitachi is proposing to build a new laser-based uranium enrichment plant at the site. (AP Feb. 24, 2013)
> See also: DOE request for expressions of interest for Paducah gaseous diffusion enrichment plant facilities and DOE depleted and off-specification UF6 inventories

Silex evaluates opportunity to build laser enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky, to re-enrich depleted uranium

On Nov. 20, 2012, Silex Systems Limited confirmed that a preliminary evaluation is being undertaken regarding the potential to build an additional enrichment plant using the SILEX Technology at the site of the existing gaseous diffusion enrichment plant in Paducah Kentucky, USA. The evaluation includes early stage discussions between General Electric-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) and the owner of the Paducah facilities, the US Department of Energy (DOE) and is dependent on further detailed analysis.
GLE is proceeding with the evaluation of the opportunity to build a plant utilising the SILEX Technology to enrich 'high assay tails' stockpiles - potentially worth approx. $3 billion after enrichment (based on current price and process assumptions). There are approximately 100,000 metric tons of 'high assay tails' owned by the DOE and stockpiled at its Paducah and Portsmouth (Ohio) facilities. Silex believes that much of this material could be processed with the efficient SILEX enrichment technology to produce either natural assay uranium or enriched uranium for further use as nuclear fuel.
> See also: Compostion of the U.S. DOE Depleted Uranium Inventory (70k PDF)

 


GE Hitachi laser isotope separation enrichment potential commercial facility project in Wilmington (North Carolina)

NRC Docket No.
NRC License No. SNM-2019

> View GE Laser Enrichment Facility Licensing (NRC)

> Aerial View: Google Maps · MSRMaps

 

GLE requests license termination for commercial laser enrichment plant project in Wilmington

On Feb. 18, 2020, GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) requested the termination of License No. SNM-2019 for the GLE Commercial Facility: "The facility as described in the licensing documents listed in License Condition 10 has not been constructed; therefore, no physical or principal activities authorized by the License have been conducted at the facility site located in Wilmington NC. The decision has been made that the facility will not be constructed, and therefore the License should be terminated."
On the same day, GLE requested a new Facility Clearance to reflect the new ownership of GLE.

On Aug. 25, 2020, GLE submitted a revised request for termination of the license.

On Jan. 5, 2021, NRC issued the requested license termination.

Silex and Cameco acquire GE-Hitachi's stake in GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC

On Feb. 6, 2019, Silex System Ltd announced that Silex Systems and Canadian uranium miner Cameco Corporation have signed a Term Sheet detailing key terms for the joint purchase from GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy of its 76% interest in SILEX technology licensee GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE). Subject to finalising a mutually satisfactory binding agreement and obtaining US Government approvals, the proposed restructure of GLE would result in Silex holding a 51% interest, and Cameco increasing its interest in GLE from 24% to 49%.

On Dec. 16, 2019, Silex System Ltd announced that Silex and Cameco have signed a binding purchase agreement for the joint purchase from GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy of its 76% interest in SILEX technology licensee Global Laser Enrichment (GLE). Subject to obtaining US Government approvals and other factors, closing of the agreement would result in Silex acquiring a 51% interest in GLE, and Cameco increasing its interest in GLE from 24% to 49%;

On Jan. 31, 2021, Silex Systems Ltd announced that Silex and Cameco Corporation have completed the restructure of SILEX technology licensee Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) resulting in Silex acquiring a 51% majority interest in GLE, and Cameco increasing its interest from 24% to 49%.

On Feb. 9, 2021, the company's name change from GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC to Global Laser Enrichment LLC became effective.

Silex abandons plan to acquire majority stake in GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC

On June 12, 2018, Silex Systems Ltd announced that it has decided to abandon the acquisition of GE-Hitachi's 76% interest in GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE). The Silex Board decided that there remained too many risks associated with GLE's business case.

Majority owners to leave GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE)

On Apr. 18, 2016, Silex Systems Limited (Silex) announced that GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) are looking to exit GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE), the exclusive Licensee for the SILEX laser uranium enrichment technology. GE and Hitachi hold 51% and 25% stakes in GLE respectively.

GE Hitachi slows construction of Wilmington laser enrichment plant down due to market conditions

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy's Global Laser Enrichment announced plans late Wednesday (July 23) night to suspend work on development of technology done at its facility in Wilmington, which will apparently impact about two dozen workers in the area. In an email statement, a GLE official said "most contractor-based work on the project will be suspended", and later added that approximately two dozen contractors in Wilmington "support the project". The statement released Wednesday night said GLE "plans to pace development of the technology in alignment with market conditions". (WECT July 24, 2014)

President of German Physical Society warns from proliferation risk of planned laser enrichment plant in North Carolina

Prof. Wolfgang Sandner, president of Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft e.V. , warns from the proliferation risk of the GE-Hitachi laser enrichment plant in Wilmington, North Carolina. (Spektrum der Wissenschaft Oct. 18, 2012)

NRC issues license for GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC facility in Wilmington, North Carolina

> Download NRC release Sep. 25, 2012 (PDF)
> Download License SNM-2019 (PDF)

NRC issues draft license for proposed GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC facility in Wilmington, North Carolina

> Download draft license SNM-2019 (Sep. 20, 2012)

NRC issues Final Safety Evaluation Report and Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC facility in Wilmington, North Carolina

> Download NRC news release Feb. 29, 2012 (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 49 (Tuesday, March 13, 2012) p. 14838-14839 (download full text )
> Download Safety Evaluation Report for the General Electric-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC Laser-Based Uranium Enrichment Plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, NUREG-2120 , Feb. 29, 2012 (2.5MB PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 77, Number 44 (Tuesday, March 6, 2012) p. 13367-13368 (download full text )
> Download Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment, LLC Facility in Wilmington, North Carolina - Final Report (NUREG-1938) , Feb. 28, 2012
> View Docket ID NRC-2009-0157 (regulations.gov)

Critics demand assessment of proliferation risks of laser enrichment

In a little-known effort, General Electric has successfully tested laser enrichment for two years and is seeking federal permission to build a $1 billion plant that would make reactor fuel by the ton. That might be good news for the nuclear industry. But critics fear that if the work succeeds and the secret gets out, rogue states and terrorists could make bomb fuel in much smaller plants that are difficult to detect. Iran has already succeeded with laser enrichment in the lab, and nuclear scientists worry that GE's accomplishment might inspire Tehran to build a plant easily hidden from the world's eyes.
Backers of the laser plan call those fears unwarranted and praise the technology as a windfall for a world increasingly leery of fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases. But critics want a detailed risk assessment. Recently, they petitioned Washington for a formal evaluation of whether the laser initiative could backfire and speed the global spread of nuclear arms.
"We're on the verge of a new route to the bomb," said Frank N. von Hippel, a nuclear physicist who advised President Clinton and now teaches at Princeton University. "We should have learned enough by now to do an assessment before we let this kind of thing out." (Boston Globe Aug. 21, 2011)

NRC issues Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC facility in Wilmington, North Carolina for comment

Comments will be accepted until August 9, 2010.

> View NRC release June 24, 2010
Federal Register: June 25, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 122) p. 36447-36449 (download full text )
> Download Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC Facility in Wilmington, North Carolina (NUREG-1938, Draft for Comment)
> View Docket ID NRC-2009-0157 (regulations.gov)

Proliferation risks from laser enrichment technology exceed benefits, scientists say

The US Congress should take the lead on discouraging efforts to advance uranium-enrichment technology, argue Francis Slakey and Linda R. Cohen in an Opinion piece in this week's Nature. They believe that the newest laser enrichment technology - called separation of isotopes by laser excitation (SILEX) - offers more potential risks than benefits. It is not critical for expansion of the nuclear power industry today, or in a future where greenhouse-gas emissions are tightly capped and the nuclear industry favoured. Capital costs and regulatory policies will determine the size of that industry. "Rather, the development and potential risk of misappropriation of an enrichment facility too small and efficient to be detected could be a game changer for further nuclear proliferation," say the duo.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering an application to operate a full-scale commercial SILEX plant in North Carolina; this is open to public petition until 15 March. A final decision is expected to take at least another year. Slakey and Cohen urge Congress to require that proliferation risks be evaluated as part of the NRC licensing process, starting with the SILEX application. If the proliferation risks of such technologies beyond the licensee's control are deemed too high, requested users should not be licensed, they say. Such a barrier would discourage commercial research and development in this area.

Opinion: Stop laser uranium enrichment, by Francis Slakey and Linda R. Cohen, in: NATURE Vol.464 No.7285, 4 March 2010, pp 32-33

NRC releases Environmental Report Supplement 2 for GE Hitachi laser isotope separation enrichment plant project

Federal Register: March 2, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 40) p. 9451-9452 (download full text )

> Download Environmental Report Supplement 2, Nov. 2009 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML093240135)
> Download Environmental Report Supplement 1, July 2009 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML092100577)

NRC issues Notice of Hearing on GLE's license application for commercial laser technology uranium enrichment plant in Wilmington (North Carolina)

Deadline for Requests for Hearing, Petitions to Intervene and Contentions, and Requests for Limited Participation is March 15, 2010.
> View NRC release Jan. 14, 2010
Federal Register: January 13, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 8) p. 1819-1830 (download full text )
> View NRC Commission Order CLI-10-04, Jan. 8, 2010

GLE submits license application for commercial laser technology uranium enrichment plant in Wilmington (North Carolina)

GE Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) – a business venture of GE, Hitachi Ltd. and Cameco – on 30 June 2009, submitted its license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). GLE would build the commercial uranium-enrichment facility, the first to use laser technology, near Wilmington, N.C. (Silex July 1, 2009)
> Download GLE license application (ADAMS Acc. No. ML092110280)
> Download Submittal of Remaining Portion of Application for the Construction and Operation of the GLE Commercial Facility (ADAMS Acc. No. ML091871003)

NRC issues Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed GE-Hitachi uranium enrichment facility in Wilmington

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) evaluating this proposed action. The EIS will examine the potential environmental impacts of the proposed GLE facility.
NRC invites public comments on the appropriate scope of issues to be considered in the EIS. Written comments submitted by mail should be postmarked by no later than August 31, 2009 (comment period extended), to ensure consideration.

Federal Register: April 9, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 67) p. 16237-16238 (download full text )
Federal Register: July 24, 2009 (Volume 74, Number 141) p. 36781-36782 (download full text )

NRC releases Environmental Report for GE Hitachi laser isotope separation enrichment plant project

> Download Environmental Report for the GLE Commercial Facility, December 2008 (ADAMS Acc. No. ML090910573)

GE-Hitachi submits first part of application for laser isotope separation enrichment commercial facility project in Wilmington

On Feb. 4, 2009, GE-Hitachi announced that the environmental portion of a combined construction and operating license (COL) application had been submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). (World Nuclear News Feb. 4, 2009)

GE Hitachi selects Wilmington, North Carolina, as site for potential commercial uranium enrichment facility

Global Laser Enrichment (GLE), a subsidiary of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), has announced it has selected GEH's Wilmington headquarters site for a potential commercial uranium enrichment facility. The planned GEH plant would result in the creation of hundreds of new technical, operational and support jobs at the site between now and 2012. Before moving ahead with full-scale production plans, GLE will first evaluate the results of a demonstration test loop, which is currently under construction, and obtain an NRC license to build and operate the commercial plant. Commercial licensing activities are currently underway to support a projected start-up date of 2012. The commercial GLE facility would have a target capacity of between 3.5 and six million separative work units (SWUs). GEH intends to make a final decision on the construction of the facility as early as the beginning of 2009. (Centre Times Daily Apr. 30, 2008)

Current application submittal date for full-scale facility: 2008

> View background information


GE-Hitachi laser isotope separation enrichment demonstration facility project in Wilmington (North Carolina)

NRC Docket No.
NRC License No.

> View GE Laser Enrichment Facility Licensing (NRC)

 

Hitachi to report US$ 620 million loss upon withdrawal from laser isotope separation enrichment demonstration facility project in Wilmington: Electronics giant Hitachi Ltd. is set to lose tens of billions of yen this fiscal year due to the withdrawal from a project to develop a new method of uranium enrichment by a joint venture in the United States.
Hitachi is expected to report a 70 billion yen ($620 million) non-operating loss by the time books are closed for fiscal 2016 at the end of March, said Mitsuaki Nishiyama, a senior vice president of the Tokyo-based conglomerate, in a news conference on the company's performance through the third quarter. The deficit is largely attributed to the joint venture GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Inc. withdrawing from the uranium enrichment project. Due to this decision, Hitachi no longer expects any profits from the North Carolina-based company, of which it owns 40 percent and the rest by General Electric. (Asahi Shimbun Feb. 2, 2017)

Test Loop Program Phase I Milestone completed at GE-Hitachi laser isotope separation enrichment demonstration facility in Wilmington (North Carolina): On May 21, 2013, Silex Systems Limited announced that the Test Loop Program Phase I Milestone: Technology Demonstration, has been successfully completed at GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment's facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, USA.

NRC fines GE-Hitachi $45,000 for multiple security violations at laser isotope separation enrichment demonstration facility in Wilmington (North Carolina): The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has fined GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy $45,000 for multiple security violations at a North Carolina facility using classified technology to test whether lasers can be used to enrich uranium.
A redacted copy of an NRC violation letter provided to The Associated Press on Thursday (Oct. 20) following a Freedom of Information Act request said investigators identified five violations including "a significant lack of management attention." Details of the violations described by the letter were blacked out by nuclear regulators before it was released to The AP. While some violations were "willful," "no actual consequences resulted," the NRC said.
The violations involved a contractor's employee working at the GE-Hitachi's Global Nuclear Fuels facility near Wilmington, where the company is using top-secret technology to find out whether lasers can effectively enrich uranium instead of costlier centrifuges, company spokesman Christopher White said. (Boston Globe Oct. 20, 2011)
> Download FOIA/PA request 2011-0300, July 19, 2011

On July 30, 2009, Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) announced the start-up of a "test loop" to evaluate a next-generation uranium enrichment technology that GLE is developing. The test loop is designed to validate the commercial feasibility of the technology and advance the design of the equipment, facility and processes for the planned commercial production facility. GLE anticipates gleaning sufficient data from the test loop by the end of 2009 to decide whether to proceed with plans for a full-scale commercial enrichment facility.

On June 20, 2008, Cameco Corporation announced it is joining a uranium enrichment business venture in the United States. Cameco has finalized an agreement with GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) whereby a Cameco subsidiary will provide $123.8 million (US) to acquire a 24% interest in Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) based in Wilmington, North Carolina. The remainder of GLE is owned indirectly by General Electric Company (51%) and Hitachi Ltd. (25%).

On May 14, 2008, Global Laser Enrichment (GLE), a subsidiary of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), announced that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved a license amendment (to an existing nuclear facility license) to operate a Test Loop for GLE's next generation, SILEX laser-enrichment technology.

Demonstration Facility to be sited at Global Nuclear Fuels in Wilmington, NC
Letter of Intent submitted on October 11, 2006
Current application submittal date for demonstation facility: mid-2007

> View background information


Centrifuge enrichment

 

Orano resurrects plan to build uranium enrichment plant in the U.S.

French nuclear fuel specialist Orano is considering building a uranium enrichment facility in the United States, the group's chairman said on Wednesday (Mar. 27), as the U.S. seeks to reduce its reliance on imports of the fuel from Russia.
State-owned Orano, previously known as Areva, had reached advanced plans to build such a facility in the state of Idaho in the late 2000s but was forced to abandon the project after the Fukushima nuclear disaster led some countries to shut down nuclear reactors or suspend projects, resulting in enrichment overcapacity.
The plan for a facility in the U.S., the world's largest nuclear power producer, has now been resurrected, said Claude Imauven, chairman of Orano's board. (Reuters Mar. 27, 2024)

 


Nuclear Fuel Fabrication


Aurora Fuel Fabrication Facility, Idaho

ADAMS Docket No. ???

 

Safety Design Strategy for Aurora HALEU Fuel Fabrication Facility obtains DOE approval: On Jan. 31, 2024, Oklo Inc. announced that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has reviewed and approved the Safety Design Strategy (SDS) for the Aurora Fuel Fabrication Facility at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The Aurora Fuel Fabrication Facility is being designed to demonstrate the reuse of recovered nuclear material to support Oklo's planned commercial advanced fission power plant demonstration at INL.
The DOE is supporting INL to produce High-Assay, Low-Enriched Uranium [HALEU] for advanced reactors by recovering uranium through electrorefining treatment on used fuel from the now-decommissioned Experimental Breeder Reactor-II. (Oklo Inc. Jan. 31, 2024)


Lightbridge Pilot Fuel Fabrication Facility (LPFFF) project, Piketon, Ohio

ADAMS Docket No. ???

 

Plan announced for HALEU Lightbridge Pilot Fuel Fabrication Facility project in Piketon, Ohio: On Dec. 7, 2023, Lightbridge Corporation and Centrus Energy Corp. announced a contract to conduct a front-end engineering and design (FEED) study to add a dedicated Lightbridge Pilot Fuel Fabrication Facility (LPFFF) at the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. [...]
" This facility will be instrumental in [...] bringing HALEU to existing reactors as well as to new reactors, large and small."


NANO Nuclear Energy fuel manufacturing facility project, Idaho

ADAMS Docket No. ???

 

Nano Nuclear Energy to build fuel fabrication plant at Idaho National Laboratory: NANO Nuclear Energy Inc. , a nuclear technology firm, plans to build a fuel fabrication plant at the Idaho National Laboratory in response to greater interest in nuclear energy, rising demand for fuel and to develop a domestic supply unaffected by international events such as Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
The fuel fabrication facility is expected to manufacture fuel for nuclear reactors, national laboratories and the U.S. Department of Energy.
James Walker, CEO and head of nuclear reactor development at NANO Nuclear Energy, said Monday (May 15) in an interview design work on the $150 million to $200 million project will begin in the next few months and a construction start next year is "feasible." Approvals are "pretty much complete," he said. (Utility Dive May 17, 2023)


USNC Pilot Fuel Manufacturing Facility project, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

ADAMS Docket No. ???

 

Urenco USA to supply enriched uranium for manufacturing of TRISO fuel at Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp.'s Oak Ridge pilot facility: Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation will purchase enriched uranium product (EUP) from Urenco USA for use in the manufacture of Tri-structural Isotropic (TRISO) particles and Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM®) fuel via USNC's planned joint venture with Framatome in the United States. The EUP will be produced and supplied by the Urenco USA uranium enrichment facility located in New Mexico.
This first batch of EUP is slated for delivery to the USNC-Framatome fuel manufacturing joint venture in 2025, coinciding with the start of their TRISO and FCM fuel factory operations. (Urenco USA Mar. 1, 2023)

Framatome and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) to form joint venture to manufacture TRISO fuel: Framatome and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) intend to form a joint venture to manufacture in commercial quantities TRISO (Tri-structural Isotropic) particle fuel and FCM® fully micro-encapsulated ceramic fuel, a technology patented by Ultra Safe Nuclear.
Framatome and Ultra Safe Nuclear have signed a memorandum of understanding, non-binding at this stage, aimed at integrating their complementary resources within the framework of a joint venture whose mission will be to market commercially viable fourth-generation nuclear fuel for USNC's Micro-Modular™ (MMR®) reactors and other advanced reactor designs. (Framatome Jan. 26, 2023)

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. opens Pilot Fuel Manufacturing Facility in Oak Ridge: Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. has opened a pilot fuel manufacturing facility that will produce TRi-structural ISOtropic (TRISO) coated fuel particles and the company's proprietary fuel for use in its high-temperature gas reactor (HTGR). (Power Magazine Aug. 25, 2022)

Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. plans to build Pilot Fuel Manufacturing Facility in Oak Ridge: Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC) announces the siting of its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) operation in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The facility is located on the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), site of Manhattan Project's [former] K-25 gaseous diffusion plant.
USNC plans to commission and operate the production-scale modules involved in manufacturing of TRISO coated fuel particles and its proprietary Fully Ceramic Micro-encapsulated (FCM®) fuel. The PFM facility is targeted to initiate operations in the summer of 2022, upon receipt of state and local permits. The PFM facility will be able to process feedstock uranium powder into TRISO fuel particles and subsequently produce FCM fuel in multiple kilogram quantities. (USNC Mar. 2, 2022)


Kairos Power Atlas Fuel Fabrication Facility project, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

ADAMS Docket No.

 

Los Alamos National Laboratory to produce first TRISO fuel pebbles for Hermes demonstration reactor: On Dec. 8, 2022, Kairos Power announced that it has signed an agreement to produce TRISO fuel pebbles for the Hermes demonstration reactor at Los Alamos' Low Enriched Fuel Fabrication Facility (LEFFF) in New Mexico.

Kairos Power plans to build TRISO HALEU fuel fabrication facility at Oak Ridge: On Oct. 26, 2021, Kairos Power LLC notified NRC of its intention to build a TRISO HALEU fuel fabrication facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Scope of the facility is to manufacture HALEU TRISO particles and annular pebbles (containing TRISO particles). Atlas will be a Category II facility under the regulations in 10 CFR 70 and will be located near the Hermes demonstration test reactor at the East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The Fluoride Salt-Cooled High Temperature Reactor Hermes will utilize TRistructural ISOtropic (TRISO) based fuel with enrichments up to 19.55 wt% Uranium-235.
> Download: Intent to Submit Application for a Fuel Fabrication Facility , Oct. 26, 2021
> Download: Public Session Presentation Materials for the Pre-Submittal Meeting on the Kairos Power Atlas Fuel Fabrication Facility Application , Dec. 14, 2021


TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility project, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

ADAMS Docket No.

 

TRISO-X nuclear fuel plant project gets $148.5 million tax credit: A nuclear company set to begin building an advanced fuel facility in Oak Ridge this year got a $148.5 million boost from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Internal Revenue Service.
The award to TRISO-X, a subsidiary of X-energy, is a tax credit funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden administration's giant bill of clean energy investments that narrowly passed through Congress in 2022.
The company expects to operate the fuel production facility by late 2027, a delay from its original timeline of 2025. One of the central reasons for the delay was a change in the end customer. Originally, the TRISO-X facility was set to make so-called pebble fuel for an X-energy small modular reactor in Washington state. Now, the fuel will head to the company's Xe-100 reactor set to fuel Dow Chemical's plant in Seadrift, Texas. (Knoxville News Sentinel Apr. 24, 2024)

Construction of TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility to start prior to licensing: TRISO-X has stated their intent to begin pre-construction and construction activities prior to the NRC staff licensing decisions. TRISO-X stated they plan to begin pre-construction in July 2023 (target) and construction in January 2024 (target).
NRC clarified that construction prior to licensing is considered construction at-risk. (NRC staff Note to File, April 17, 2023 )

NRC announces opportunity to request a hearing on license application for TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility: The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) received a license application, by letters dated April 5, 2022, and September 23, 2022, from TRISO-X, LLC to possess and use special nuclear material for the manufacture of high-assay low-enriched uranium fuel at a fuel fabrication facility, to be located in Roane County, Tennessee. TRISO-X, LLC seeks a special nuclear material license for a term of 40 years to manufacture fuel, consisting of coated uranium particles enriched to less than 20 weight percent uranium-235 (Uranium-235) for use in advanced commercial reactors. Because the license application contains Sensitive Unclassified Non-Safeguards Information and Safeguards Information, an order imposes procedures to obtain access to this type of information for contention preparation.
A request for a hearing or petition for leave to intervene must be filed by April 4, 2023.
> Federal Register Volume 88, Number 23 (Friday, February 3, 2023) p. 7473-7478 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2022-0209

NRC invites scoping comments on EIS for TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) received a license application by letters dated April 5, 2022, and September 23, 2022, from TRISO-X, LLC (TRISO-X) a wholly owned subsidiary of X-energy LLC. By its application, TRISO-X is requesting a license to possess and use special nuclear material for the manufacture of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel at a fuel fabrication facility (FFF) to be located in Oak Ridge, Roane County, Tennessee. The proposed action is the issuance of a license for the possession and use of special nuclear material. The NRC staff will prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS) to document the potential environmental impacts from the proposed action. As part of the EIS development process, the NRC is seeking comments on the scope of its environmental review.
Submit comments on the scope of the EIS by February 14, 2023.
> Download: NRC release Dec. 16, 2022 (PDF)
> Federal Register Volume 87, Number 241 (Friday, December 16, 2022) p. 77146-77148 (download full text )
> Access Docket ID NRC-2022-0201
> Access related documents (NRC)

Groundbreaking for TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility: On Oct. 13, 2022, X-energy LLC announced that its wholly owned subsidiary TRISO-X LLC broke ground and began construction activities on its commercial-scale advanced nuclear fuel facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Environmental Report for TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility submitted
> Download: TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility Environmental Report Submittal , Sep. 23, 2022 [Enclosure 1 with Part 1 of 3 still missing, as of Oct. 13, 2022]

License application for TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility submitted:
> Download: TRISO-X, LLC Fuel Fabrication Facility License Application Submittal , Apr. 5, 2022

Preliminary design of TRISO-X fuel fabrication facility completed: On Nov. 2, 2021, X-energy and Centrus Energy Corp. announced that preliminary design of X-energy's TRISO-X Fuel Fabrication Facility has been completed and that the companies have signed a contract for Centrus to continue its work as the project enters its next phase.
"Completion of Preliminary Design is a key step in our commercialization efforts toward a first-of-a-kind NRC regulated Category II facility capable of handling High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU) for the coming fleet of advanced reactors," said Pete Pappano, President of TRISO-X, a wholly owned subsidiary of X-Energy LLC. [...]
X-energy contracted with Centrus in 2018 to support the facility's preliminary design work, which is now complete.  Under a new contract supported by the DOE Office of Nuclear Energy Demonstration Tier of the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, the largest tier of award in the program, X-energy will finalize the detailed design of a commercial-scale TRISO-X fabrication facility.
The TRISO-X facility will wrap HALEU-bearing kernels of oxide and carbide in alternating layers of pyrolytic carbon and silicon carbide, creating a self-contained, meltdown-proof fuel. The facility is designed to support the deployment of X-energy's XE-100 power plant in Washington State by 2027 under an award from the U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP.)  The facility will also be capable of supporting other Xe-100 sites and a variety of customers needing other fuel forms of TRISO.


 

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