Tests completed for the laser enrichment module: Uranium & Fuel

September 05, 2022

The first full-scale laser system module developed by Silex Systems Ltd for deployment at Global Laser Enrichment’s (GLE) commercial pilot demonstration facility has successfully completed eight months of testing in Australia. The module will now be shipped to the United States for installation at GLE facilities.

(Picture: Pixabay)

The module was designed, built and tested to GLE specifications at Silex’s Laser Technology Development Center in Lucas Heights, Australia. The rigorous program of testing under factory-like operational conditions included an independent on-site review of the laser system module by a specialist US engineering contractor, which Silex says resulted in a positive evaluation. System reliability was a particular testing objective. GLE is the exclusive worldwide licensee of SILEX laser technology for uranium enrichment.

“This is a critical milestone for SILEX uranium enrichment technology that demonstrates the ability of our laser systems to operate reliably at commercial scale for long periods of time,” said Michael Goldsworthy, Director General and CEO of Silex.

GLE CEO Stephen Long said, “We are pleased with the performance and capability of the laser system built by Silex and look forward to receiving the first module into our test loop, where it will be integrated with GLE technology. to demonstrate large-scale separation performance. We salute the efforts of the talented team of laser engineers at Silex to design, develop and deliver this unique cutting-edge laser technology as GLE strives to commercialize laser-based uranium enrichment in the United States and expand nuclear fuel supply in the United States. »

The test loop module is now decommissioned and packaged for shipment to GLE’s test loop facility in Wilmington, North Carolina, where it is expected to be installed before the end of this year. Construction of additional identical laser system modules required for the commercial pilot demonstration project is underway, with all modules expected to be shipped to Wilmington by the end of 2023.

GLE said it expects to complete the commercial pilot demonstration project by the mid-2020s, after which it will assess the commercialization schedule, adding that commercial operations could start “as early as 2027” depending on demand. market and other factors. GLE shareholders Silex and Cameco are evaluating the timeline for the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (PLEF) project, which will be deployed to produce natural-grade uranium hexafluoride (UF6) from the enrichment of materials from U.S. Department of Energy tailings stockpiles under a 2016 Agreement.

In addition to the production of natural-grade UF6 via tailings processing, GLE also plans to further develop PLEF to use the technology to produce low-enriched uranium and so-called LEU+ from natural UF6 to fuel existing reactors; and for the production of high-dosage low-enriched uranium – or HALEU – for next-generation small advanced modular reactors.

Research and writing by World Nuclear News

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