GE, Hitachi win U.S. approval for laser-tech uranium plant

WILMINGTON, N.C., Sept 25 Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:39pm EDT

WILMINGTON, N.C., Sept 25 (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a license on Tuesday to a partnership between General Electric Co. and Japan's Hitachi Ltd to build and run a uranium enrichment plant using laser technology.

The license, which came after three years of safety and environmental reviews, allows GE and Hitachi to use laser enrichment technology which could produce half the amount of enriched uranium the U.S. needs each year for its nuclear reactors, according to the Energy Information Administration.

GE plans to build the first laser enrichment plant on its 1,600 acre (647 hectares) campus north of Wilmington in North Carolina, home to GE Nuclear's world headquarters, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, and a GE Aviation facility.

"The technology we've developed could be one of the keys to the nation's long-term energy security," said Chris Monetta, President and CEO of Global Laser Enrichment, the GE-Hitachi partnership which will build the facility. It did not say when building would start.

The laser enrichment technology was designed by Australia-based Silex Systems Ltd.

"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", Monetta said.

GE's partners Hitachi and Cameco Corp., the world's largest uranium producer, hold stakes of 25 percent and 24 percent respectively in Global Laser Enrichment.

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
s44w wrote:
The U.S. does not get 20% of its energy from nuclear energy.

It gets 9%.

The National Academies put it at 8% in 2008.

The myth that the U.S. gets 20% of its energy from nuclear energy is propagated by the nuclear industry to make themselves appear more relavant.

I could post links here but Reuters doesn’t allow links.

Other links that said 8% or 9% last year are magically no longer available.

The nuclear industry’s tentacles reach far!

Will they reach far enough to have this comment censored?

Sep 26, 2012 11:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.