Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility
In November of 2016, the US Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE EM) and GLE signed a long-term agreement for the purchase and sale of a significant portion of DOE’s depleted uranium “tails” inventory to GLE.
Under the agreement, GLE has proposed to construct and operate a laser enrichment facility adjacent to DOE’s shuttered Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) that would re-enrich over 200,000MtU of DOE tails to equivalent natural grade uranium hexafluoride (nUF6) product for sale in the commercial market. We refer to this proposed facility as the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility, or PLEF.
The PLEF is an example of GLE’s ability to provide synergistic benefits to the nuclear industry and modernize the US nuclear fuel supply chain. Not only will the output of the PLEF (nUF6) provide clean, emissions-free fuel for nuclear power plants, but it will also reduce the legacy environmental footprint of the PGDP.
The PLEF is envisioned to produce up to 2,000MtU as natural grade UF6 annually (approximately 5 million pounds U3O8 equivalent). A decision to proceed to construction is subject to favorable uranium market conditions and other factors.
In 2020 the DOE announced funding under its Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) program to help support the development and deployment of small modular and advanced reactors. This initiative is one of several positive developments in the advancement of new, smaller nuclear reactor designs.
Many advanced reactors designs require higher levels of uranium enrichment than are currently used in the existing fleet of nuclear power plants. The name for this higher level of enrichment is commonly referred to as High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium, or HALEU.
HALEU will help unlock the potential growth and deployment of smaller reactors. GLE is engaged with the DOE and several advanced reactor vendors to explore the potential for GLE to provide a US-based source of HALEU to fuel the next generation of nuclear reactors.