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Silex eyes US nuclear fuel market

Manufacturing News

US government approval of a US$700 million package to develop uranium fuels needed for small modular reactors (SMRs) has landed Australian laser enrichment technology company Silex Systems with renewed opportunities.

The government’s funding to support its high assay low enriched uranium (HALEU) availability program over the next four years aim to develop fuels for the next generation of nuclear power technology.

The exclusive licensee of the Silex laser technology for uranium enrichment, Global Laser Enrichment, will explore opportunities to be a potential participant in the HALEU availability program.

GLE submitted a response to a request for information from the US Department of Energy in February this year, and ‘will be ready to respond to any related request for proposals’, according to the company.

Silex CEO Michael Goldsworthy said: “The signing into law of the Inflation Reduction Act this week is a pivotal turning point in the revitalisation of nuclear power in the US.

“The IRA is a cornerstone of America’s response to climate change, and recognises nuclear power as a critical component of a carbon free resilient and stable electricity grid.

“As the US government ramps up initiatives to domesticate its nuclear fuel supply chain and lessen its dependence on nuclear fuel imports, particularly from Russia, we expect GLE may have increasing opportunities to commercialise its Silex technology.”

Currently there is no commercial source of HALEU fuel in the United States, with SMR developers intending to source early fuel requirements from Russia.

“Given the growing concern over energy security and supply chains in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, those plans may no longer be realistic.”

Picture: Silex laser enrichment

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