Global Laser Enrichment

Global Laser Enrichment logo

Global Laser Enrichment LLC (GLE) is the exclusive worldwide licensee of the proprietary Separation of Isotopes by Laser EXcitation (SILEX) laser uranium enrichment technology, a third-generation enrichment technology. Cameco is the commercial lead for the GLE project with a 49% interest and we hold an option to attain a majority interest of 75%. Silex Systems Ltd. (Silex Systems) owns the other 51% interest in GLE and is the licensor of the SILEX laser enrichment technology and the technology lead for GLE.

Subject to completion of the technology demonstration program and its progression through to commercialization, GLE has the potential to offer a variety of advantages to the global nuclear energy sector, including:

  • re-enriching depleted uranium tails leftover as a by-product of first-generation gaseous diffusion enrichment operation, repurposing legacy waste into a commercial source of uranium and conversion products to fuel nuclear reactors and aiding in the responsible clean-up of legacy tails inventories, as per GLE’s agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE);
  • producing commercial low-enriched uranium (LEU) to fuel the world’s existing and future fleet of large-scale light-water reactors (and depending on market developments, SMR’s that also require LEU-based fuel) with greater efficiency and flexibility than current enrichment technologies; and
  • producing high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU), if a market for that fuel stock develops to serve a number of small modular reactor (SMR) and advanced reactor designs that might be commercially deployed and require HALEU-based fuel.

Our view is that re-enriching US government inventories of depleted uranium tails into a commercial source of uranium and conversion is GLE’s lowest-risk path to the market. This opportunity is underpinned by an agreement GLE has with the DOE to upgrade depleted uranium tails leftover from DOE’s historic enrichment operations, which may help address the growing supply gap for Western nuclear fuel supplies and services.

With the support of both Cameco and Silex Systems, GLE has accelerated its technology demonstration project activities to target an earlier delivery of the successful demonstration of Technology Readiness Level 6 (TRL-6). TRL-6 achievement will confirm large-scale system performance under relevant conditions (pilot-scale demonstration), which represents a major step up in a technology’s demonstrated readiness. Of note, GLE received the second full-scale laser system module from Silex Systems last year, which was installed in GLE’s pilot demonstration facility in the US. GLE’s efforts to bring forward planned activities and expenditures under the technology demonstration program are intended to demonstrate TRL-6 this year. Earlier TRL-6 demonstration may provide optionality for GLE to pursue government and industry support and funding related to potential commercial deployment opportunities (LEU and, potentially, HALEU) that could precede tails re-enrichment if the right conditions exist.

Unless another commercial deployment opportunity materializes, GLE will continue its work to complete the technology demonstration project with the potential to deploy its enrichment technology at a commercial scale in Western Kentucky under its agreement with the DOE no later than 2030. GLE’s path to commercialization depends on several factors, including but not limited to the successful progression and completion of GLE’s technology demonstration and maturation program, a clear commercial use case, sound market fundamentals, clarity regarding future Russian fuel imports, the ability to secure substantial government support and funding (specifically, accelerated commercial pathways related to LEU and, potentially, HALEU are reliant on government funding) and long-term industry support.

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