The global demand for enriched uranium has dropped. As a consequence, Global Laser Enrichment, part of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, is consolidating operations to Wilmington.
Global Laser Enrichment is third-generation nuclear technology. It would require far less space and energy to run than current methods, which use centrifuges.
While GE Hitachi will continue pursuing the new technology, Company Spokesperson Christopher White says they’re slowing the pace of work.
"The market for enriched uranium around the world has really suffered a great decline. The market has declined more than 50% since we started the project in 2007. So, because of that and because of the global factors that are impacting the uranium market, we have decided simply just to slow down our pace of development of this technology. So we’re going to continue to develop it; we’re just going to develop it at a pace that makes sense with the market.”
After the Fukushima disaster, nuclear reactors in Japan paused their energy production to perform safety enhancements, says White. And while that’s lessened the current demand for enriched uranium, he says the long-term uranium market remains healthy.