Ubaryon advances undercover uranium tech

Ubaryon advances undercover uranium tech

February 14, 2024 Off By Jack Baker

While under the veil of private trading and classified work, uranium technologist Ubaryon has continued to advance its enrichment technology toward technical completion and commercialisation in New South Wales.

The fully owned technology, based on the chemical separation of naturally occurring isotopes, is now being developed under watchful eyes at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation’s Sydney base.

The bulk of enriched yellowcake uranium has typically been produced by Russia, but sanctions against the bear and an ascendant uranium price has heightened interest in Ubaryon’s technology.

The company, who speak to the ASX through its largest shareholder Global Uranium and Enrichment, say it has numerous funding options on hand, including a recent Request for Proposal from the U.S. Department of Energy for Enriched Uranium.

The US House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan bill seeking to halt Russian uranium imports until at least 2040, and while it still hangs in the Senate, is expected to come into place this year.

The Department of Energy’s request to Ubaryon was for the acquisition of High Assay Low Enriched Uranium required for Small Modular Reactors, and funding for the proposal of US$700 million provided under the Inflation Reduction Act has already been authorised by the US Congress.

And there could be more to the secret knowledge, application to other isotopes has identified numerous potential advantages in separation of rare earth isotopes for medical applications, while the need for recycling has driven innovation and a process for recovery from aqueous solutions with potential for environmental recovery.

Western uranium

A ban on Russian imports would carry an obvious boon to western industry as the sector builds momentum unseen for decades in the wake of emissions goals, energy security focus, production cuts, and a new generation of small, efficient modular reactors.

But those are powered by Haleu, a powerful fuel used in the advanced reactors owned by Russia and China and yet to be developed in western borders.

Haleu can only be purchased from Moscow’s state-controlled nuclear power Rosatom, but Boris Schucht, chief executive of the largest western enriched uranium supplier Urenco, told Financial Times it has enough capacity to replace Russian supplies.

Schucht noted that western nations had a lot of suppliers go bankrupt over the past decade but are now in the process of building them back up to capacity.

“The market is seeking higher independence and, of course, clear political guidance. So the proposed legislation in the US would be helpful,” he said.

“There are no constraints in the short term in replacing Russian materials in the western world. That is the simple message.”

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