Thursday, October 4, 2012

International Isotopes receives plant construction permit from NRC

International Isotopes President and CEO Steve Laflin at the company's plant site in Lea County, N.M.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a combined construction and operating license for International Isotopes' $125 million fluorine extraction facility near Hobbs, N.M. The license was signed and issued Tuesday during a brief ceremony at NRC offices in Bethesda, Md.

International Isotopes, which is based in Idaho Falls, submitted its license application to in December 2009. The planned facility is a first-of-its-kind depleted uranium deconversion facility and the first source material facility to implement full-integrated safety analysis and will also be the first source material facility to be licensed by the NRC for a 40-year license term.

The company intends for the project to be a "green, environmentally friendly" production facility that will extract fluorine during the de-conversion process to produce high-value and commercially important products used widely in solar energy, microelectronics, and petrochemical refinement.

Steve T. Laflin, the company's president and CEO, said the license from the NRC is essential to them securing financing for the project. Last year, the company applied for a $97 million loan from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Renewable-Energy Technology Development program, which evaluates whether a technology might reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"Our patented fluorine extraction process uses seven times less energy than conventional industrial processes for making hydrofluoric acid," Laflin told blogger Dan Yurman of Idaho Samizdat Nuke Notes. "This means we can show reductions of six million pounds of carbon dioxide a year over the life of the planet."