Christo Liebenberg – Co-Founder, CEO & COO

Christo J. Liebenberg is an accomplished professional with 30 years of diverse technical & management experience in state-of-the-art laser & optical systems and applications. Most of this experience is in the field of Laser Isotope Separation of UF6, and he was involved in several classified laser enrichment processes on three different continents.

Mr Liebenberg started his career in the 1980’s at the Atomic Energy Corporation of South Africa where he later spearheaded the optimization of enrichment parameters of the Molecular Laser Isotope Separation (MLIS) process. By the end of the 1990’s his journey led him to Australia where he later joined Silex Systems Ltd as their Laser Manager, and continued this role at Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) in Wilmington, NC where he played a key role in the architecture of the Test Loop Facility. In 2012 he joined the research team at ASML where he was intricately involved with the R&D of state-of-the-art CO2 laser systems to generate EUV (Extreme Ultraviolet), used today to manufacture modern semiconductor chips.

Championing CRISLA’s Revival: Mr Liebenberg has long been convinced that an alternative laser enrichment architecture was needed to make laser enrichment viable on a commercial scale. As such, he always kept a close eye on developments of Dr. Eerkens’s CRISLA process. In 2016, he did a critical risk analysis of CRISLA-3G, which included developing a scaling model of the process. Enthralled by impressive enrichment results, favorable techno-economics, seismic geo-political events, the advent of SMR’s and the DOE quest for a US-origin enrichment technology, he recognized the need to resurrect the CRISLA process. He co-founded CRISLA, Inc with Dr Eerkens in June 2020, and later co-founded LIS Technologies in August 2023.

Liebenberg obtained his MS degree in Physics from Stellenbosch University (1991) in South Africa. He (co-)authored at least 10 patents and published many technical papers and reports, mostly in the classified space. He received Australian citizenship in 2004 and US citizenship in 2021. He is married and the father of two children.

Jeff Eerkens – Co-Founder & CTO

Jeff W. Eerkens is the inventor of the CRISLA process, and considered the Father of Laser Enrichment. He obtained an MS degree in Nuclear Engineering (1957) and a PhD in Engineering Science (1960) from the University of California at Berkeley. He is a registered nuclear engineer in the State of California and since the 1970s explored Molecular Laser Isotope Separation (MLIS) of gaseous UF6 and the hexa-fluorides MoF6, WF6, and SF6. He utilized CO2 and CO infrared lasers and two different isotope harvesting techniques labeled CRISLA (= Condensation Repression Isotope Separation by Laser Activation) and CHEMLIS (= Chemically Harvested and Extracted MLIS). In1994 he was the editor of a SPIE Milestone volume (MS-113) on laser isotope separation (LIS).

Dr Eerkens is a strong advocate for nuclear power and published a book titled “The Nuclear Imperative – A Critical Look at the Approaching Energy Crisis”, 2nd ed (2010), Springer; ISBN 978-90-481-8666-2. He has hands-on experience with nuclear reactors, uranium enrichment, nuclear rockets and space satellite engineering. In 1973, he authored the “Rocket Plume Radiation Handbook”, Vols I, II, and VII, for the USAF, FTD, WPAFB, Dayton, Ohio- 45433.

During his graduate days at UC Berkeley (in pre-laser 1957 – 1960), Eerkens designed, built, and operated a small wind-tunnel to study and verify non-chemical isotope separations in gaseous supersonic jets using the nozzle and skimmer technique reported by Becker in Germany in 1955. Later in the 1960s and 1970s while at Science &Technology Associates and the Garrett Corporation, he explored isotope separations in gaseous supersonic jets of UF6, irradiated intra-laser-cavity with home-built CO and other lasers. This led him eventually to the current CRISLA-3G scheme that considerably outperforms Centrifugation and prior LIS (AVLIS and MLIS) enrichment processes from a techno-economic perspective.

Dr Eerkens was born in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) and as a 10-year old was interned in a Japanese prison camp on Java during WW-II. He was impressed learning that the US was winning WW-II by building hundreds of aircraft each month and re-occupying island-after-island in the Pacific. After his 1946 repatriation to Holland and completing high-school, at the advice of his (Ambassador) uncle, he went to UC-Berkeley in 1950 to study aeronautical engineering. When Eisenhower declassified nuclear reactor physics for the “Atoms for Peace” program in 1953, Eerkens switched his major to the new Nuclear Engineering program at UC-Berkeley, realizing that the US’ use of a war-ending nuclear-fission bomb in 1945 had saved his life. Eerkens became a US citizen in 1961. He is married and the father of four children.