Lightbridge making progress to improved nuclear fuel that will boost energy production by 17% in existing nuclear reactors

Lightbridge Corporation has received final regulatory approval for irradiation testing of its metallic fuel at Norway’s Halden research reactor. The company has also entered an agreement with US fabricator BWXT Nuclear Energy to evaluate the possible fabrication of fuel samples at BWXT’s US facilities.

Reston, Virginia-based Lightbridge announced on 12 January that the operator of the Halden reactor, the Institute for Energy Technology (IFE), had received approval from the Norwegian Nuclear Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) for all planned irradiation of Lightbridge fuel, which is expected to begin in 2017.

Lightbridge’s all metal fuel (AMF) assembly is comprised entirely of metallic fuel rods and is capable of providing up to 17% increase in power output in existing PWRs and up to a 30% power uprate in new build PWRs operating on 18-month fuel cycles. Due to certain constraints associated with the size of equipment that can fit in the containment structures of existing PWRs, there are limits as to the maximum power uprate level existing PWRs can accommodate without changing their existing containment structure. However, a new build unit can be constructed with a larger containment to allow for higher capacity equipment with relatively small capital cost increase.

Lightbridge is developing three primary nuclear fuel product offerings for power uprates and longer fuel cycles:

  • LTB17-1024™ all-metal fuel for up to 10% power uprates and 24-month operating cycles in existing PWRs;
  • LTB17-1718 1718™ all-metal fuel for up to 17% power uprates and 1818-month operating cycles in existing PWRs; and
  • LTB17-3018™ all-metal fuel for up to 30% power uprates and 18-month operating cycles in new-build PWRs.
  • In addition, Lightbridge is developing LTB17-Th18™, our™ thorium-based seed and blanket fuel, which offers significant back-end advantages and enhanced proliferation resistance of used fuel.

Presently, the size of Lightbridge’s initial target market worldwide is approximately 127 GWe. Our target market is projected to grow to 261 GWe by 2030. The following chart shows a breakdown of Lightbridge’s estimated target market by market segment.

SOURCES- World Nuclear News, Lightbridge