Shares of nuclear fuel technology developer Lightbridge Corp. (Nasdaq: LTBR) were up 29 percent from Tuesday’s close, in morning trading on Wednesday,June 23rd, 2010 after the company announced “a major technological breakthrough,” based on a proprietary all-metal fuel assembly design could reduce both initial capital costs per megawatt and annual operating costs per kilowatt-hour of nuclear power.
According to a recent news release, this breakthrough makes nuclear power more competitive with other forms of electricity generation while contributing to a significant reduction of CO2 emissions.
“When it comes to meeting the ever increasing global demand for power generation, innovation will be the key to a sustainable and safe solution for industry and governments worldwide,” said Seth Grae, CEO, Lightbridge in a statement.
Earlier this month, Lightbridge announced that the Idaho National Laboratory approved a Texas A&M University-led joint proposal with Lightbridge for irradiation testing of this kind of metallic fuel in the Advanced Test Reactor. The fuel demonstration in a test reactor environment is a key stepping stone to demonstration and deployment of this fuel in commercial Western-type light water reactors, according to the company.
Over the last decade, Lightbridge completed significant development and testing relating to this all-metal fuel technology. More specifically, Lightbridge has evaluated key operating parameters under various operating conditions. Key parameters that were evaluated include: melting point, fission gas retention, surface heat flux, fuel swelling, moderator-to-fuel ratio, and cladding corrosion.
The Lightbridge-designed all-metal fuel design would provide enhanced proliferation resistance and result in up to 23 percent less volume of used fuel per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated and is expected to have improved fuel operation compared to standard oxide fuel.
“Our breakthrough all-metal fuel technology builds upon over a decade of research and development effort that has been underway on our seed-and-blanket fuel assembly design. This transformational fuel technology also helps advance our seed-and-blanket fuel assembly designs due to the synergies between the seed fuel rods and the fuel rods used in the all-metal fuel assembly design. We expect that our all-metal nuclear fuel technology will provide significant economic incentives to nuclear utilities that make it economically attractive to adopt this advanced fuel product.”