Currently, Lightbridge has three primary fuel product lines under development, with each fuel design utilizing Lightbridge’s proprietary metallic fuel rod technology:
The first nuclear fuel product family includes an all-uranium seed and blanket fuel that is particularly suitable for existing pressurized water reactors (PWRs), though it can also be utilized in new build PWRs. Lightbridge is developing two variants of this fuel technology for PWRs:
A power uprate, coupled with a 24-month fuel cycle, can be a particularly attractive option for existing Westinghouse-type 4-loop PWRs that are currently limited to an 18-month fuel cycle due to fuel performance constraints attributed to conventional uranium oxide fuels. To accommodate up to a 17% power uprate, a number of reactor modifications would be required, including upgrades to the primary and secondary systems. For uprates up to 10%, only relatively minor reactor system modifications would be required.
The second nuclear fuel product family includes our all-metal fuel, which is expected to be able to provide up to a 30% increase in power output of new build PWRs, such as Westinghouse (U.S.)-designed AP-1000, AREVA (French)-designed EPR, Mitsubishi (Japanese)-designed APWR, KEPCO (Korean)-designed APR-1400 and others. Also, this fuel technology can potentially be able to extend the fuel cycle length up to 24 months in addition to the 30% uprate. To accommodate up to a 30% power uprate, a number of reactor design modifications would be required, including upgrades to the primary and secondary systems, as well as potential modifications to the reactor containment structure, making it suitable only for new-build plants.
The third nuclear fuel product family includes our thorium-based seed-and-blanket fuel, which we expect will provide several major benefits, including:
These benefits can be particularly appealing to those markets that either have significant domestic thorium reserves but lack natural uranium resources or are concerned with the cost of long-term storage as a used fuel management option. Further, the economics of our thorium-based fuel can become more attractive as the price of natural uranium increases due to the projected reduction in natural uranium requirements per megawatt-day. Finally, the enhanced proliferation resistance aspects of the spent fuel can appeal to markets that put particular emphasis on non-proliferation.
The development of the power uprate fuel products provides diversity to Lightbridge’s fuel offerings and synergistically advances the development of Lightbridge’s thorium-based fuel product family. Lightbridge is committed to the safe generation of nuclear electricity and will work with various industry partners, including nuclear fuel vendors and electric utilities, and nuclear regulatory authorities to ensure safe operation of our fuel designs and compliance with all applicable regulations. Several features of the metallic fuel indicate the performance of the fuel will meet or exceed all applicable safety requirements.