Recently completed milestones and Ongoing Fuel development Activities
A. Fuel technology development and demonstration activities:
- Lightbridge was notified by the US Department of Energy (DOE) that Rosatom had provided non-proliferation assurances to DOE that will become effective upon entry into an agreement between Lightbridge and Rosatom entities. It is our understanding that this is the last key step of the Part 810 export authorization review process prior to approval by DOE;
- Secured preliminary approval from Rosatom relating to fabrication of Lightbridge-designed metallic fuel samples for irradiation testing in the MIR research reactor in Dimitrovgrad, Russia, and the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at Idaho National Laboratory in the United States. As part of this process, the Russian fabricator TVEL designated MSZ Electrostal fabrication plant as the facility for fabrication of our fuel samples. We are currently in commercial discussions with TVEL and MSZ Electrostal relating to fabrication of these fuel samples. We expect these discussions to be completed in the coming months;
- Working in collaboration with Idaho National Laboratory and Texas A&M University, Lightbidge continued experiment planning and design for irradiation testing of our metallic fuel samples in the ATR at Idaho National Laboratory. The team agreed to a single fuel rod design that is compatible with both a capsule irradiation rig and a loop irradiation rig design in order to accommodate uncertainty in reactor availability between now and when the fuel samples are delivered to Idaho National Laboratory;
- Continued negotiations with fuel fabrication partners relating to metal fuel fabrication process development and demonstration work in the United States. We expect the negotiations to conclude in 2013;
B. Expansion of intellectual property portfolio:
- Lightbridge was granted a Eurasian patent which covers our thorium-based seed and blanket fuel assembly design for Russian-type VVER-1000 reactors. Countries that are signatories to the Eurasian Patent Convention include Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic, and Republic of Moldova. Of these countries, Russia and Kazakhstan are of key importance to Lightbridge and will be our top priority as far as patent maintenance is concerned. The new patent extends patent protection for our thorium-based seed and blanket fuel assembly design to 2027, which is well beyond 2014-2015, when the original patents covering that fuel design are set to expire;
- Lightbridge was granted a U.S. patent covering a locking mechanism for our seed-and-blanket fuel assembly (US Patent No. 8,116,423) that provides protection for the locking mechanism invention in the United States from its issuance until December 2028;
- Lightbridge was granted a Ukrainian patent covering our thorium-based seed-and-blanket fuel assembly for VVER-1000 reactors (Patent No. 98370). The patent provides protection for the above nuclear fuel design in Ukraine through December 2027. Presently, Ukraine has 13 VVER-1000 reactors in operation, with 2 more units under construction; and
- Filed an international patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty for our all-uranium seed and blanket and all-metal fuel technologies as well as national phase patent applications in key countries based on the 2008 Patent Cooperation Treaty application that covers the thorium-based seed and blanket fuel technology for Western-type pressurized water reactors. Once granted, the new patents would extend patent protection for these fuel designs to 2028-2030.
C. Presentation at industry conferences and technical publications:
- A peer-reviewed article on our metallic fuel technology was published in the December 2012 edition of the American Nuclear Society journal Nuclear Technology;
- An independent analysis by Pace Global, a Siemens business, confirms the Company's patented metallic fuel design has superior non-proliferation benefits compared to current nuclear fuels.
- An independent analysis by Pace Global, a Siemens business, validates the Lightbridge fuel technology's benefits of increased power output and enhanced operating economics for nuclear utilities.
- Nuclear Power Industry and Market Analysis
- Lightbridge's Next Generation Fuel Technologies
- Enhanced Safety Characteristics
- Fuel Development Program