MCLEAN, Va., April 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Lightbridge Corporation (NASDAQ: LTBR), the leading innovator of next generation nuclear fuel designs and provider of nuclear energy consulting services to commercial and governmental organizations, today provided further details regarding the safety benefits of its proprietary metal fuel technology.
A major purpose of designing nuclear power plant safety systems is to ensure that no radioactive material inside the fuel rods is released into the environment. The inherent characteristics of the Lightbridge metal fuel technology (MFT) are expected to contribute to increased safety margins during normal reactor operation and certain off-normal events. The MFT is being developed to be utilized in currently-operating as well as new-build reactors.
Testing and analysis have indicated that the primary safety benefits of the MFT are:
- The MFT transfers heat faster from the fuel rods to the coolant (water)
- The MFT has improved cladding integrity due to a metallurgical bond between the fuel and the cladding
The MFT transfers heat to the coolant (water) more efficiently since the metallic alloy is an improved heat conductor as compared to conventional ceramic uranium dioxide (UO2) nuclear fuel. Testing and analysis have indicated that during normal reactor operation, the increased heat transfer will allow the MFT to operate at higher power than conventional UO2 fuel and at a significantly lower temperature. The average operating temperature of the MFT is approximately 380 degrees C, compared to approximately 1500 degrees C for UO2 fuel. This lower temperature is a key advantage if an upset condition within the reactor were to occur.
An additional safety benefit of Lightbridge's MFT is found in the metallurgically-bonded cladding. Conventional UO2 fuel has a fuel-clad gap and fission gas plenum to accommodate fission gases that escape from the fuel pellets. The fuel-clad gap and fission gas plenum provides a mechanism for immediate fission gas release in the event of fuel failure in conventional UO2 fuel. This source of radioactivity is significantly reduced in Lightbridge's MFT. In the event of a cladding breach, the only fission products available for immediate release would be those located near the breach point. This greatly contributes to the reduction in the radioactive source term for cladding breach events.
"Lightbridge is undertaking a comprehensive fuel qualification program that includes advanced computer modeling and fuel demonstration in test reactors to establish the direct safety attributes of Lightbridge's metal fuel technology," said James Malone, Chief Nuclear Fuel Development Officer of Lightbridge Corporation. "At Lightbridge, we design our fuel with a focus on enhancing its safety benefits."
A more detailed explanation of the safety benefits of Lightbridge's MFT is provided in a white paper entitled, "Introduction to Safety Attributes of the Lightbridge Metal Fuel Technology." The paper was co-authored by James Malone, Norton Shapiro, Swaminathan Vaidyanathan and Aaron Totemeier, who are among the leading nuclear authorities in the world. The paper can be found at http://www.ltbridge.com/newsevents/technical.
About Lightbridge Corporation
Lightbridge is a U.S. nuclear energy company based in McLean, VA, with operations in Abu Dhabi, Moscow and London. The Company develops proprietary, proliferation resistant, next generation nuclear fuel technologies for current and future nuclear reactor systems. The Company also provides comprehensive advisory services for established and emerging nuclear programs based on a philosophy of transparency, non-proliferation, safety and operational excellence. Lightbridge's breakthrough fuel technology is establishing new global standards for safe and clean nuclear power and leading the way towards a sustainable energy future. Lightbridge consultants provide integrated strategic advice and expertise across a range of disciplines including regulatory affairs, nuclear reactor procurement and deployment, reactor and fuel technology and international relations. It leverages those broad and integrated capabilities by offering its services to commercial entities and governments with a need to establish or expand nuclear industry capabilities and infrastructure.
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SOURCE Lightbridge Corporation