The Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) has given U.S. supplier Lightbridge Corp. permission to conduct irradiation testing of its metallic fuel at the Institute for Energy Technology's Halden Research Reactor in Halden, Norway, Lightbridge said this week.
With this step completed, Lightbridge can test its fuel-assembly products under conditions similar to those in commercial reactors. NRPA said Lightbridge's metallic fuel offers increased safety, as its thermal conductivity results in lower centerline temperatures.
Lightbridge said testing of the fuel is expected to begin in 2017.
With all regulatory approvals in place in Norway, we are confident that we will continue to remain on schedule to begin demonstration of our advanced metallic nuclear fuel in the Halden Research Reactor under commercial power reactor operating conditions," Lightbridge CEO Seth Grae said. "We will then conduct post-irradiation examination and have independent confirmation of the results. This data will be shared with utilities and our fuel fabrication partner(s) to support license applications with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and/or nuclear regulators in other countries for use of the Lightbridge-designed metallic fuel in commercial reactors."
The NRPA also said the fuel assembly developed by Lightbridge is expected to be able to reduce the chances of releasing fission material should a breach occur at a nuclear facility.