Lightbridge Corporation's advanced metallic nuclear fuel faces a "lower hurdle" on its path to regulatory approval and commercial use than new reactor technologies that are now under development, Lightbridge President and CEO Seth Grae said at a recent conference on the role of nuclear energy in achieving environmental and energy objectives. The Boston event was sponsored by Bloomberg BNA and Nuclear Matters. Grae's presentation can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ2yTSZe04M
His initial remarks begin after about a minute of introductions and end at about the 12 minute mark. Grae responses to questions begin at the 32:45 mark, ending at 34:50.
"It's a smaller and less expensive process to develop a new fuel for existing rectors than to develop a whole new kind of reactor..." Grae said. "I think we have a lower hurdle than some of the other projects."
In describing Lightbridge fuel technology, conference moderator Chris Gadomski of Bloomberg BNA said, in general, new reactor technologies under development today may not be available for commercial use until "post-2035."
Grae told the gathering that Lightbridge fuel is on track for U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing in the 2017 timeframe and commercial use in the 2020 timeframe. Support from major U.S. nuclear utilities is an important part of the projected timeline, he said.
"Unless you have a customer or utilities that want to use a product -- they fund the budget of the NRC -- the NRC won't line up the resources and that can cause delays and increased expenses," Grae said. "In our case, all of that is falling into place fairly well."
In May 2015, four U.S. electric utility companies representing nearly 50% of the nation's nuclear generation formally asked the NRC to prepare to review Lightbridge's patented metallic fuel design, citing opportunities for this fuel product to "significantly improve safety and fuel cycle economics" of nuclear power plants. The NRC relies on communications from U.S. utilities to adjust Commission staffing levels and budgets in anticipation of regulatory review of licensing applications. The utilities said their joint letter was submitted in advance of an expected application to the NRC in 2017 for use of Lightbridge fuel lead test assemblies in an "operating U.S. pressurized water rector as early as 2020."
Grae also outlined the independently validated benefits of Lightbridge's proprietary metallic fuel design at the June 24 conference.
- A 1,000°C reduction in average fuel operating temperature, compared to conventional uranium dioxide pellet fuel, resulting in dramatic safety improvements;
- Improved heat transfer and fluid flow, increased structural strength, and improved performance during transients and accidents;
- 10% more power and longer fuel cycles or up to 17% more power with the same fuel cycle length for existing pressurized water reactors (PWRs);
- Up to 30% more power with the same fuel cycle length for new build PWRs;
- Increased revenue and improved profit margins for existing nuclear power units;
- Lower total levelized cost per kilowatt-hour for new build reactors;
- Increased competitiveness of nuclear power versus fossil or renewable energy sources.
Other speakers at the Boston conference were William Mohl, President, Entergy Wholesale Commodities; former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg, co-chair, Nuclear Matters; Jay Surina, CFO, NuScale; Daniel Weekley, Vice President-Corporate Affairs, Dominion Resources; and Simon Irish, Chief Executive and Director, Terrestrial Energy.
Discussion topics included the role of nuclear energy in helping to achieve environmental and energy objectives, how to balance environmental commitments and demands for cheaper energy, and how advanced technology reactors might affect the industry.
Nuclear Matters is an information and education campaign designed to raise awareness of important national energy policy issues. Bloomberg BNA, formerly known as The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bloomberg L.P. and a source of legal, tax, regulatory, and business information for professionals.
Forward Looking Statements
This news release contains statements that are forward-looking in nature within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding the Company's competitive position and product and service offerings. These statements are based on current expectations on the date of this news release and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ significantly from such estimates. The risks include, but are not limited to, the degree of market adoption of the Company's product and service offerings; market competition; dependence on strategic partners; and the Company's ability to manage its business effectively in a rapidly evolving market. Certain of these and other risks are set forth in more detail in Lightbridge's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Lightbridge does not assume any obligation to update or revise any such forward-looking statements, whether as the result of new developments or otherwise.
Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
1600 Tysons Boulevard - Suite 550
McLean, VA 22102