Lightbridge and Areva agree terms for fuel joint venture

02 November 2016

Lightbridge Corporation and Areva NP announced they have agreed key terms for the creation of a 50-50 joint venture to develop, manufacture and commercialize fuel assemblies based on Lightbridge's "next generation" metallic nuclear fuel technology.

In March, USA-based Lightbridge announced the two companies has signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) to form the joint venture. However, at that time, it said they had yet to agree on the terms and conditions to complete the remaining scope of work, as well as a technology licensing arrangement and other agreements needed to form and operate the joint venture company. The companies agreed to work exclusively together in the area covered by the JDA, which will remain in force until the formation of the joint venture or 31 December at the latest.

The two companies announced today they have now signed a term sheet outlining key agreements for a US-based joint venture covering fuel assemblies for most types of light water reactors, including pressurized water reactors, boiling water reactors, small modular reactors and research reactors.

Lightbridge's advanced metallic fuel is made from a zirconium-uranium alloy and uses a unique composition and fuel rod geometry, which, the company says, enables it to operate at a higher power density than uranium oxide fuels in use today.

Lightbridge CEO Seth Grae said the signing of the term sheet "creates a viable and well-defined commercialization path for our patented metallic nuclear fuel technology in the global market". He added, "This agreement marks a major milestone for Lightbridge. We appreciate the support from Areva NP in rapidly moving this process forward."

Lionel Gaiffe, senior executive vice president for Areva NP's fuel business unit, said: "We look forward to advancing nuclear fuel performance through this relationship ... Next-generation fuel technology has significant potential to help sustain existing nuclear energy assets, which will serve as the foundation for a clean energy portfolio worldwide."

The two companies said they expect to formalize the joint venture "in the coming months".

In January, Lightbridge received final regulatory approval for irradiation testing of its metallic fuel at Norway's Halden research reactor, which is expected to begin in 2017.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News