Lightbridge and Framatome end Enfission joint venture

23 March 2021

Lightbridge Corporation and Framatome have agreed to dissolve their Enfission joint venture. Launched in January 2018, Enfission was to develop, license and sell nuclear fuel assemblies based on Lightbridge's innovative metallic nuclear fuel technology.

A Lightbridge Fuel test assembly (Image: Lightbridge)

Reston, Virginia-based Lightbridge's fuel is made from a zirconium-uranium alloy and uses a unique composition and fuel rod geometry, which the company says can significantly reduce fuel operating temperatures, improve the fuel's structural integrity and enhance its response to abnormal events.

Lightbridge and Framatome - then Areva - in 2016 launched an engineering task force to verify the promise of Lightbridge's fuel. A binding agreement to set up a joint venture to develop, manufacture and commercialise Lightbridge's advanced metallic fuel technology was signed in September 2017.

Under the joint venture agreement, Enfission was to produce Lightbridge fuel assemblies initially for operators of US commercial nuclear power plants, followed with production of Lightbridge fuel assemblies for other types of reactors and for markets around the world.

However, in a joint statement yesterday the two companies announced they had reached a settlement agreement that dissolves the Delaware-based Enfission joint venture.

"As per the terms of the agreement, Lightbridge and Framatome are each free to pursue their ongoing technology development without any constraints," the statement said. "Lightbridge has agreed to pay approximately USD4.2 million, consisting of unpaid invoices and certain other costs incurred by Framatome.

"Framatome and Lightbridge retain all intellectual property rights to their respective background technology. The agreement resolves all disputes between the companies and terminates all agreements pertaining to the joint venture."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News