The company says it has entered into two framework agreements with Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA), the US Department of Energy’s operating contractor for INL. The deals include a cooperative research and development agreement and a strategic partnership project agreement, each with an initial duration of seven years.
Lightbridge is currently developing its proprietary next-generation nuclear fuel technology called ‘Lightbridge Fuel’ for small modular reactors and existing light-water reactors. According to the company, the fuel significantly improves reactor safety, fuel proliferation resistance and economics.
The initial phase of work under the two agreements will be aimed at generating irradiation performance data relating to various thermo-physical properties of Lightbridge’s delta-phase uranium-zirconium alloy.
The work is expected to include irradiation testing in the advanced test reactor (ATR) of fuel samples utilizing enriched uranium provided by DOE. Data from this experiment will play a key role in fuel performance modeling as well as regulatory licensing efforts for the commercial deployment of the Lightbridge Fuel, the company says.
The subsequent phases of work will see post-irradiation examination of the irradiated fuel samples and loop radiation testing in the ATR. Work will also include post-irradiation examination of one or more uranium-zirconium fuel rodlets, in addition to transient experiments in the transient reactor test facility (TREAT) at INL.
“US nuclear power generation is more essential than ever before in addressing climate change and achieving net-zero carbon emissions,” stated Jess Gehin, Associate Laboratory Director for Nuclear Science & Technology at INL. “We are pleased to partner with American companies such as Lightbridge to utilize our unique DOE national laboratory resources to support the development of advanced nuclear fuel technologies that enables US leadership in nuclear energy.”
Seth Grae, President and CEO of Lightbridge, said, “Securing a long-term strategic relationship with INL, in collaboration with DOE, gives Lightbridge access to state-of-the-art ATR and TREAT reactor test facilities right here in the United States. Entry into these two framework agreements lays a strong foundation for advancing our critical path fuel development efforts in the coming years toward the commercial deployment of Lightbridge Fuel.”