US nuclear energy company Lightbridge announced on 30 May that it has received a Notice of Allowance in China for another key patent covering a tri-lobe variant of its extruded metallic fuel rods used in Russian-type VVER reactors. The grant of the patent was contingent upon payment of the issuance fee which has since been paid by Lightbridge. The patent is expected to be issued in the coming weeks.
Seth Grae, President & Chief Executive Officer of Lightbridge Corporation, commented, “This latest patent expands the scope of our patent protection in China by adding coverage for Russian-type VVER reactors, which are the dominant type of reactors currently under construction worldwide. China has two VVER-1000 reactors in operation at the Tianwan site, with two more VVER-1000 units under construction and an additional two VVER-1200 reactors being proposed for construction at the same site. With our previously issued patents covering Western-type PWR reactors, we have built a robust patent portfolio in China, which represents a significant market for Lightbridge metallic fuel for deployment in both existing and new-build reactors.”
He added: “Lightbridge metallic fuel could be particularly attractive in China, to offer a 30% power uprate capability to new-build PWR and VVER nuclear power plants, resulting in an estimated 13% reduction in upfront capital costs to build the plants. Based on an estimated capital cost of $4,500 per kilowatt of generating capacity, the capital cost savings could total approximately $85bn to deploy an additional 150GWe of nuclear power through 2050.”