Lightbridge Corporation, a nuclear fuel technology company based in Reston, Virginia, USA, has received a Notice of Allowance from the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO) for a key divisional patent covering two of the company’s innovations in nuclear power generation. The technology is said to significantly enhance the economics and safety of nuclear power, operating around 1000°C cooler than standard fuel.
Lightbridge is expanding its worldwide patent coverage for the deployment of its innovative fuel design. The patent covers Lightbridge’s metallic fuel assembly design for pressurised water reactors incorporating four-lobe, helically twisted metallic fuel rods, as well as the company’s proprietary manufacturing method for metallic fuel rods using Powder Metallurgy processes. The patent is expected to be issued once the registration fee has been paid by Lightbridge.
“This latest patent expands the scope of our patent protection in South Korea, an important world nuclear market and a global supplier of nuclear technology,” stated Seth Grae, President and CEO of Lightbridge Corporation. “Lightbridge metallic fuel could be particularly attractive in South Korea. It can produce up to 30% more power than existing fuel in new reactor designs, while reducing operating costs and enhancing the safety of existing nuclear reactors.”
South Korea has 24 nuclear power reactors in operation, including Shin Kori 3, the country’s newest unit, an APR1400 that went online in December 2016. Three additional APR1400 units are under construction in South Korea. In the United Arab Emirates, a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation is constructing four APR1400 units, the first of which was completed in May 2017. Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) is also in advanced negotiations to pursue the construction of APR1400 units in the United Kingdom, according to recent media reports.
“South Korea remains the world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear energy, with more than 22 gigawatts of installed capacity producing about a third of its electricity. By expanding Lightbridge’s worldwide patent portfolio, including in South Korea, Lightbridge is positioning itself to meet the fuel demands of the world’s major nuclear markets,” added Grae.