Lightbridge fuel offers Pu management option

13 February 2023

Simulations have shown that a fuel rod designed by the company significantly outperforms traditional MOX fuel in consuming plutonium, and would be well-suited for consuming excess weapons-grade material.

Lightbridge's metallic fuel (Image: Lightbridge)

A study using a variant of Lightbridge Fuel in which uranium-zirconium alloy was substituted with an equivalent plutonium-zirconium composition found that the Lightbridge plutonium disposition fuel variant consumed some 5.5 times more plutonium per fuel rod than mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel. The research has been published in Nuclear Technology, in a paper titled 'Improved Disposition of Surplus Weapons-Grade Plutonium Using a Metallic Pu-Zr Fuel Design' co-authored by Braden Goddard, of the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering at Virginia Commonwealth University, and Aaron Totemeier, senior nuclear fuel consultant to Lightbridge.

Lightbridge's proprietary next-generation nuclear fuel technology features metallic fuel rods with a helical multi-lobe design that can be used to fuel small modular reactors as well as existing light water reactors and pressurised heavy water reactors. The high burnup of metallic fuel makes it particularly useful for consuming plutonium and reducing the proliferation risk from any residual plutonium: according to a 2018 study published in the peer-reviewed journal Nuclear Engineering and Design, any residual plutonium in the used fuel is "useless" for weapons purposes.

"The findings reported in this study were subject to rigorous review by top scholars, validating the plutonium disposition and proliferation resistance of this variant of Lightbridge Fuel rods," Lightbridge President and CEO Seth Grae, President and CEO of Lightbridge, said. "The findings will help to drive further awareness and support of Lightbridge Fuel within government and the private sector."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News