Lightbridge Corporation and AREVA NP in North America said Wednesday they had signed a binding Heads of Terms Agreement for a joint venture that sets out conditions for manufacturing and commercializing Lightbridge’s advanced metallic fuel technology.
Lightbridge’s proprietary technology is designed to significantly improve economics, efficiency and safety of existing and new nuclear power plants, the company said. The parties agreed that the cash and non-cash contributions to the JV will be balanced and that the JV will be owned on a 50-50 basis. The result will be equal economics for the respective JV owners.
The JV will be the exclusive vehicle through which Lightbridge and AREVA NP will research, develop, demonstrate, fabricate, license, market and sell nuclear fuel assemblies that utilize Lightbridge’s proprietary metallic fuel designs and other advanced nuclear fuel intellectual property contributed by both Lightbridge and AREVA NP. The scope of the agreement encompasses fuel development for pressurized water reactors (excluding VVER reactor types, boiling water reactors, light water-cooled small- and medium-sized reactors and designated research reactors.
The companies said they expect to complete a definitive JV Operating Agreement by the end of the year with the joint venture to launch officially in the first quarter of 2018.
In March 2016, AREVA NP and Lightbridge announced a joint development agreement to develop their next-generation fuel partnership. The two companies made steady progress since announcing a term sheet for the JV in October 2016.
Lightbridge is in the process of planning and conducting preparatory work for fabrication and irradiation testing of metallic fuel samples, under commercial reactor operating conditions, at the Halden research reactor in Norway.
Lightbridge is also working closely with four leading U.S. nuclear utilities to gain valuable feedback on development of its fuel technology. It signed a letter of intent with a U.S. utility for a lead test assembly demonstration of Lightbridge-designed nuclear fuel in a commercial U.S. nuclear power plant.
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