written by reader A Nuclear Power Uprate for Your Portfolio

By lscherrer, December 27, 2011

What would you say if I told you we could generate 20% more electricity from a nuclear power plant generate less waste and at the same time making the power safer? Lightbridge Energy (LTBR) has the recipe.

Lightbridge started out in 1992 working on a fuel rod design that used thorium as a complement/alternative to enriched uranium rods. (Thorium is a separate, but very interesting story that has great long-term potential to generate weapons proliferation-resistant power and solve the impending uranium shortage.) There is now, however, a much hotter new idea from Lightbridge that grew out of their thorium research–an all-metal uranium fuel rod assembly that promises higher power with greater safety from existing reactors.

The Fukushima disaster of spring 2011 sent hopes for a nuclear renaissance evaporating in a cloud of steam. The tsunami knocked out primary and backup power to the plant itself, which prevented circulation of cooling water. As the fuel rods heated to over 2000ºC the zirconium cladding reacted with the steam to form hydrogen gas. This gas exploded, destroying the containment building and releasing radioactive materials. If Lightbridge’s all metal fuel had been used, the explosion and subsequent meltdown probably would not have happened.

In conventional fuel rods, cylindrical uranium oxide slugs are stacked in a hollow zirconium tube (the cladding). In the Lightbridge design