US-based nuclear fuel technology company Lightbridge Corporation on 22 January announced it had received a notice of allowance for a key patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office related to its metallic nuclear fuel assembly design.

This latest patent allowance extends Lightbridge's patent portfolio coverage in the USA to an entire metallic fuel assembly design for Western-type pressurised water reactors, which comprise two-thirds of those in operation worldwide. However, Lightbridge said its fuel designs could also be adapted for use in almost all other power reactors around the world. Over the past year, Lightbridge has secured patents in China, South Korea and the European Union related to its advanced fuel design.

Lightbridge is in the process of finalising a joint venture with France’s Framatome to further develop and commercialise metallic fuel for nuclear plants around the world.