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South Korea Grants Lightbridge Key Patent for Metallic Nuclear Fuel Design

MCLEAN, Va., June 4, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Lightbridge Corporation (Nasdaq:LTBR), a leading innovator of nuclear fuel designs and provider of nuclear energy consulting services, today announced that the Korean Intellectual Property Office has approved and issued to Lightbridge a key patent covering the Company's multi-lobed metallic fuel rod design and fuel assemblies. Patent No. 10-151116 – "Nuclear Reactor (Variants), Fuel Assembly Consisting of Driver-Breeding Modules for a Nuclear Reactor (Variants) and a Fuel Cell for a Fuel Assembly" – expands international protection of Lightbridge's proprietary fuel technology with indicated benefits of enhanced reactor safety and improved operating economics.

"The South Korean patent is another important milestone in the development of our fuel assembly designs for existing and new build pressurized water reactors," said Seth Grae, Lightbridge President and Chief Executive Officer. "Korea represents a significant potential market for Lightbridge metallic fuel with 24 operating pressurized water reactors and an additional 12 reactors either under construction or planned by 2035, according to the most current data compiled by the World Nuclear Association."

South Korea also is an active exporter of nuclear power reactors, marketing its units in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia. The South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy aims to export 80 reactors worth $400 billion by 2030, the association reports.

The advantages of Lightbridge's metallic fuel design were confirmed in independent third-party analyses published in 2012 and 2013, Grae added. These reports, which include a peer-reviewed article published in Nuclear Technology, are available for download at http://ir.ltbridge.com/. He said the indicated benefits of Lightbridge's fuel include:

  • A 1,000°C reduction in average fuel operating temperature, compared to conventional uranium dioxide pellet fuel, resulting in dramatic safety improvements;
  • Improved heat transfer and fluid flow, increased structural strength, and improved performance during transients and accidents;
  • 10% more power and longer fuel cycles or up to 17% more power with the same fuel cycle length for existing pressurized water reactors (PWRs);
  • Up to 30% more power with the same fuel cycle length for new build PWRs;
  • Increased revenue and improved profit margins for existing nuclear power units;
  • Lower total levelized cost per kilowatt-hour for new build reactors;
  • Increased competitiveness of nuclear power versus fossil or renewable energy sources;

The commercial nuclear energy industry is projected to grow rapidly at a time of rising global demand for reliable, carbon-free, base load electric power. There are currently 437 operable civil nuclear reactors in 30 countries around the world, with 66 reactors under construction and 490 on order, planned or proposed, according to the World Nuclear Association. By 2040, the International Energy Agency projects a 58% increase in nuclear capacity from a combination of power uprates and reactor construction.

In April 2015, the nuclear fuel managers at Dominion Generation (NYSE:D), Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), Exelon Generation (NYSE:EXC) and Southern Company (NYSE:SO) asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to prepare to review Lightbridge's fuel design, in advance of an expected application in 2017 to use the Company's fuel in a U.S. reactor as early as 2020. The NRC relies on communications from U.S. utilities to adjust Commission staffing levels and budgets in anticipation of regulatory review of licensing applications.

"This formal expression of interest by major U.S. utilities is the strongest endorsement to date of Lightbridge fuel by potential customers," Grae said. The Commission posted the utilities' expression of interest in Lightbridge's fuel and supporting documents on its official web site at http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1513/ML15134A092.pdf

About Lightbridge Corporation

Lightbridge is a nuclear energy company based in McLean, Virginia. The Company develops proprietary next generation nuclear fuel technologies for current and future nuclear reactor systems. Lightbridge's breakthrough fuel technology is establishing new global standards for safe and clean nuclear power and leading the way to a sustainable energy future. The Company also provides comprehensive advisory services for established and emerging nuclear programs based on a philosophy of transparency, non-proliferation, safety and operational excellence. Lightbridge consultants provide integrated strategic advice and expertise across a range of disciplines including regulatory affairs, nuclear reactor procurement and deployment, reactor and fuel technology and international relations. The Company leverages those broad and integrated capabilities by offering its services to commercial entities and governments with a need to establish or expand nuclear industry capabilities and infrastructure.

Important milestones achieved by Lightbridge in 2014 include U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) approval and issuance in February of the key patent (#8,654,917) covering the Company's multi-lobed metallic fuel rod design and fuel assemblies. In July, the Company was issued its first international patent on its fuel rod design by the Commonwealth of Australia Patents Office. A provisional patent application was filed in the U.S. relating to use of the Company's metallic fuel in CANDU-type power reactors.

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Forward Looking Statements

This news release contains statements that are forward-looking in nature within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, including statements regarding the Company's competitive position and product and service offerings. These statements are based on current expectations on the date of this news release and involve a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ significantly from such estimates. The risks include, but are not limited to, the degree of market adoption of the Company's product and service offerings; market competition; dependence on strategic partners; and the Company's ability to manage its business effectively in a rapidly evolving market. Certain of these and other risks are set forth in more detail in Lightbridge's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Lightbridge does not assume any obligation to update or revise any such forward-looking statements, whether as the result of new developments or otherwise.

CONTACT: Gary Sharpe Investor Relations and Corporate Communications Lightbridge Corporation 1-571-730-1213 gsharpe@ltbridge.com

Source:Lightbridge Corporation