An article in the MIT Technology Review describes how nuclear engineering company Lightbridge is testing a new type of fuel rod that is expected to increase energy output by between 10 and 17 per cent.
Lighbridge CEO Seth Grae states, ““We’re trying to do what is practical and what customers are asking us to address . . . The biggest problem is how to address the economics of nuclear power in a world of abundant natural gas, and with safety and security costs rising in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and Fukushima.”
The new rods are made of a zirconium/uranium alloy and are built in a spiral shape which allows more surface area to contact the water that flows past the rods more quickly than in current reactors. If the testing is demonstrated to be safe, adoption of these fuel rods in current reactors would increase energy output equivalent to building 10 new nuclear plants in the United States, and 40 throughout the world.