The power industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by energy security focus, net zero pledges, market leadership shifting from advanced economies, hydrogen production, carbon pricing, and net zero security attributes, and growing importance of technologies such as Urania (uranium dioxide, UO2) and Plutonia (plutonium dioxide, PuO2), and mixed oxide (MOX). In the last three years alone, there have been over 439,000 patents filed and granted in the power industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Environment Sustainability in Power: Ceramic oxide nuclear fuel.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

90+ innovations will shape the power industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the power industry using innovation intensity models built on over 83,000 patents, there are 90+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, smart lighting system, PCM thermal energy storage, and solid electrolyte fuel cell membrane are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Ceramic oxide nuclear fuel, geothermal heat pumps, and hybrid PV plants are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are combined-cycle gas turbines and ethylene co-polymer PV modules, which are now well established in the industry. 

Innovation S-curve for environmental sustainability in the power industry

Ceramic oxide nuclear fuel is a key innovation area in environmental sustainability

Ceramic oxide nuclear fuels are essential to nuclear energy, which generates about 20% of total electricity in the US and 15% globally. Because of their unique properties, UO2, mixed oxide (MOX), and PuO2 are suitable for nuclear fuel applications. They are highly refractory, with an open crystal structure that allows fission products to be retained and have excellent ability to resist radiation damage.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies.  According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established power companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of ceramic oxide nuclear fuel.

Key players in ceramic oxide nuclear fuel – a disruptive innovation in the power industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Ultra Safe Nuclear is one of the leading patent filers in ceramic oxide nuclear fuels. Ultra Safe Nuclear is a company that provides safe, reliable, and secure nuclear energy to world markets. Recently, Ultra Safe Nuclear announced the opening of its Pilot Fuel Manufacturing (PFM) facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, US.

In terms of application diversity, TerraPower , Hitachi , and Electricite de France are some of the leading patent filers in ceramic oxide nuclear fuels. Based on geographic reach, Korea Electric Power , Rosatom , and Areva NP are some of the leading patent filers in ceramic oxide nuclear fuels.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the power industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Power.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.