This molten salt reactor is the next big thing in nuclear

By popular mechanics

A new molten salt reactor design can range from just 50 megawatts of electricity (MWe) to 1,200 MWe, its creators say, burning nuclear waste in the process.

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Energy daily Founder Llewellyn King suggests that large reactors represent a ploy of public sentiment, as public disruptions continue to push the popular small reactor startup NuScale periodically.

King explained that light-water reactors – the way most nuclear plants in the world are and All Nuclear plants in the US today dominated nuclear power development the way internal combustion engines eclipsed and then crushed the original electric cars 100 years ago.

This means that while scientists first developed molten salt reactors decades ago, they never had the opportunity, King says, to gain public favor. The combination of factors is the redundancy of politics and human fad, when major technology is introduced.

Startup Elysium Technologies is behind the design of the new molten salt, and this is partly due to scales from small to huge, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will require a much smaller reactor plant for an exemplary and pilot project. in the form of. Elysium is far from the only molten salt reactor in the game – a 2019 NRC presentation The molten salt column of the Advanced Reactor table lists Ilium and seven others.

While the prevalent crop of small reactors represents their safety as a major selling point, molten salt reactor concepts also require less safety infrastructure. They are mostly under ambient pressures rather than high pressures that enhance containment structures in conventional light-water nuclear plants.

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Elysium’s reactor is also a fast reactor. “[B]Economize it will be a fast reactor with molten fuel, it will be able to use nuclear waste as fuel and burn it over time. A fast reactor has an unsalted neutron flux and light water reactors do not require any moderators like water, ”explains King. This is important for technology, but other molten salt designs have also created problems – must be strongly shielded against rapid neutron bombardment.

Photo Credit: Elysium Technologies USA

Elysium’s design also uses its own fuel in the reactor process, and the fuel can also be recycled from other reactors or weapons. The reactor uses 95 percent of the fuel, Elysium says, and what is left is toxic for a very short period.

“These fission products typically decay to background levels in about 300 years, as opposed to more than 10,000 years for conventional solid fuel reactor waste,” Elysium States on its website.

Elysium is also like “natural” safety designs, much like a low-tech and effective emergency valve. The company states:

“Freeze plugs are a section of pipe that is actively cooled to produce and maintain frozen salt plugs. If temperature limits are exceeded or electrical power is lost, the plug melts and the reactor drain material goes to passively cooled tanks that are configured for safe closure in sub-critical geometries with passive cooling . ”

It symbolizes how the concepts of today’s advanced reactor are formulated, proposing ideas from a dozen scientific and engineering fields to take the best and mix them all. If Elysium’s pilot plant is approved, it will be just 10 MWe – to power a very small city, and to show that Elysium means safe and efficient business.

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