ATLANTA, Nov. 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Southern Company and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have established a cooperative agreement to design, construct and operate the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment – the world’s first critical fast-spectrum salt reactor.

Selected for funding under DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP), the small reactor experiment will advance TerraPower’s Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) — a technology important to a sustainable clean energy future. Southern Company research and development (R&D) will lead the effort in a collaboration that includes TerraPower, Idaho National Laboratory (INL), CORE POWER, Orano Federal Services, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and 3M Company. The team’s ongoing alliance with DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy through the ARDP is essential for delivering this key technology and will be supported by a five-year, $170 million cost-shared funding agreement.

“Southern Company is committed to advancing next-generation nuclear as part of a comprehensive strategy to deliver clean, safe, reliable, affordable energy to the customers we’re privileged to serve,” said Dr. Mark S. Berry, Southern Company vice president of R&D. “The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will support the commercialization of a revolutionary technology on a timescale that addresses climate change benchmarks and delivers on Southern Company’s goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. We’re honored to work with DOE and our many industry team members on this truly groundbreaking experiment.”

The Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment will be the world’s first fast-spectrum, salt-fueled nuclear fission reactor to go critical, meaning that it is operating on a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction. The project represents a significant inflection point in the technology demonstration road map for TerraPower’s MCFR, as the project will inform the design, licensing and operation of an MCFR demonstration reactor. An environmental review will be completed for the Molten Chloride Reactor Experiment in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act before final design and construction begin.

Nuclear generation will be central to an affordable and sustainable net-zero future – providing reliable, resilient and dispatchable clean energy. A novel concept for nuclear generation, the MCFR is one of the most advanced Generation IV nuclear technologies under development. It offers many performance and economic benefits including flexible, highly efficient clean electric power generation as a complement to the increased use of intermittent renewable resources on the grid. The technology also has the potential to provide carbon-free high-grade process heat and thermal storage for difficult-to-decarbonize industrial markets and ocean transportation sectors.

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