m-MSR Technology.

marine Molten Salt Reactors (m-MSRs) are extremely fuel efficient power-cores, leaving little waste

  • These unique power-cores are radically different from conventional pressurized light water nuclear reactors (LWRs / PWRs).
  • The m-MSR is a micro power-core of about 15MWe with extreme fuel efficiency. In an m-MSR, over 95% of the energy in the fuel is used, compared to less than 1% in an LWR. This means long lifecycles and very little waste left behind at the end.
  • The m-MSR has only few moving parts, operates at very high temperatures under only ambient pressure, and can be made small enough to provide ‘micro-grid-scale’ electric power for energy hungry assets, like large ships.
  • Mass-assembly will bring down the cost of energy below that of gas, diesel and renewables.
  • m-MSRs are a truly radical departure from the conventional atomic energy technology we know today and the technology that opens the door to a ‘second atomic era’, reversing climate change.

There are several molten salt reactor designs being proposed, but the m-MSR is based on the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR) being developed by TerraPower in the United States.

Major benefits of the MCFR as a base for the m-MSR include:

  • High operating temperatures which increase plant efficiency.
  • Quality heat enables new valuable industrial applications.
  • Very stable and inherently safe operation with no need for operator actions.
  • No spent fuel handling eliminating proliferation risks.

The MCFR answers many of the needs of industries with high-energy consumption including transport and industry. MCFR technology presents a low-cost reactor that can operate safely in high-temperature regimes.

This means the technology can do more than generate high efficiency electricity; it also offers potential in alternative industrial markets, such as process heat and thermal storage.

The MCFR design is a type of molten salt reactor (MSR). MSR experiments were conducted in the 1950s, and modern computing power, materials and engineering developments enable the revival of new research and development of MSR technology. Integrating new reactor options into a diversified fleet can bring high-quality, carbon-free energy to heavy industry users, such as onboard power production, water treatment plants, refineries and chemical processors.

TerraPower’s work focuses on a fast neutron spectrum, as opposed to the thermal neutron spectrum in which other salt reactors aim to operate. Molten chloride salt fuel serves as both the fuel and the coolant. Conceptual designs expanded into testing activities in January 2016 when the U.S. Department of Energy awarded a five-year, $40 million cost-sharing award for continued research and development into TerraPower’s MCFR project.

Ultra-modern nuclear energy in the form of the m-MSR can deliver on all of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) targets as well as increasing the speed of vessels without concerns of a corresponding increase in NOx, SOx and carbon or GHG emissions from the smoke-stacks of ships or ports – as there will not be any smoke – nor any other emissions.

This is technology that does not require the massive $1.4 trillion infrastructure-spend for its fuel source like that for synthetic fuels, hydrogen fuel cells or batteries will. The marine Molten Salt Reactor will be 70% cheaper to lease, operate and recycle than any synthetic hydrogen-based fuel.

  • Using liquid fuel at ambient pressure negates the need for a pressure containment vessel, like those needed for a conventional nuclear reactor. Since the system pressure is so low and the heat capacity is so high, the surrounding structure can therefore be much smaller and thinner, making it both safe and economical. That’s a unique new advantage in atomic energy.
  • In an m-MSR the fuel salt acts as both the coolant and the fuel. The ‘fissile fuel’ is infused into the salts so that the liquid fuel salt becomes both the fuel which produces the heat, and the coolant which transports the heat to the power conversion system to make electricity.
  • The operating temperature of an m-MSR is between 600-900°C. That makes the m-MSR an extremely efficient power-core. Heat is then removed from the core of the m-MSR via heat exchangers which feed that powerful heat into high power gas-turbines which in turn generate electric power.
  • The fuel salts have a very low viscosity, like water, and are impervious to radiation damage. The salts are chemically stable and do not change or alter their chemical state even after years of use in the fuel. This stability is exceptional and unique.
  • The prospect of guilt-free energy consumption is fueling public enthusiasm for ultra-modern nuclear technology. Guilt-free energy consumption, preservation of the environment and eradication of poverty all come to mind as things we all care deeply about.
  • m-MSRs emit no pollution and are powerful sources of local electricity production for large ships. These can be fast and efficient with minimal impact on both the marine environment and the ports in which they call.

The m-MSR has excellent safety characteristics

  • The job of an atomic reactor is to produce powerful heat.
  • Therefore, the coolant is key to avoid overheating. Loss of coolant in a conventional reactor can caused accidents. This cannot happen in an m-MSR.
  • In an m-MSR the fuel is the coolant, and the coolant is the fuel, so coolant cannot be lost.
  • This is the very definition of walk-away safety.
  • If an m-MSR malfunctions and the temperature starts going up, drain plugs melt and the entire load of liquid core fuel is poured into passive drain tanks that are intimately linked to an ultimate heat sink, keeping them cool and unreactive.
  • This is an accident mitigation feature that is possible only in fluid fuel reactors, and is perfect for shipping.
  • This is the only energy technology that leaves little if any waste, lasts for generations and provides constant, reliable energy that we can afford.