Molten Energy has developed a unique conceptual design for a molten salt reactor called the Stable Salt Reactor. In this design, the fuel salt is loaded into tubes that resemble the standard cladding tubes into which solid pellets are loaded in a conventional water cooled reactor. The tubes are arranged into assemblies that resemble the assemblies used in conventional reactors. The coolant that moves on the outside of the tubes is also a molten salt operating at essentially atmospheric pressure.
I first learned about Moltex Energy while reading a report issued in July 2015 titled MSR Review: Feasibility of Developing a Pilot Scale Molten Salt Reactor in the UK. That report evaluated about half a dozen different molten salt reactor concepts and decided that the Moltex concept was the one that would best suit the UK’s core competencies in terms of its readiness to develop and deploy at a pilot scale.
The more I read, the more interested I became in the concept. Though many of my friends and associates who are enthused about the capabilities of molten salt technologies have assured me it is not a problem to move fuel salt around, and they have developed plans that seem to avoid most of my concerns about systems full of mobile fission products, I’m a bit of a traditionalist. It is reassuring when reactors are designed to keep fission products in a known location and surrounded by a layer of high quality material that keeps them from moving around.
Aside: I’ve also been convinced by designers at ThorCon and Terrestrial Energy that their designs address my concerns, they just use a larger container as their sealed initial fission product barrier. End Aside.
On August 31, 2015, I had a lengthy conversation with Dr. Ian Scott, the designer of the Moltex concept, and John Durham, Moltex’s initial funding supplier and business strategy developer.
I think you’ll enjoy learning about their design and finding one more example of the kind of innovative thinking that is percolating within the nuclear technology sector.
Ian and John admit that they are in the very early stages of development and have a long road in front of them, but their enthusiasm and vision is infectious.