Proponents of MSRs say they are meltdown-proof, and that they are safer and more cost effective
A couple of Transatomic Power’s young co-founders – Mark Massie and Leslie Dewan – look more Twitterati than Nuclearati. But make no mistake. They’re obsessed with nuclear power. So much so that this week, the newfangled nuclear reactor they’re developing beat over 200 inventive contestants from across all areas of energy to scoop the top award at a U.S. Department of Energy “innovation summit,” voted by investors and entrepreneurs.
Massie, Dewan and fellow co-founder and CEO Russell Wilcox – the former CEO of electronic display innovator E-Ink – are developing what’s called a “molten salt reactor” (MSR). Proponents of MSRs say they are meltdown-proof, and that they are safer and more cost effective than the conventional reactors that the nuclear industry has built for some 50 years. Transatomic’s MSR would also use existing nuclear waste as fuel, thus alleviating the vexing problem of where to store nuclear waste (see their YouTube video below).
Pitted against breakthroughs in solar, water treatment, clean fracking, biofuels and other areas, the company this week beat eight finalists in a “pitch-off“ in front of a clean technology group that included a panel of four corporate and venture capital investors who moderated the pitches.
Notably, oil giant Shell was among the investor panel, represented by Richard Smith of Shell’s GameChanger Team, which is “responsible for finding, filtering and funding revolutionary technology and business models that are related to the energy industry,” according to a web page for the DOE event, called the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit. The other investors came from VCs Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, New Enterprise Associates, and Clean Energy Venture Group.
In fact, Shell was a co-sponsor that helped bring together the original 200-plus entrants in the contest, organized for DOE by New York-based Future Energy, a group that hosts a series of technology-investor match-ups.
Some industry watchers believe that the oil and gas industry will help fund and develop alternative reactors like MSRs, not only as a future source of energy for the public, but also because new and smaller nuclear reactors (MSRs can be made in affordable small sizes) could provide clean and effective heat that hydrocarbon companies would use in their own industrial processes. Oil and gas companies today rely on CO2-emitting fossil fuels to provide that high temperature “process heat.”
Other high temperature manufacturing industries like steel and cement could also benefit.
Molten salt reactors run at much higher temperatures than conventional solid-fuel reactors, which makes them more efficient. They put a radioactive element – uranium or thorium – into a liquid, which is a molten salt. Molten salts flow like water but have a much higher boiling point, which is good when you want to keep the liquid circulating. They are highly effective at absorbing and exchanging heat, which is what nuclear plants do – they tap heat from nuclear reactions to drive turbines.
MSR supporters say they are meltdown-proof because in the event of a malfunction the fuel drains harmlessly into a tank and the nuclear reactions stops. In conventional nuclear, although control rods can stop fission reactions, decay heat can build into a meltdown if cooling systems fail, as happened at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011. MSRs also function at normal atmospheric pressure, rather than at the high pressure of many conventional reactors.
Transatomic has referred to its reactor in the past as a “Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor” (WAMSR), although the ARPA-E contest refers to it by the more pedestrian moniker of “uranium molten salt reactor.”
Some MSR developers, like Flibe Energy of Huntsville, Ala., say that MSRs are best optimized by using liquid thorium fuel instead of liquid uranium.
Transatomic’s Wilcox says the company is still “fuel agnostic,” but that it is deploying first with uranium. “The reactor construction is simpler for us, there is an existing supply chain for uranium, and a uranium design lets us burn spent fuel which makes everyone happy,” he told me via email. He said that a uranium model would serve as “a stepping stone” to a thorium version.
The Latest Bing News on:
New type of nuclear power
- Tell it to the Chieftain: Safe nuclear power generation; the 'infeasibility' of nuclearon March 2, 2024 at 11:00 am
Chieftain readers share their thoughts on the perceived dangers of nuclear energy generation and the feasibility of nuclear power coming to Pueblo.
- U.S. Seeks to Boost Nuclear Power After Decades of Inertiaon March 1, 2024 at 3:12 pm
Measures moving through Congress to encourage new reactors are receiving broad bipartisan support, as lawmakers embrace a once-contentious technology.
- Quantum Kinetics Heralds New Dawn of Safe Nuclear Technologyon February 29, 2024 at 5:00 am
Safe Nuclear: A New Type of Radioactive Wastewater Purification Process SEATTLE ... solutions to the long-standing environmental concerns associated with nuclear power plants. As a pollution-fighting ...
- How To Play The Nuclear Power Renaissanceon February 23, 2024 at 4:28 am
A nuclear renaissance seems likely, but it may be difficult to find a proper investment opportunity in the space, but there’s a company that makes for a solid play because of its government contracts ...
- Why Britain Is Struggling With Nuclear Poweron February 22, 2024 at 5:39 am
The government wants more nuclear plants to help tackle climate change, but delays and soaring costs are complicating the effort.
- AtkinsRéalis, Atomic Energy of Canada to partner on development of new Monark nuclear power reactoron February 22, 2024 at 4:46 am
AtkinsRéalis ATRL-T and the federal government have reached a deal both say will accelerate development of a large new nuclear power reactor called the Monark, part of a flurry of new reactor models ...
- Nuclear Poweron February 18, 2024 at 5:31 am
All of them face unresolved questions around nuclear waste. But the low-carbon electricity provided by existing nuclear power plants is increasingly valuable ... by materials other than water; several ...
- Government approves construction permit for new type of nuclear reactor for first time in decades: ‘Major regulatory milestone’on February 15, 2024 at 4:00 pm
For the first time in 50 years, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a construction permit for a new type of nuclear test reactor. The Hermes demonstration reactor will be built in Oak ...
- Is nuclear power fizzling out in Florida? Not so fast... why it still has plenty of juiceon February 13, 2024 at 2:01 am
A new nuclear power plant in Tennessee will be the first ... because we are seeing so many different types of technology. We are seeing so many different types of nuclear science come to light ...
- A New Type of Nuclear Reactionon February 10, 2024 at 4:00 pm
ON p. 251 of this issue of NATURE, an account is given of recent investigations by Prof. O. Hahn, Prof. L. Meitner and F. Strassmann on the bombardment of uranium by neutrons. Prof. Meitner and Dr. O.
The Latest Google Headlines on:
New type of nuclear power
[google_news title=”” keyword=”new type of nuclear power” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]
The Latest Bing News on:
Molten salt reactor
- A Closer Look at Two Operational Small Modular Reactor Designson February 29, 2024 at 4:00 pm
13 molten-salt SMRs, and 12 microreactors. If you do the math, that’s 83 SMR designs under development, but only the KLT-40S and HTR-PM are actually operational. The KLT-40S is a pressurized water ...
- Tractebel partners with Thorizon on molten salt reactoron February 28, 2024 at 4:02 am
Tractebel will help Thorizon develop an advanced modular reactor (AMR) based on molten salt, using used NPP fuel from as an important energy source. The Thorizon One reactor core contains molten salt ...
- DOE, Kairos Unveil Milestone-Based Funding Agreement for Advanced Nuclear Demonstration Projecton February 21, 2024 at 4:00 pm
and commissioning of its 35-MWth Hermes molten salt “non-power” demonstration reactor, which the firm has proposed to build at the East Tennessee Technology Park Heritage Center (ETTP) site in Oak ...
- The US wants to build a different kind of nuclear reactor from a decades-old concept that could power ships and other off-the-grid locationson December 19, 2023 at 2:32 pm
The US has issued a permit to construct a different kind of nuclear reactor. Known as a molten-salt reactor, it could lead to smaller, easier-to-build nuclear power plants in the future that could ...
- Kairos Power's next-generation nuclear reactor in Oak Ridge gets the green lighton December 13, 2023 at 3:04 am
Unlike every commercial nuclear reactor in the country, Hermes will not be cooled by water, but by a molten salt mixture that captures heat produced by fission. While traditional water-cooled ...
- The Integral Molten Salt Reactor And The Benefits Of Having A Liquid Fission Reactoron June 7, 2023 at 2:23 am
So too for molten salt reactors (MSRs), which saw Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) create a number of prototypes, starting in 1954 when the Aircraft Reactor Experiment (ARE) reached first ...
- molten salt reactoron June 6, 2023 at 4:59 pm
Although to most the term ‘fission reactor’ brings to mind something close to the commonly operated light-water reactors (LWRs) which operate using plain water (H 2 O) as coolant and with ...
- Fast reactorson May 13, 2021 at 5:00 pm
In addition, the molten salt fast reactor concept is being considered as a long term option. The most mature fast reactor technology, the sodium cooled fast reactor, has more than 400 reactor-years of ...
- This young nuclear engineer has a new plan for clean energyon February 14, 2019 at 2:39 am
A National Geographic emerging explorer with a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, she wants to resurrect the molten-salt reactor, a 1960s-era design that she hopes will revive nuclear energy as a ...
- China partners with the US for next-gen nuclear reactor programson October 19, 2015 at 9:35 am
Several nuclear scientists and entrepreneurs gathered this week at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to observe the 50 th anniversary of the molten-salt reactor experiment. Instead of solid fuel ...
The Latest Google Headlines on:
Molten salt reactor
[google_news title=”” keyword=”molten salt reactor” num_posts=”10″ blurb_length=”0″ show_thumb=”left”]