Milestone signals continued progress in development of first-of-a-kind Molten Chloride Fast Reactor
Southern Company, TerraPower and CORE POWER have successfully started pumped-salt operations in the Integrated Effects Test (IET), signifying a major achievement in the development of Generation-IV molten salt reactor technology, namely TerraPower’s first-of-a-kind Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).
“Southern Company believes the next generation of nuclear power holds promise in providing an affordable and sustainable net-zero future that includes reliable, resilient and dispatchable clean energy for customers,” said Dr. Mark S. Berry, Southern Company Services senior vice president of research and development. “It’s exciting to see each new landmark in the Integrated Effects Test, as it helps our nation rebuild lost molten salt reactor knowledge.”
Since installation of the IET at TerraPower’s laboratory in Everett, Washington, the project team has completed mechanical, electrical and controls verification and commissioned all systems. Commissioning employed hot argon and chloride salts to confirm readiness, including filling and flushing of drain tanks and verifying operation of freeze valves – a unique and important component for salt systems. Chloride salt has now been loaded into the primary coolant salt loops and pumped-salt operations have begun. A multi-month test campaign will provide valuable salt operations data and know-how for the MCFR program.
“The Molten Chloride Fast Reactor has the potential to meet the carbon-free needs of hard-to-decarbonize industrial sectors including and beyond electricity. The Integrated Effects Test will help us gather and evaluate data to support the development of our technology, and we are excited to launch pumped-salt operations,” said Jeff Latkowski, senior vice president for the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor.
Integrated Effects Test
The IET is a nonnuclear, externally heated, up to 1-megawatt multiloop system – the world’s largest chloride salt system developed by the nuclear sector – and culminates years of separate effects testing. The project was initiated by Southern Company and TerraPower under the U.S. Department of Energy Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC-15) award, a multiyear effort to promote the design, construction and operation of Generation-IV nuclear reactors. The project team also includes CORE POWER, EPRI, Idaho National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Vanderbilt University.
The next generation of nuclear reactors promise the same stable value to customers that is derived from the current operating nuclear fleet, can complement intermittent renewable resources on the grid, and hold the potential to provide zero-carbon, high-grade process heat and thermal storage for energy-intensive industrial markets and ocean transportation sectors that currently rely on fossil fuels.
“The startup of the Integrated Effects Test is a milestone achievement in the development of the first fast-spectrum molten salt reactor, and we are immensely proud to contribute to its success," said Mikal Bøe, president and CEO of CORE POWER. "The Integrated Effects Test allows us to collect that crucial last-mile data for a design and build of the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor and takes the team one step closer to a genuinely unique way to do new nuclear that is appropriate for the commercial marine environment."
The IET will inform the design, licensing and operation of an approximately 180-megawatt MCFR demonstration planned for the early 2030s time frame.
TerraPower is a leading nuclear innovation company that strives to improve the world through nuclear energy and science. Since it was founded by Bill Gates and a group of like-minded visionaries, TerraPower has emerged as an incubator and developer of ideas and technologies that offer energy independence, environmental sustainability, medical advancement and other cutting-edge opportunities. It accepts and tackles some of the world’s most difficult challenges. Behind each of its innovations and programs, TerraPower actively works to bring together the strengths and experiences of the world’s public and private sectors to answer pressing global needs. Learn more at terrapower.com.
About CORE POWER
CORE POWER is a US- and UK-based company formed in 2018 to build marine-appropriate reactor plants and the market for new nuclear in maritime. With over 60 key strategic shareholders from the global marine industry, and a fast-growing client base of shipyards, ship operators, trading houses and energy companies, CORE POWER is a leading provider of floating nuclear energy solutions. CORE POWER actively participates in the work required to modernize marine and nuclear regulations to pave the way for floating nuclear to take its rightful place as a key pillar of sustainable energy security and build a competitive, true zero-emission power system for the future of global trade. To learn more about CORE POWER please visit: https://corepower.energy.