Saturday, December 09, 2017

ThorCon’s Nuclear Thorium MSR Design Gains Momentum

Fall 2017 has been a watershed of progress for ThorCon, a startup developing liquid fuel fission power plants.  The company is working to implement its molten salt reactor (MSR) technology first in Indonesia.
The ThorCon Nuclear Island. This entire structure is underground. (Credit: 3D models by nathan crum / ThorCon) Click to Enlarge.

The Argonne National Lab has teamed up with ThorCon to apply for DOE grants that would support the development of ThorCon’s advanced MSR technology (pdf file).  One of the proposed projects would have Argonne apply its new high-fidelity simulation tools to ThorCon’s reactor design.  See also this technical summary of its MSR reactor (PDF file).

ThorCon employs a moderately high energy density resulting in a short (4 year) moderator life.  A ThorCon plant is made up  of one or more 250 MWe modules.  Each module consists of two sealed Cans.  Each Can houses a 250 MWe primary loop including a  Pot (reactor), pump, and primary heat exchanger.  The two Cans are duplexed.  At any time, one Can is operating and the other is in cool-down or stand-by mode.  The plant is designed so that the change out of a cooled-down Can is safe and quick.

First Investor
ThorCon’s first round of funding has been achieved.  One of the investors, Dr. Gary Bergstrom, the founder of Acadian Asset Management, states:
“I was impressed by the extraordinary engineering abilities of the team as well as the project’s potential to make a dent in the climate change problem.  Over my career I have been extensively involved with investing in emerging economies and I believe that many are promising markets for ThorCon’s clean, non-intermittent, and low cost (under 7 cents/kWh) electric power.  It also offers dramatic benefits in facility placement options and safety versus other alternatives.”
Indonesian Delegation Visit
In early November, a delegation from Indonesian President Widodo’s special advisory Council on the National Economy and Industry (KEIN), made a visit to the United States to carry out due diligence on molten salt reactor (MSR) technology and on the ThorCon design.

The delegation was escorted by ThorCon on visits to the Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station, the Argonne National Lab, the Oak Ridge National Lab, and the Office of Nuclear Energy of the Department of Energy in Washington, DC.

Mr. Zulnahar Usman, the chairman of the delegation, summarized the trip as “an unqualified success.  Our meetings and discussions with various nuclear and molten salt reactor experts in the United States have confirmed the safety and viability of the MSR technology.”

He added, ” The ThorCon power plant has also been confirmed as an excellent design whose stated schedule and costs are doable.  I am going to strongly recommend to President Widodo that the Government add the Thorium MSR technology to the country’s energy mix.”

Read more at ThorCon’s Nuclear MSR Design Gains Momentum

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