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Home / Publications / Journals / Nuclear Technology / Volume 144 / Number 3

Molten-Salt-Cooled Advanced High-Temperature Reactor for Production of Hydrogen and Electricity

Charles W. Forsberg, Per F. Peterson, Paul S. Pickard

Nuclear Technology / Volume 144 / Number 3 / December 2003 / Pages 289-302

Technical Paper / Fission Reactors /

The molten-salt-cooled Advanced High-Temperature Reactor (AHTR) is a new reactor concept designed to provide very high-temperature (750 to 1000°C) heat to enable efficient low-cost thermochemical production of hydrogen (H2) or production of electricity. This paper provides an initial description and technical analysis of its key features. The proposed AHTR uses coated-particle graphite-matrix fuel similar to that used in high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs), such as the General Atomics gas turbine-modular helium reactor. However, unlike the HTGRs, the AHTR uses a molten-salt coolant and a pool configuration, similar to that of the General Electric Super Power Reactor Inherently Safe Module (S-PRISM) liquid-metal reactor. Because the boiling points for molten fluoride salts are near ~1400°C, the reactor can operate at very high temperatures and atmospheric pressure. For thermochemical H2 production, the heat is delivered at the required near-constant high temperature and low pressure. For electricity production, a multireheat helium Brayton (gas-turbine) cycle, with efficiencies >50%, is used. The low-pressure molten-salt coolant, with its high heat capacity and natural circulation heat transfer capability, creates the potential for robust safety (including fully passive decay-heat removal) and improved economics with passive safety systems that allow higher power densities and scaling to large reactor sizes [>1000 MW(electric)].

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