Testing for Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR under way with research partners

November 19, 2020, 7:00AMNuclear News

Terrestrial Energy and the Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG) have started a graphite irradiation testing program at NRG’s Petten Research Centre’s High Flux Reactor (HFR), located in the Netherlands. According to Terrestrial Energy, which is based in Ontario, Canada, the work is part of broader program of confirmatory testing of components and systems for the company’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR), designed to produce both electricity and industrial heat.

The testing program at NRG was planned to confirm the predicted performance of selected graphite grades throughout the seven-year cycle of an IMSR core. The testing was designed in cooperation with Frazer-Nash Consultancy, and will simulate IMSR core conditions at a range of operating temperatures and neutron flux conditions.

“Our work with NRG at its Petten HFR facility is an important element of our overall IMSR test program, now well underway. The start of in-core irradiation tests speaks to our progress and comes after many months of prior work,” Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy, said on November 12. “The NRG work also reflects an important feature of our testing strategy. That is to engage existing laboratories offering existing capabilities rather than build those in-house, a strategy that is essential for our early deployment schedule.”

Vinod Ramnandanlal, NRG commercial director, added, “We recognize the commercial capabilities of molten salt technologies and the growing interest in their development and deployment today. We are delighted to be supporting Terrestrial Energy as it moves forward with in-core irradiation testing, the first developer to commence such testing.”

The HFR is owned by the European Union and operated by NRG.

Fuel testing at Argonne: Earlier, on November 10, Terrestrial Energy announced that detailed testing of the IMSR’s fuel salt had begun at Argonne National Laboratory. Terrestrial Energy USA began working with ANL in 2016 after receiving an award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) program.

“We are delighted to expand our relationship with ANL, which began in 2016 as the result of DOE’s GAIN program,” said Irish. "Our first GAIN award catalyzed what is now a full-scope commercial engagement with the lab."

ANL will use an extensive array of characterization techniques and advanced laboratory equipment to determine thermo-physical properties of the IMSR fuel salt to regulatory standards. ANL will prepare and test fuel salt mixtures that replicate the fuel salt composition over a full operating cycle. The laboratory investigations will include melting point determinations, density, viscosity, heat capacity, and thermal diffusivity measurements.

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