Terrestrial Energy chosen for coal conversion program

November 8, 2022, 12:05PMNuclear News

Ontario’s advanced nuclear technology firm Terrestrial Energy yesterday announced the signing of a letter of intent (LOI) with TerraPraxis, a U.K.-based nonprofit devoted to climate solutions, to cooperate on the latter’s Repowering Coal initiative—a program aimed at integrating clean heat sources with existing infrastructure at coal-fired power plants in North America and elsewhere.

The initiative was developed with partners Bryden Wood, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Microsoft, Schneider Electric, University at Buffalo, and others.

According to the announcement, Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) has been selected as the “first candidate heat source” for Repowering Coal due to the technology’s “unique capabilities,” among which are a high-temperature heat supply required for coal-fired boiler replacement and an ability to be deployed quickly and at the scale necessary for replacing 2 terawatts of global coal capacity by 2050. Under the LOI, Terrestrial and TerraPraxis will work on a standardized systems interface between the IMSR and coal-fired power plant systems, which they will apply to candidate sites.

What they’re saying: “TerraPraxis is a visionary leader in climate and energy, focused on practicable, energy-transition pathways,” said Simon Irish, Terrestrial Energy’s chief executive officer. “We are pleased to partner with TerraPraxis and its Repowering Coal consortium on a project with such high-impact potential. Repowering coal with Generation-IV nuclear can decarbonize a difficult-to-abate part of the energy system rapidly and cost effectively.”

Eric Ingersoll, managing director of TerraPraxis, stated, “We are impressed with Terrestrial Energy’s regulatory capabilities and in particular its consistent and steady progress to conclusion of the Canadian nuclear regulator’s review of the IMSR. We look forward to incorporating their technology into the design of the Repowering Coal system while mindful of regulatory requirements as we conduct feasibility studies with multiple customers.”

The tech: Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR is molten salt–cooled and –fueled and can supply heat at 585°C via a tertiary molten salt loop for direct use in on-site electric power generation and energy-intensive processes including desalination, hydrogen production, petrochemical refining, and clean synthetic transport fuels production.

In June of this year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission completed a first joint technical review of the technology. The reactor was selected in December 2019 as the first advanced non–light water nuclear reactor technology to be studied under an August 2019 NRC/CNSC memorandum of cooperation aimed at enhancing regulatory effectiveness through collaborative work on technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies.

Meanwhile: Also yesterday, TerraPraxis unveiled an application dubbed EVALUATE at COP27 in Egypt. According to TerraPraxis, the app, developed with Microsoft, “enables coal plant owners and investors around the world to evaluate hundreds of coal plants for fast, low-cost, and repeatable conversion to emissions-free power generation sources.” (In September, TerraPraxis and Microsoft entered into an agreement to build and deploy a set of digital tools to automate the design and regulatory approval needed to decarbonize coal facilities with nuclear power.)

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