Terrestrial Energy awarded DOE grant for IMSR licensing

May 17, 2023, 3:00PMNuclear News
An illustration of an IMSR plant. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

Ontario–based Terrestrial Energy announced yesterday that its U.S. branch has been awarded a regulatory assistance grant from the Department of Energy to support the company’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing program for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) plant.

The licensing program is one of the 10 industry-led projects that the DOE selected last week for $22.1 million in funding through the Office of Nuclear Energy’s industry funding opportunity announcement.

The IMSR is a molten salt–cooled and –fueled unit that 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. The reactor is designed to use standard-assay low-enriched uranium, avoiding the need for the high-assay form known as HALEU.

Last month, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission completed phase two of its prelicensing vendor design review for the IMSR, concluding that there are no fundamental barriers to licensing the plant. (Phase one began in April 2016 and was completed in November 2017.)

According to yesterday’s announcement, the successful completion of the CNSC review supports Terrestrial’s engagement with the NRC and enables future collaboration between the U.S. and Canadian nuclear regulators. In June 2022, the NRC and CNSC completed a joint technical review of the IMSR as part of a 2019 interagency memorandum of cooperation aimed at enhancing regulatory effectiveness through collaborative work on technical reviews of advanced reactor and small modular reactor technologies.

Official words: “The Department of Energy’s support for our IMSR licensing program with the NRC is well timed,” said Simon Irish, Terrestrial Energy’s chief executive officer. “It follows the successful completion last month of an extensive multiyear review of the IMSR plant design against Canadian regulatory standards. The experiences and engineering capabilities we developed over that extensive regulatory engagement are consequential to our business. This DOE regulatory assistance grant helps accelerate our NRC licensing activities.”

Assistant secretary for nuclear energy Kathryn Huff said that the industry funding opportunity “vitally assists in reducing technical and economic challenges associated with current and future nuclear technologies” and that “this final round of awards supports technological advancements to ensure nuclear energy keeps delivering emissions-free power for all Americans.”

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