Terrestrial Energy thinks its molten salt reactor may have a future in ammonia

June 13, 2022, 12:00PMNuclear News
A cutaway of the Integral Molten Salt Reactor and balance of plant. (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

Ammonia is a carbon-free energy carrier that could be produced using thermal energy from nuclear power plants. Terrestrial Energy announced June 9 that it has signed an agreement with engineering firm KBR to explore the use of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) for both hydrogen and ammonia production.

Nuclear-powered cruise ship on the drawing board

June 8, 2022, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
Rendering of the Thor and Sif concept cruise ships. (Image: Ulstein)

The Norwegian shipbuilding company Ulstein has developed a design concept for a cruise ship fueled by a molten salt nuclear reactor. In the company’s concept, the 500-foot-long, 60-passenger ship, named Thor—in reference to the Norse god as well as the thorium used in the reactor core–would generate its electricity with the onboard reactor. The ship would also serve as a charging station for a fully electric companion ship named Sif, named after the goddess who was Thor’s wife.

SNC-Lavalin, Moltex to collaborate on SMR project

April 19, 2022, 9:30AMNuclear News
Rory O’Sullivan, Moltex Energy’s chief executive officer, North America, speaks at the SNC-Lavalin/Moltex partnership announcement ceremony at CNA2022.

SNC-Lavalin and Moltex Energy are partnering to advance the development and deployment of small modular reactor technology in Canada, the companies announced last week at the Canadian Nuclear Association’s 2022 conference in Ottawa, Ontario. The partnership will support Moltex as it pursues the licensing and construction of its 300-MW Stable Salt Reactor–Wasteburner (SSR-W), a molten salt reactor that uses nuclear waste as fuel.

HTGR locked in for U.K. demonstration project

December 7, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News


The U.K. government has confirmed its selection of the high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR) for Britain’s £170 million (about $236 million) Advanced Modular Reactor Demonstration Program.

Greg Hands, minister for energy, clean growth, and climate change, delivered the news on December 2 via a speech at the Nuclear Industry Association’s annual conference. “Following evaluation of responses received,” Hands said, “I’m pleased to announce today that we will focus on HTGRs as the technology choice for the program moving forward—with the ambition for this to lead to a demonstration by the early 2030s.”

NNL approved: “As we look to the future and the part we play as a scientific superpower, the U.K.’s unparalleled experience in gas-cooled technologies makes HTGRs the common-sense choice for pursuing advanced nuclear,” said Paul Howarth, chief executive officer at the United Kingdom’s National Nuclear Laboratory. “Following announcements already made on financing for the next stage of the Rolls-Royce SMR program and the proposed Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill to make large-scale plants more achievable, the U.K. is primed once more to be a global leader in nuclear technologies—large, small, and advanced.”

China moves closer to completion of world’s first thorium reactor

July 22, 2021, 6:58AMANS Nuclear Cafe
China’s molten salt loop experiment. (Photo: Thorium Energy World)

China is moving ahead with the development of an experimental reactor that would be the first of its kind in the world and “could prove key to the pursuit of clean and safe nuclear power,” according to an article in New Atlas.

House appropriators pass bill with more funding for nuclear energy

July 19, 2021, 12:01PMNuclear News

The House Committee on Appropriations last week approved an Energy and Water Development funding bill for fiscal year 2022 that provides an 11 percent increase for the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy.

Reported favorably out of committee on July 16 via a party-line vote of 33 to 24, the House bill sports a total price tag of $53.2 billion, an increase of $1.5 billion from the FY 2021 enacted level. (The committee’s official report on appropriations for the next fiscal year can be found here.)

Moltex clears first phase of CNSC vendor design review

May 28, 2021, 9:28AMNuclear News

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has completed phase one of its pre-licensing vendor design review (VDR) for Moltex Energy’s 300-MW Stable Salt Reactor–Wasteburner (SSR-W)—a molten salt reactor that uses nuclear waste as fuel. CNSC entered into an agreement with Moltex in November 2017 to conduct the initial phase of the review.

Advanced reactor economics and markets

May 21, 2021, 2:41PMNuclear NewsCharles Forsberg and Eric Ingersoll
TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy jointly developed the sodium-cooled Natrium reactor with the turbine hall, nitrate heat storage tanks, and cooling towers separated from the reactor at the back of the site.

The viability of nuclear power ultimately depends on economics. Safety is a requirement, but it does not determine whether a reactor will be deployed. The most economical reactor maximizes revenue while minimizing costs. The lowest-cost reactor is not necessarily the most economical reactor. Different markets impose different requirements on reactors. If the capital cost of Reactor A is 50 percent more than Reactor B but has characteristics that double the revenue, the most economical reactor is Reactor A.

The most important factor is an efficient supply chain, including on-site construction practices. This is the basis for the low capital cost of light water reactors from China and South Korea. The design of the reactor can significantly affect capital cost through its impact on the supply chain. The question is, how can advanced reactors boost revenue and reduce costs?

Axios reviews “green” fuel options for commercial shipping

March 10, 2021, 12:01PMANS Nuclear Cafe

In an article published on March 5, Axios reviews the ways the world’s maritime companies are trying to decarbonize. The maritime industry, “from ferries to freighters—is trying to navigate a once-in-a-century transition away from fossil fuels to new, cleaner means of propulsion,” the article explains.

Emissions from shipping: The article notes that the world’s economy relies on international shipping, with more than 90 percent of global trade traveling via maritime vessels. The issue, though, is that “the vessels burn about 4 million barrels of oil a day, accounting for almost 3 percent of the world’s carbon emissions.” The article then cites a United Nations report from 2018 that sets greenhouse gas reduction targets of 50 percent by 2050 compared to 2008 levels.

Core Power thinks nuclear will make waves in commercial shipping

November 5, 2020, 9:40AMNuclear News

Illustration of Core Power’s modular MSR concept. Image: Core Power

Core Power is a tiny startup that is bullish on the prospects for nuclear-powered ocean transportation. The company announced on November 2 that it is part of a team that has applied for a cost-shared award from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (ARDP) to build a prototype molten salt reactor (MSR). Core Power believes that MSRs could be used for propulsion or electricity generation to decarbonize the world’s commercial shipping fleet.

Based in London, England, Core Power is the only non-U.S. member of the team, which includes TerraPower, Southern Company, and Orano USA. As a marine engineering firm, Core Power says that it offers its ARDP partners “access to pent-up demand from a market with real customers.” An announcement of ARDP “risk reduction for future demonstrations” award winners is expected in December.

Generation IV International Forum hosts MSR webinar

August 25, 2020, 12:10PMNuclear News

The Generation IV International Forum (GIF) is hosting a free webinar on August 26 on the topic of “Molten Salt Reactor Safety Evaluation—A U.S. Perspective.”

The webinar, which is intended for policy makers, managers, regulators, students, and the general public, will start at 8:30 a.m. (EDT). Registration is required.