Sunday, December 20, 2015

Simon Irish - Value of Molten Salt Design in SMR Innovation

Simon Irish is the CEO of Terrestrial Energy. Terrestrial is very nuch a going energy business, with 30 employees and associates. They plan to build a Small Molten Salt Reactor, with a core that can be transported from factory to home site. The IMSR is now expected to produce around 400 MWT or a little less than 200MWe. Which makes the iMSR core only a little less powerful than the ThorCon core, but the iMSR willachieve its fuel economy by a very different fuel system. Terrestrial is planning to go through the canadian Regularatory system, which is designed to work with innovative reactor designs. The NRC is not designed to license innovative reactor designs, and it has thousands of regulations, that simply are inappropriate for MSR safety determinations.


Andrew Jaremko said...

Thanks for posting this Charles. I watched it again and saw it in a whole different way because of all the things that have been going on in the world, especially with South Australia's current Royal Commission and Ben Heard's efforts at DecarbonizeSA. IMO Simon's analysis is right on target.

I think, though, that system designers need to ask their engineers to create load following generators that can be driven by flexible heat sources. Natural gas turbines can ramp moderately quickly. Andrew Dodson did a presentation of his modeling of load following MSRs at TEAC 5 in 2013. In his model, the reactor stabilized itself in about 15 seconds following a load transient, and with a close to critically damped temperature profile. I think that's what both engineers and regulators like to see.

If I understand correctly, nuclear power is currently bsaseload (as Simon says in the presentation) because it was deliberately designed that way, and because solid fueled reactors have to deal with the delayed production of xenon-135 from the fission products tellurium-135 and iodine-135. It's the delayed production of Xe-135 from I-135 that makes NPP operators say that their main job is 'fighting xenon' (a comment I saw on Brave New Climate.) According to Wikipedia (, 'The process of buildup of xenon-135 from an accumulated iodine-135 can temporarily preclude a shut-down reactor from restarting. This is known as xenon-poisoning or "falling into an iodine pit".'

The MSR is a much more flexible and stable heat source. Let's give the engineers better design objectives!

Charles Barton said...

I have frequrntly called attention to the load following potential of MSRs. I regrd Load following, backup, and peak power generation as potentually the most important potential for Terrestrial's IMSRs.


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