Terrestrial Energy Inc. (TEI), a Canadian advanced nuclear reactorcompany, is on its way to making their innovative design a reality. Last year, they successfully completed the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) pre-licensing vendor design review for TEI’s new Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) design.
The Canadian government assessed the design to determine whether any obvious issues exist that would stop the licensing process and that should be resolved before the licensing process actually starts. Success at that stage showed that Terrestrial Energy is serious and has done their homework on what the regulator needs to approve their reactor design.
Terrestrial Energy’s goal is deployment in the next ten years.
The key advantage of this GenIV reactor design is that it uses molten salt to carry the fuel as well as cool the system. At first glance, that might seem odd. But molten salt, with the uranium dissolved in it, can operate at low-pressure and doesn’t need chemical or mechanical driving forces which can cause problems.
The IMSR can be maintained and operated with relative simplicity, important for an industrial reactor with potential for global applications. The power plant can be sized from small to large. The reactor is in a permanently sealed modular core-unit, that includes multiple redundant heat exchangers and pumps (see figures). This whole unit is replaced periodically on a seven-year cycle resulting in little reactor down time.