Research & Development

NRG Begins Experiment On Safety Of Molten Salt Reactors

By David Dalton
5 September 2017

NRG Begins Experiment On Safety Of Molten Salt Reactors
The core of the HFR at Petten in the Netherlands.

5 Sep (NucNet): NRG has begun an irradiation programme at the High Flux Reactor (HFR) in Petten, which will yield new data on the safe operation of molten salt reactors, the Netherlands-based nuclear services provider said on 5 September 2017. NRG said it began the irradiation of a mixture of lithium and thorium fluoride salts on 10 August 2017. The experiment is being carried out to investigate the stability of the salt-fuel mixture during and after irradiation, the evolution of fission gases and the effect of the salt-fuel mixture on surrounding materials. This information can be used to answer questions about which materials can be used as containment for the salt-fuel mixture and what the most suitable salt mixtures are. Molten salt reactors are powered by a radioactive solution that blends fissionable isotopes with a liquid salt. They can run on uranium, but are also ideally suited for thorium, an alternative nuclear fuel resource that is cleaner, safer, and more abundant than uranium. The International Atomic Energy Agency said molten salt reactors operate at higher temperatures, making them more efficient in generating electricity, while their low operating pressure can reduce the risk of coolant loss, a major accident risk. According to the IAEA, molten salt technology needs at least a decade of intensive research, validation and qualification before it can be commercialised. The NRG research is being carried out in collaboration with the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission in Karlsruhe, which has synthesised the fuel and will investigate samples in its laboratories after irradiation. The research is part of a programme funded by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs. NRG said the Dutch government wants to reduce the country’s CO2 emissions by at least 90% by encouraging carbon-free electrical energy production.

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