The MoltexFLEX team, based in Warrington, northeast England, has developed the nuclear reactor which uses molten salt in an unprecedented way. As it has no moving parts, the FLEX reactor is simple in both design and operation, MoltexFLEX said. The company plans to have its first reactor operational by 2029.
The company, a subsidiary of Canada-based Moltex Energy, said the advanced nuclear technology has the flexibility of gas-fired power stations, but it generates electricity at a lower cost, and without carbon emissions.
The reactor uses a patented system with two molten salts: one acting as a fuel, the other circulating as a coolant. This allows the reactor’s heat to be extracted through natural convection, without the need for pumps.
The 750°C heat produced by the reactor could also be used for water desalination and more efficient hydrogen production. Roughly the size of a two-storied house, each reactor has the potential to power 40,000 homes.
Construction Would Take Just 24 Months
According to Moltex, the reactor can respond to changes in energy demand, automatically entering an idle state or returning rapidly to full power. Additionally, it would take just 24 months to build a 500 MW power plant, the company said.
“We recognised the need for an energy supply that can support renewables when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. In the FLEX reactor, we have a solution for consumers and countries alike,” said MoltexFLEX chief executive officer David Landon.
According to the company, the cost of electricity generated by the FLEX reactor will be comparable to that of wind at £40 (€45, $44) per MWh.
Due to its simplicity, the FLEX reactor does not require expansive steel and concrete structures, greatly reducing the operational and maintenance costs. Once online, it can be operated with the same skills and equipment used in a fossil fuel plant, and can last 60 years with only two scheduled breaks over that lifetime to refuel, MoltexFLEX said.
“The FLEX reactor provides the safety net of affordable domestic energy, but is versatile enough for applications ranging from decarbonising heavy industry to powering cargo ships,” Mr Landon added.