Molten salt reactors – a nuclear reboot
At Seaborg Technologies we are developing molten salt reactors. Molten salt reactors – or MSRs for short – consititute a fundamentally new type of nuclear reactors, free of the challenges that plague conventional nuclear power while producing abundant, reliable, clean and carbon-free energy.
So how does this work?
The magic trick is the liquid fuel - the molten salt. Conventional nuclear power reactors (which include every operating nuclear power plant in the world) produce electricity from manufactured solid fuel pellets of low-enriched uranium, submerged in water which provides both cooling and moderation (slowing down) of the neutrons in the core . If this water is lost, the reactor thus runs the risk of melting down. In an MSR the molten salt itself acts as both the fuel and the coolant . In this way, should the reactor lose its cooling, it also loses its fuel and the reactor process stops automatically. In any conceivable loss-of-coolant accident scenario, the reactor will therefore simply shut itself down.
So what about residual heat produced after the reactor is shut down? Simple. If the core reaches a threshold temperature, a plug of frozen salt melts at the bottom of the core and drains the warm salt to a dump tank where it cools down by itself. Entirely passive and incredibly simple.
Moreover, liquid salt reactors possess another massive advantage over conventional solid fueled reactors. While it is necessary for conventional reactors to operate at very large pressures, an MSR operates at only one bar atmospheric pressure. All in all, this means that our MSR cannot explode nor melt down!
This principle of safety-by physics rather than safety-by-engineering makes these reactors economically superior to conventional nuclear reactors that rely on expensive engineering solutions and redundant accident mitigation systems to minimize safety risks. Furthermore, the salt chemically binds volatile fission products, radioactive matter that can escape in the event of a very severe accident, and thus even in the most hypothetical accident scenarios, dangerous radioactive elements will never enter the biosphere. MSRs are therefore the only truly economic and safe option for reliable base-load energy production. That is why we at Seaborg firmly believe that our MSR technology represents the future of sustainable energy production.
The Seaborg CUBE reactor – the superior choice
At Seaborg, we are proud to showcase our CUBE (Compact Used fuel BurnEr) reactor concept. Packed with great ideas and solid engineering solutions, it is the culmination of years of work from the Seaborg team. Our design combines the best of established MSR technologies with ground-breaking innovations in reactor core materials. Some of our unmatched features include:
- unparalleled non-proliferation profile,
- excellent waste-burning abilities using thorium as catalyst,
- ultra-compact form factor, five times smaller than competing MSRs,
- and a fully modularized core optimized for mass production.
Adding to this, the CUBE reactor has a long list of additional benefits including exceptional high thermal efficiency, a wide range of fuel options, excellent load power following capabilities (compatibility with variable renewables), a host of process heat applications and so on. Our unique use of thorium not only enables waste burning in a thermal spectrum reactor, but also greatly improves the sustainability of nuclear power. The waste salt remaining at the end of the reactor lifetime can be used to fuel new reactors operating directly on a closed thorium fuel cycle – and thus supply carbon-free energy to a rapidly developing global population for centuries to come! The CUBE reactor therefore truly makes nuclear sustainable.
CUBE – technical information
In July 2015 the Seaborg Technologies reactor design was internationally validated in an extensive engineering assessment study as one of six competing MSR designs, and was deemed fit for further development by the study, Energy Process Development (EPD) Ltd. You can find the EPD report here (external link). In August 2016 our reactor design was included and analyzed in the IAEA technical publication “Advances in Small Modular Reactor Technology Developments” (external link).
For technical information, engineering and details on the neutronics we refer to our whitepaper.