Canadian David LeBlanc is an expert on molten salt nuclear reactors. Nextbigfuture covered a talk he gave on denatured molten salt reactors.
Terrestrial Energy Inc. (“TEI”) was founded in late 2012, and is domiciled in Ontario, Canada. Its mission is to commercialize its patent-pending Molten Salt Reactor technology in Canada. The company has been formed around Dr. David LeBlanc, and his intellectual property portfolio. Dr. LeBlanc is the internationally recognized expert on MSR technology.
LeBlanc is going to develop the Integral Molten Salt Reactor, or IMSR. The goal is to commercialize the Terrestrial reactor by 2021. They have oilsand partners.
Molten Salt Reactor Advantages
* Many potential variations but sharing unique advantages
* Increased Safety
* Reduced Costs
* Resource Sustainability
* Greatly Reduced Long Lived Wastes
* Fission products almost all benign after a few hundred years
* The transuranics (Np,Pu,Am,Cm) are the real issue and reason for “Yucca Mountains”
* All designs produce less TRUs and can be kept in or recycled back into the reactor to fission off (IMSR will keep the waste inside)
* Over a thousand fold improvement over conventional “Once Through”
Molten Salt and Oilsands
* Using nuclear produced steam for Oil Sands production long studied
* Vast majority of oil only accessible by In-Situ methods
* No turbine island needed so 30% to 40% the capital cost saved (instead of steam to turbine for electricity just send it underground to produce oil from oilsands)
* Oil sands producers expected to pay 200 Billion$ on carbon taxes over the next 35 years, funds mandated to be spent on cleantech initiatives
* Canada Oil Sands in ground reserves of 2 trillion barrels, current estimate 10% recoverable (likely much higher with cheaper steam)
* 64 GWth nuclear to add 6.4 million bbls/day (200B$/year revenue)
* 64 GWth needed as about 200 small 300MWth MSRs
* Oil Sands a bridge to MSRs then with time, MSRs a bridge to not needing oil
* No fuel fabrication cost or salt processing = extremely low fuel costs
* Under 0.1 cents/kwh
* Right size reactors, right pressure steam
The IMSR is a simplified design denature molten salt reactor design that takes features of the Small Modular Advanced High Temperature Reactor (SmAHTR)
With the right combination of power density and core design Terrestrial could build the IMSR with upwards of six times the electrical output of the same size vessel as SmAHTR. It would require replacing the graphite core every four years. The fuel would reside temporarily in a holding tank during the core swap. That marks an improvement over the SmAHTR concept, which requires a swap of the solid fuel core every four years.
LeBlanc envisions IMSR reactor sizes ranging from 25 MWe to 300 MWe.
The 25 MWe version of the IMSR is the size of a fairly deep hottub
The 50-megawatt (electric) SmAHTR is a conceptual innovation at Oak Ridge. It is a small version of the liquid cooled 1500 MWe AHTR – on which Oak Ridge is collaborating with China – that places the heat exchange inside the reactor vessel.
SmAHTR and AHTR introduce liquid cooling (molten salts) to high temperature next generation solid fuel reactors such as those that use TRISO fuel – pebble bed reactors – and those that use prismatic blocks where the fuel is embedded in graphite blocks that serve as the moderator.
The IMSR will use a core of graphite moderator slabs between which the fuel flows which LeBlanc says, “allows other advantages like tricks to limit the amount of neutrons reaching the vessel wall.” This addresses a problem that developers of liquid fuel fast reactors will find difficult to crack, he notes.
At the 18 minute, talks about current University consortium starting to work towards 25 MWE prototype and a major engineering firm.
Oil sands’ $200 Billion carbon taxes over 35 years, mandated to be spent on cleantech.
At about 17 minutes, talks about the opportunity to use molten salt reactors for oilsands and then bridge over to pure nuclear energy powered civilization.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.