Terrestrial Energy (TIEs) has the objective of commercializing its proprietary Molten Salt Reactor technology in Canada by 2021. Molten Salt Reactor technology represents a revolution in nuclear safety, waste and proliferation resistance, and in energy cost-competitiveness. TEI’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) is a small modular design, with models ranging from 29 MWe to 290 MWe -ideally suited for remote communities and industrial operations,including on- and off- grid power provision. Canada provides a favorable jurisdiction for the company’s Molten Salt Reactor development, licensing and marketing. TEI’s founding board consists of executives from the oil-sands, mining and finance sectors.
The Company also wishes to announce that it has successfully closed its final seed round of financing. The round was oversubscribed, and the Company wishes to thank all of its investors for their support. The Company has more than sufficient funds in its treasury to carry it forward to the Conceptual Design stage, as planned.
Terrestrial Energy also announced the appointment of Hugh MacDiarmid as the Chairman of the Board of Directors. Mr. MacDiarmid brings highly relevant industrial experience to the Company’s project – particularly his service as President and CEO of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.
Canadian David LeBlanc is developing the Integral Molten Salt Reactor, or IMSR. The goal is to commercialize the Terrestrial reactor by 2021.
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
So each 300 MW thermal MSR would generate $1 billion per year in oil revenue from the oilsands.
A 300 MW thermal reactor would be the same as a 100 MW electrical reactor. Even if costs were as much proportionally as a $10 billion 1 GWe conventional nuclear reactor (the high costs of the most expensive european or US projects.) the $1 billion cost would be recovered in about 2-4 years. Also, they indicated that there is no turbine to produce electricity since only steam is used. So the costs should be $700 million max.
This profitability means that the first 200 units should easily be profitable. Usually making more units has a improvement rate in lowering costs by a few percentage points for each later unit. The oilsand units would also generate the money to help payoff research and development costs, which would initial come from oilsand taxes and oilsand partners.
In previous design discussions about a similar Denatured Molten Salt Reactor , David LeBlanc believed that capital costs could be 25% to 50% less for a simple DMSR converter design than for modern LWRs (light water reactors).
The 25 MWe version of the IMSR is the size of a fairly deep hottub.
* No fuel fabrication cost or salt processing = extremely low fuel costs
* Under 0.1 cents/kwh
* Right size reactors, right pressure steam
Later units that include electricity generation can still send steam for cogeneration (use steam for desalination or the oilsand production. This provides another revenue stream for the IMSR nuclear plants.
Looking at the cost components of current nuclaer reactors
Old Nuclear Coal New LWR est IMSR first IMSR later 1 Fuel 5.0 11.0 5.0 0.1 0.1 2 Operating, Maintenance - Labor and Materials 6.0 5.0 8.0 1.0 0.2 3 Pensions, Insurance, Taxes 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 0.2 4 Regulatory Fees 1.0 0.1 1.0 1.0 1.0 5 Property Taxes 2.0 2.0 2.0 2.0 1.0 6 Capital 9.0 9.0 39.0 20.0 5.0 7 Decommissioning and DOE waste costs 5.0 0.0 5.0 0.5 0.1 8 Administrative / overheads 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 Total 30.0 29.1 60.0 27.6 8.6
I think the IMSR can get down to 0.86 cents per Kwh.
Dr. David LeBlanc and Chris Popoff of Terrestrial Energy conducted an in-car interview regarding the use of nuclear power to make oilsands production more environmentally friendly.
Their reactor is a Denatured Molten Salt Reactor called the “Integral Molten Salt Reactor”, drawing on the single fluid MSR research conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
There is an important difference between the Canadian and the US regulatory authorities. The Canadian Regulatory system is more “performance based” than the US NRC “prescriptive based” system. The difference and advantage is Terrestrial Energy can present an overall safety case (long before the reactor is built of course) which the company and regulator then work on together.
All of the US rules are based on light water reactors. Canada’s nuclear regulators could allow a molten salt reactor to be built and operating in 6 years.
The oilsands and molten salt reactors are a good energy transition with an overlap. Molten salt reactors can produce the steam to get oil from the oilsands. The economics work where more oil from the oilsands pays for the the development and the first few hundred molten salt reactors.
Molten salt reactors would create “green” bitumin production. It would bring oilsand oil production to be equal or better environmentally than other oil production. Currently oilsand oil is less environmentally friendly than other oil sources.
73 minute video explains details of the Molten Salt reactor and SAGD oil extraction from the oilsands
They can get to 250 – 300 MWe that would fit on the back of a truck.
They will start with a smaller reactor.
They will go for a burner reactor and not a breeder. This will enable them not to have tritium issues.
The IMSR reactors do not need engineered safety. They are passively safe.
Molten salt deals with all of the rational anti-nuclear complaints.
The smaller size of the reactor matches the size of oilsand project stages. Staged development is needed to de-risk projects.
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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.
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