Terrestrial Energy has entered into the first phase of the reactor regulatory process in Canada by deciding to submit its design for a vendor design review in February 2016. That process, which is scheduled to be completed 18 months after acceptance, is a voluntary step that developers can take to obtain “an overall assessment of the vendor’s nuclear power plant design against the most recent CNSC design requirements for new nuclear power plants in Canada.”
Terrestrial Energy should complete the Canadian regulatory process for vendor design review within about four months.
Terrestrial Energy USA has also notified the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission of its intention to submit a design certification application during fiscal year 2019.
Terrestrial Energy is in business because it has determined that its advanced small modular reactor, the IMSR, is a “better way to generate heat compared to fossil fuel combustion.” Their product is not limited to generating electricity; electric power generation is only one of several different markets for the high quality, 700 ℃ heat that can be provided by the system’s tertiary salt loop. According to Irish’s presentation, it is possible for heat customers to be located up to several kilometers from the reactor.
One of the markets where participants have expressed the most interest is in petrochemicals.
A vast quantity of heat is consumed in refining petroleum and in extracting unconventional crude oil from reservoirs like Canadian oil sands or Colorado shale rock.
The heat from the integral molten salt reactor could be used in a process that creates hydrogen. And the interesting thing about that is, even though natural gas in North America is one of the most competitive sources of BTUs in the world, Terrestial Energy is pretty close to being cost competitive with steam methane reforming, which is the standard methodology today, with high temperature steam electrolysis driven by IMSR heat and power.
Synthetic fuel production can also combine coal with hydrogen from water or natural gas to produce clean, domestic distillate fuels. If done in the traditional way with heat input from burning part of the carbon input, it is an emission-intensive process, but the IMSR heat would avoid a major source of emissions.