Integral Molten Salt Reactor is a proprietary design in which all the primary components (pumps, moderator and primary HX) of the reactor core are sealed in a compact and replaceable component, the IMSR Core-unit. They are targeting 2024 to have an operational demonstration commercial reactor.
* A new Core-unit is exchanged every 7 years with the old Core-unit stored on site.
* The IMSR is a “pool-type” reactor with no penetrations into the reactor vessel.
* IMSR fuel, the Fuel Salt, is a liquid, high-temperature fluoride salt that operates at ~700C.
* These salts have high thermal stability and are excellent heat transfer liquids.
* IMSR Fuel salt can be produced today with current methods and within current regulations.
* The Fuel Salt, which contains the nuclear fuel, never leaves the reactor core vessel during operation.
* Fuel Salt is circulated in a closed loop up through the graphite core, where the fuel fissions in a thermal neutron spectrum creating heat within the fuel, which then circulates back down through heat exchangers giving up heat to a secondary salt in a primary heat exchanger and isolated loop. The Fuel Salt circulates back into the core.
* The reactor core contains a graphite moderator – outside of the moderated area, the salt is no longer active.
* A secondary heat exchanger exchanges heat via secondary salt to a third loop containing a 600C industrial salt that can be transported up to 5 kilometers
This type of high temperature reactor allows for much more than just electricity production. An IMSR power plant can deliver 600C heat by liquid salt up to 5 kilometers to an industrial energy park. This allows the IMSR baseload heat production of nuclear to be switched from electric power provision to the production of the most valuable high energy products in off-peak hours. This maximizes use of IMSR heat energy and allows the IMSR to run in the most capital efficient manner.
Desalination of seawater and brackish water is extremely energy intensive. The IMSR is uniquely suited to provide clean, heat energy and electric power on an industrial scale needed at cost-competitive prices to enable far greater deployment of desalination technologies today.
Hot salt mass energy that is would be a grid heat sink for excess wind and solar power
Hot industrial salts can be directed to a hot salt mass energy storage, a method that is already in use today. These hot salt thermal energy reservoirs supported by IMSR heat can be used as a grid sink for excess Wind and Solar electric power production. This system negates any need for grid-based electric power storage and is highly complementary to wind and solar power production. The cheap and effective salt-based thermal storage would act as an energy battery that will allow the demand curve to be supplied at the appropriate service levels without damaging surges taxing the grid system.
H2 from High Temperature Steam Electrolysis
Making H2 from natural gas is the dominant method today, but is highly sensitive to NG input prices. The (IMSR) is uniquely suited to provide a reliable and secure alternative method for H2 production that has negligible input price volatility. The IMSR’s can deliver the temperatures (600C+) and electric power that are needed for alternative methods for H2 and O2 production.
Terrestrial Energy USA and Idaho Nation Laboratory (INL) have shown that the IMSR would be the most effective system of those reviewed to date to enable the best method of clean cost-competitive H2 supply.
Synthesized Transport Fuels
Production of transport fuels, including gasoline, using the IMSR, processes heat and electricity at a cost-competitive positon with fossil fuels and represents a dramatic shift in economics of liquid fuel synthesis technology. This shift could have a profound effect on the industrial production methodologies of a broad range of valuable chemicals and fuels used in our industrial society. Demonstrating the production of synthetic gasoline at an industrial scale will certainly be followed closely by the production of other fuels such as aviation fuels, LPG, Diesel and others.
IMSR process heat can enable large scale ammonia production
During 2016, thirty plants produced 9.4 million metric tonnes of ammonia (NH3), principally based on the Haber-Bosch reaction processes. The principal feedstock to these plants is natural gas, which is reformed with steam to produce a target stoichiometric gas mixture of CO2, N2, and H2. Sorbents are used to remove CO2 and other contaminants prior to synthesizing NH3. Ammonia is used to produce a wide variety of fertilizers, nitric acid, fuels, and amine-based chemicals used broadly in industrial agriculture.
The above opportunities are examples of how IMSR can benefit the large and growing ammonia industry. Hydrogen that can be produced by high temperature steam electrolysis (HTSE) can replace the fossil-fuel intensive steam methane reforming technique. This would eliminate CO2 emissions associated with hydrogen production today.
Clean Steel Production
Hydrogen-based high performance steel making could be cost-competitive with traditional steel production when coupled to an IMSR hybrid energy H2 production system. This could also reduce total CO2 emissions from steel production by 80 percent
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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