Thorcon Thorium Energy Converter Designs and Argonne National Lab Materials Analysis

ThorCon is a molten salt fission reactor. Unlike all current nuclear reactors, the fuel is in liquid form. It can be moved around with a pump and passively drained. This 500 MW fission power plant is encapsulated in a hull, built in a shipyard, towed to a shallow water site, ballasted to the seabed. ThorCon is a straightforward scale-up of the successful United States Oak Ridge National Laboratory Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE).

The complete ThorCon is manufactured in 150 to 500 ton blocks in a shipyard, assembled, then towed to the site. This produces order of magnitude improvements in productivity, quality control, and build time. A single large reactor yard can turn out twenty gigawatts of ThorCon power plants per year. ThorCon is a system for building power plants.

ThorCon has been working with the Indonesian government to add reliable electric power to the grid. In 2019 the Ministry of Energy began a study of the safety, economics, and grid impact of the 500 MW prototype ThorConIsle.

ThorCon is working with Argonne National Labs on material tests. They are moving to develop a non-fissile test plant to validate all aspects of the plant before progressing to a first of kind fissile reactor.

They are validating the seismic safety with simulations. They are validating the safety of shipping the reactor against the worst oceanic storms.

They target making the energy cheaper than coal from the reactor.

Indonesia had a target price for their energy and their analysis is that ThorCon will have lower cost than their target.

The final Indonesia recommendation report for the President of Indonesia is still being finalized.

Phase 1 is to build and test it with step by step commissioning, ending in a type license for future power plants.
Phase 2 is the shipyard production of ThorCon plants to provide an additional 3 GW of cheap, reliable electric power.

Dane Wilson recently retired from Oak Ridge National Laboratory. At ORNL, Dane worked on materials and systems for use in molten fluoride salts, high-temperature gaseous environments, and other pernicious working fluids of interest to energy and hydrogen production. Dane has a BSc in physics (solid-state), MS in material science and engineering and PhD in metallurgy (corrosion and surface science).

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