Copenhagen Atomics Progress to Mass Manufacturing Thorium Reactors and First Reactor in 2028

Copenhagen Atomics has raised over 25 million euros and has developed full scale reactor hardware for molten salt thorium nuclear reactors. Almost a decade ago Copenhagen Atomics was founded based on a dream dream of a world powered by scaleable and green energy more affordable than coal; a thorium molten salt breeder reactor. They are now building full-scale prototype reactor test platforms, producing ton-scale highly purified salt and much more.

Copenhagen Atomics is developing a thorium based molten salt reactor with the same footprint as a 40 foot shipping container, which delivers 100 MW thermal energy per unit and is expected to reach an electricity price (LCoE) below $20/MWh in a mass manufacturing scenario.

The Waste Burner is expected to be online in 2028, and will run on a combination of thorium and used nuclear fuel reducing the storage period of the existing nuclear waste from 100,000 to 300 years. The 100 MWth thorium based MSR Waste Burner will deliver abundant energy in a cheaper, safer and cleaner manner.

They are in the process of building a non-fission prototype for the 1 MWth demo reactor, which will validate the reactor design using a non-nuclear fuel salt. They expect to have an operational 1 MWth demo reactor ready by 2025.

After 2028, they will have an assembly line mass construction of shipping container sized waste burner molten salt reactors.

The US made and operated the first molten salt thermal reactor (about 2Wth) back in the 1960s at Oak Ridge. China recently built a small demo molten salt reactor as well. Molten Salt nuclear technology has been built. Molten Salt nuclear fission needs to be made and operated at scale with good economics. It should have good economics.

Today, electricity only accounts for approx. 20% of the world’s combined energy consumption, whereas energy for industrial use, fuel for cars, ships, planes and heating your home make up for the remaining 80%.

That is a lot of energy that needs to be transitioned to green energy, which in many cases cannot be done by renewable energy.

In the few places where diesel is being phased out, ammonia will become an ever-increasing part of fuel consumption as this can be used for the mining, transportation, and shipping industries, to name a few.

Green ammonia can therefore be used for some of the hard-to-abate industries.

This project combines the knowledge of the old industry-leading companies Topsoe, Alfa Laval, Aalborg CSP, Pupuk Kaltim and Pertamina New & Renewable Energy and our molten salt reactor technology.

23 thoughts on “Copenhagen Atomics Progress to Mass Manufacturing Thorium Reactors and First Reactor in 2028”

  1. There are a number of significant basic technical and economic hurdles facing the proposed reactor. Practical engineering considerations do not particularly favor the claims being made.

    Moving heavy water through a molten salt reactor is inherently risky from a technical and reactor safety standpoint. Water and molten salts do poorly when mixed. Throw in a nuclear reactor and the whole device is really unsettling.

    Unclear the extent of reprocessing of spent fuel. However, such processes make a huge radioactive mess that is more or less equivalent to the initial spent fuel.

    Using molten salt at the envisioned temperatures is very difficult for materials to handle, particularly when considering the presence of a reactor.

    Having to deal with salt that turns into a rock at modest temperatures creates major problems for operations and maintenance.

    Economics normally favors bigger, simpler, and more efficient. The proposed reactor technology appears to be going in the opposite direction.

    The unquantifiable financial burden associated with nuclear is a huge risk to profitability. Unclear how that risk can be accommodated by small assets that by definition can only produce small profits.

    Seems to me that the whole enterprise has whiffs of the vaporware from the early days of computers. A large number of claimed products are being touted as possible, but practical reality casts significant doubt on such claims.

    In passing, the claims of the wonders of ammonia need to be tempered with a strong dose of reality. Anhydrous ammonia is readily lethal if it leaks out of tanks and pipes into the atmosphere. Not the sort of thing the general population should be routinely using.

    • Agreed, but obviously the moderator channels would be air-gapped by a double wall eliminating conduction of heat into the moderator…. unless they aren’t doing that and it’s more stupider than we imagined. I’m not about to watch a thirty minute youtube video to try to decipher the details of their hobby. Maybe they are looking for constructive criticism? Of course not! They’ve got their PhD’s and have worked with high pressure steam (they were baristas/baristoys).

  2. how much shielding will be required around the 40′ shipping container and the spill tray it must stand on, please?

    • Look man, it doesn’t matter if their system is built around an array of flawless 30ct blue diamonds because it is an internet meme reactor. To answer the question though, the use of D2O in a channelized MSR was a devils advocate foil I used to confound MSR fans years ago. By being a better moderator than graphite, the heavy water makes the system smaller. Light water would make it even smaller, but eat some neutrons, and apparently their margins on what they want to achieve in the cartoon fuel cycle (isobreed – conversion factor =1?) aren’t working without the exotic moderator.

      I understand many people lack the perspective to discern what might be a legitimate effort vs. a handful of Danes in a garage with literally no chance. These guys live in a small, very antinuclear, windmill-powered, bicycle to work country that has not one functioning test reactor. Whatever government agency Denmark has with any relevant knowledge likely concerns itself with medical use of radiation and puts stamps on dentist’s xray machines after collecting tax.

      The blogosphere is full of nuclear startup hype. There is a segment of the population (tech bros) that gets a dopamine high when reading about the prospect of unregulated 100,000 horsepower MSRs in shipping containers within marked school zones, next to grocery stores, etc., usually with flashy architecture (unlike existing industry) and landscaping (my site is crushed rock, concrete barriers and blast resistant barbed wire fencing with infrared cameras).

      In the real world, westinghouse takes the millions of dollars given to it by the DOE to design a micro-reactor, which it would never propose itself, being driven by market forces.
      Westinghouse puts 50 effective full power men on the eVinci task in 2022/23 and quickly finds that it beams neutrons out along the heat pipes making the configuration woefully UNSAT for practical use. The physics would apply to all the proposed designs including Oklo. Just last week, Oklo was in the news…. an air force base in Alaska ‘selecting’ Oklo for deployment in 2027, while acknowledging it would need to be licensed by the regulator that already rejected Oklo’s cartoon application. The stream of mis information is constant you can’t make it up.

  3. 100MWth in a shipping container sounds high for a fully protected regulated reactor.

    If they can do it, gas companies are toast. District heating would be much more attractive.

  4. Back of the envelop calculations for the number of nukes needed to negate global warming:

    Amount of CO2 sent into the atmosphere by human activities = 32,000,000,000 tons per year
    Fraction retained in the atmosphere (not absorbed by existing carbon sinks) = 43%
    Annual accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere = 13,760,000,000 tons / year

    Life cycle CO2 emissions from coal power plants = 820 g of CO2 / kWh
    Life cycle CO2 emissions from nuclear power plants = 12 g of CO2 / kWh
    Life cycle CO2 reduction using nuclear power plants = 808 g of CO2 / kWh = 1.75 lbs of CO2 / kWh

    Amount of energy to be replaced to eliminate CO2 accumulation = 15,725,714,285,714 kWh per year
    = 15,725,714,286 MWh per year
    = 15,725,714 GWh per year

    Power output of large nuclear power plant (example Palo Verde, 3 each 1.338 GW reactors, After a power uprate, each reactor is now able to produce 1.4 GW of electric power. The usual power production capacity is about 70 to 95 percent of this.)
    = approximately 4 GW
    = 35,000 GWh per year

    Number of large nuclear plants required to replace coal plants emitting excess CO2 = 450 each 4 GW nuclear facilities (with multiple reactors)

    Capital cost of nuclear power plant (again using Palo Verde, this power plant became fully operational by 1988, and it took twelve years to build and cost about 5.9 billion dollars) = $5,900,000,000
    = conservatively double the cost to to $12 billion in today’s dollars

    Cost of the 450 equivalent 4 GW facilities needed to replace CO2 emissions = 450 x $12 billion
    = $5.4 trillion

    World GDP (2016) = $75.4 trillion

    Summary: There are currently 467 operational nuclear power plants worldwide. We can eliminate all excess CO2 emissions not absorbed by natural carbon sinks by adding another 450 each 4 GW plants. The cost would be about 7% of world GDP.

    Annual percent of world GDP spent on the military is about 2%.

    So we solve global warming by roughly doubling the number of nuclear plants worldwide. We simply cannot prevent global warming without lots of nukes. Safe, clean nukes

    Other efforts (solar and wind, afforestation, carbon capture, fertilizing the oceans with irons sulfate, etc.) can help but they are not nearly as cost effective as expanding nuclear energy.

    Nukes can also use off-peak KWh to electrolysize water to create enough hydrogen (without fossil fuel reformatting) to create a hydrogen fuel cell economy that avoids the chief problem with batteries as energy storage. Even the best rechargeable battery wears out over time and will no longer take a charge. Disposing of these batteries will be a major toxic waste disposal problem. So will the disposal of PVCs, which also wear out (current warranties for solar roof top arrays are 10 to 20 years).

    • Do we live in the same universe? The VAAAAASSSSTTT majority of people that believe we must stop emitting CO2, strenuously object to the expansion, if not use of existing of nuclear power. We’ve all watched Germany shut down their nuclear reactors that are younger than most of the stations in USA. Nobody is naïve enough to think we’re going to build 1800 1.4 GWe nuke plants…
      There certainly are environmental disasters underway. Somehow, global warming became the rallying cry of mass hysteria today AFTER some large fraction of the species on the planet went extinct and the waterways were poisoned with farm/industrial effluent, fished out, turned into toilets from the Ganges, to the Gulf of Mexico to the Philippines, etc. Like all of paradise was turned into a parking lot, and now the privileged children of subsequent generations have woke up and want to ban stoves and air conditioning? You need to stop drinking the cool aid!
      What is practical? What would be good start? Building 50 ABWR/AP1000 over the next decade would be a great start. We don’t need to get all hysterical with youthful extremism. There is a long life ahead of you; you’ll get the reins by the time you’ve mellowed out.

      • Many people can and are wrong on many topics. Nuclear reactor economics can be improved and become a significant part of world energy. People were assuming that world energy demand would stay relatively static and perhaps just add in the developing world at per capita income levels of western Europe over a few decades for Asia. This would mean double to triple world energy. This could happen along with a 10X from AI, AI data centers and humanoid robotics and electric cars and trucks. People were thinking the space industry would go at the pace of the Space Shuttle for decades and then SpaceX came along and is breaking that paradigm. Historical priors and future forecasts can end up wrong.

        • Germany’s shut down of nuclear plants under pressure from the Green Party has been a disaster for Germany carbon emissions and power economics. It’s a poster child for why the anti-nuclear movement is among the biggest problems in rationally dealing with climate change.

      • The vast majority of people do not like CO2 and yet coal plants are still built and operated in large numbers, natural gas is still increased and oil is still increased. If things are economic and there is demand then it gets built.

        Is the purpose of the anti-CO2 industry to actually reduce CO2 from the economy or generate funds and grants for projects that talk about it or do ineffective things. What has over a trillion dollars for anti-CO2 and climate change gone towards and done?

        Or do they penalize the oil and gas and coal industry which are still very profitable and then redistribute fines and taxes and capture part of those funds for whatever they want to do.

        There are some reports that Greta Thunberg is worth $18M. $10M from inheritance.

        In 2022, the global climate tech sector attracted $70.1 billion in venture capital funding. This was an 89% increase from 2021. The investments were spread across more than 3,300 deals. The highest investments were in energy storage and mobility, at $18.4 and $11.44 billion, respectively.
        Since 2018, climate tech has raised $260 billion in aggregate funds. In 2022, climate and clean tech startups raised $54 billion.

      • we dont live in the same universe. there are many people that are uneducated to the positives of nuclear fission energy. Germany has its head buried up it toosh. China is going full steam ahead with thorium reactors. so are many parts of Asia. the dangers of existing systems and previous accidents came from poor design. so I would say to you, wake up, I dont want a world filled with huge wind turbines that create waste that cannot be recycled. we do not need hydrogen, too many production and storage issues. battery chemistry and production continues to improve. solid state will be in mass production soon. so we need localized power generation that produces manageable waste = thorium reactors.

      • “Nobody is naïve enough to think we’re going to build 1800 1.4 GWe nuke plants”

        Normally I’d agree with you but the Russo-Ukraine war has pushed many countries in Europe to start building nuclear. We won’t do that in the US because the dirty secret of US wind and solar is that they can be backed up by cheap, reliable, clean natural gas.

        There’s only three reactors that matter in the real world: AP1000, APR1400 and maybe in a few years Nuscale.

        • There is some talk of building reactors in Poland, France, Sweden, Saudi, etc. Most builds underway outside of China are a demonstration of Russian soft power with customers of poor credit.

          I’ll die super rich if we start building 50 units (let alone 1800) anywhere – nobody wants it more than me – few would be more useful than me in that scenario.


          But, alas…. it’s all talk. Just like the rich liberal elite buying castles at sea level (obama) don’t believe in global warming deep down in their frog brain cerebellum.

      • Plants become economical when you have 50 under construction like liberty ships.

        FWIW, I know many of your readers could Google an estimate of global power demand, then divide by 1.4GWe/ea. and obfuscate the final answer as ‘450 [4-pack] stations’.

        Have the leadership demonstrate they can clean up the water or reverse desertification or restore fish stocks before you sign away your 1st world standard of living for the CO2 god. People like simple mottos. CO2 is such a concept.

        • I do not think any energy tech should be built based only on lower CO2. I think there is cost per kWh and negative CO2 from biological processes.
          Eliminating CO2 by reducing the tons per GWh is bad because the best tech with lower CO2 for energy is $100 per ton of CO2. Sequestering with biological processes like a tree is pennies per ton of CO2. So there is cheap and abundant energy and there is CO2 removal. Removing 1 trillion tons of CO2 can be done for under a $1 trillion. Make 100,000 TWh per year of electrical energy should be optimized for low cost energy generation. This should not be one thing that does both. Because that is far, far from optimal. Just like we can generate all of our food with agriculture with 1% of the workforce. We should not be buying an energy reactor that can also generate food. It would be a silly constraint that messes up energy generation and food production.

          • The most offensive climate change remedies are the calls to sequester of CO2 using non-biological means… Taxation is indistinguishable from theft when spent on such fraudulent concepts. Let’s see the government fix any simple thing before we give them more power to make energy more expensive. Redditor climate keyboard warriors need to sober up about climate science. Take a trip to the developing world and see how things are outside of California. For every first world keyboard warrior wanting to change the world through policy and taxation, there are 50 people in different corners of the world that would ride on the outside of a C-17 to exchange their miserable mud brick reality for yours. Those people slash and burn the forests to make charcoal to cook bushmeat.

            What we need is some perspective, and willingness to improve our society incrementally. We don’t need extreme puritanical rejection of our existing way of life.

          • You acknowledge that the CO2 is/should/could be captured in wood for the minimal cost. We are therefore aligned, although I don’t understand how husbandry of fallow land would cost $1T or who’s money that would be.

  5. I wonder how long they can keep that 600 deg-C hypo-stochiometric fluoride slop circulating in that stainless steel plumbing before it spills out on their basement floor. The first 30 seconds of the Youtube videos lead me to believe they are tip-top with the bench-top TIG welding and barely overhead shop crane. We need more of these hygge little shops instead of a consolidated effort across the national labs of north america, europe and asia with the support of industrial giants.

    Anyway, the MCRE at INL seems to be moving ahead.

    • So how many reactors have the national labs built recently? They’re just a different flavor of non-show. Too much money and too much bureaucracy and too much politics. The startups are sort of the opposite – little politics and bureaucracy, but not enough money.

      As for stainless steel, that was tested with fuel fluoride salts and it has nil corrosion with the right redox control (ie slightly reducing chemistry) and sufficient purity control (which is required for any reactor anyways – LWRs in particular are VERY sensitive to impurities).

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