IMSR materials to be tested at Petten

07 February 2019

NRG is to carry out testing of materials, including graphite, for key components of Terrestrial Energy's Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) power plant in the High-Flux Reactor at Petten in the Netherlands under a contract announced on 5 February.

A rendering of the IMSR core unit (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

The agreement will see NRG provide expert technical services to support Terrestrial Energy’s "in-core" materials testing and the development of its generation IV plant. NRG's services include technical advice on test design and preparation, high-flux irradiation of test specimens, and in-process and post-irradiation examinations and evaluations of the test materials.

"NRG has decades of experience with the controlled irradiation and examination of fuel and materials for innovative Generation-IV reactors," NRG CEO Huub Cuijpers said. "Innovative Generation-IV reactors have truly transformative potential and Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR molten salt reactor is a promising design."

Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy, described NRG's testing capability at Petten as world-class. "With the benefit of the high-flux facility and NRG's clear expertise, we anticipate time-efficient materials testing and qualification that will advance IMSR engineering and regulatory activities," he said.

Molten salt reactors use fuel dissolved in a molten fluoride or chloride salt which functions as both the reactor's fuel and its coolant. This means that such a reactor could not suffer from a loss of coolant leading to a meltdown. Terrestrial's IMSR integrates the primary reactor components, including primary heat exchangers, to a secondary clean salt circuit, in a sealed and replaceable core vessel. It is designed as a modular reactor for factory fabrication, and could be used for electricity production and industrial process heat generation.

Terrestrial Energy in 2017 completed the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's pre-licensing vendor review of the IMSR, and the company is planning to submit either an application for design certification or for a construction permit for the IMSR-400 by late 2019 to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The company and Canadian Nuclear Laboratories are considering the feasibility of siting a commercial plant at Chalk River.

The company has also signed collaborative agreements to advance the design with US Oak Ridge National Laboratory and with the Dalton Nuclear Institute in the UK, and in 2017 entered into a contract with the University of New Brunswick for validation and verification work for the IMSR. It has applied for a US loan guarantee of up to USD1200 million to support financing of a project to licence, construct and commission the first US IMSR, a 190 MWe commercial facility. An agreement was signed with Energy Northwest in March 2018 for the first US IMSR to be built at a site on the Idaho National Laboratory.

In March 2018, Terrestrial Energy signed a technical services agreement with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Karlsruhe, Germany. Under that contract, JRC will perform confirmatory studies of the fuel and primary coolant salt mixture for the IMSR.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News