Operating permit issued for Chinese molten salt reactor

15 June 2023

The Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has been granted an operating licence for the experimental TMSR-LF1 thorium-powered molten-salt reactor, construction of which started in Wuwei city, Gansu province, in September 2018.

A cutaway of the TMSR-LF1 reactor (Image: SINAP)

"The thorium-fueled molten salt experimental reactor operation application and related technical documents were reviewed, and it was considered that the application met the relevant safety requirements, and it was decided to issue the 2 MWt liquid fuel thorium-based molten salt experimental reactor an operating licence," the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said in a 7 June statement.

The NNSA noted that, when operating TMSR-LF1, SINAP "should adhere to the principle of 'safety first', abide by the regulations of the operating licence and permit conditions, and ensure the safe operation" of the reactor.

Construction of the TMSR-LF1 reactor began in September 2018 and was scheduled to be completed in 2024. However, it was reportedly completed in August 2021 after work was accelerated.

In August last year, SINAP was given approval by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment to commission the reactor.

The TMSR-LF1 will use fuel enriched to under 20% U-235, have a thorium inventory of about 50 kg and conversion ratio of about 0.1. A fertile blanket of lithium-beryllium fluoride (FLiBe) with 99.95% Li-7 will be used, and fuel as UF4.

If the TMSR-LF1 proves successful, China plans to build a reactor with a capacity of 373 MWt by 2030.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News