Terrestrial Energy engages with regulator

25 February 2016

Terrestrial Energy is submitting its Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) design to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) for pre-licensing review, the Canadian company announced today. The submission marks a first step towards an eventual licence application.

The CNSC offers a pre-licensing vendor design review as an optional service to provide an assessment of a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor's reactor technology. It is not a required part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant, but aims to verify the acceptability of a nuclear power plant design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations.

The review involves three phases: a pre-licensing assessment of compliance with regulatory requirements; an assessment of any potential fundamental barriers to licensing; and a follow-up phase allowing the vendor to respond to findings from the second phase. These findings will be taken into account in any subsequent construction licence application, increasing the efficiency of technical reviews, according to the CNSC.

Terrestrial Energy CEO Simon Irish said the announcement marked the company's move from reactor research and design to engineering and regulatory compliance. "This new chapter takes the company towards the submission of a formal licence application to build and operate the first commercial demonstration Integral Molten Salt Reactor plant in the 2020s," he said.

Molten salt reactors use fuel dissolved in a molten fluoride or chloride salt which functions as both the fuel (producing the heat) and the coolant (transporting the heat away and ultimately to the power plant). This means that such a reactor could not suffer from a loss of coolant leading to a meltdown. A molten salt test reactor operated at the USA's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the 1960s. Terrestrial Energy in January 2015 announced a collaboration with ORNL to develop its IMSR design to the engineering blueprint stage.

Earlier this year Irish told World Nuclear News that the conceptual design stage of Terrestrial Energy's IMSR is expected to be completed in 2017. It intends to have its first nuclear power plant commissioned at a site in Canada in the 2020s.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News