Terrestrial Energy joins Generation IV Forum

14 May 2019

Terrestrial Energy, a developer of advanced nuclear power plants using Integrated Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) technology, has been admitted to the Generation IV International Forum (GIF). It is currently the only private sector company to hold this status.

GIF is a multinational programme established in 2001 to carry out research and development needed to establish the feasibility and performance capabilities of next-generation nuclear energy systems. It has 14 member countries which are signatories of its founding document, the GIF Charter. Its steering committees implement research and development in six "system arrangements": gas-cooled fast reactors; lead-cooled fast reactors; molten salt reactors; supercritical water-cooled reactors; sodium-cooled fast reactors; and very high temperature reactors.

Ontario, Canada-based Terrestrial Energy has now become a signatory of the forum's Memorandum of Understanding for Collaboration on the Molten Salt Reactor System. This follows two years during which the company has had observer status at GIF molten salt reactor meetings. According to information from GIF, the other signatories of the memorandum are Australian nuclear research organisation ANSTO, which signed it in 2017, Euratom's Joint Research Centre (2010), France's CEA (2010), Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom (2013), the Paul Scherrer Institut of Switzerland (2015), and the US Department of Energy (2017).

"Growing commercial interest in MSR development in member states has led to a recent expansion in the activities of the GIF Molten Salt Reactor Working Group," Terrestrial Energy 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 Energy's IMSR is designed as a modular reactor for factory fabrication, and could be used for electricity production and industrial process heat generation for uses such as use in many industrial applications, such as chemical synthesis and desalination. The design integrates the primary reactor components to a secondary clean salt circuit, in a sealed and replaceable core vessel.

The company plans to commission the first IMSR power plants in the late 2020s. The reactor is currently in the second phase of a pre-licensing vendor design review by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, having been the first advanced reactor design to complete the first phase.

David LeBlanc, Terrestrial Energy's president and chief technology officer, said technical collaboration through interactions with the GIF were "invaluable" to realise the global potential for the company's MSR technology. "The GIF recognises that with nuclear innovation, we can meet the urgent global market need for clean, affordable and cost-competitive energy," he said.

Canada’s involvement in GIF is administered by government ministry Natural Resources Canada (NRCan). NRCan Deputy Director of Nuclear Science and Technology Daniel Brady said ministry supported Terrestrial Energy's admission to the forum. "Members of GIF share resources, expertise and facilities to undertake the R&D necessary to advance Generation IV nuclear technologies. These are revolutionary nuclear technologies that are expected to be commercially transformative - more affordable, more cost-competitive and more versatile than current technologies," he said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News