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Integrated effects test being carried out at TerraPower lab in US

The hot salt pumping experiment is expected to further the development of TerraPower’s demonstrator molten chloride fast reactor technology. Courtesy Southern Company.

US-based nuclear technology companies Southern Nuclear and TerraPower and UK-based Core Power have begun a hot salt pumping experiment which is expected to further the development of TerraPower’s demonstrator molten chloride fast reactor (MCFR) technology.

Southern Nuclear’s parent company Southern Company said in a statement that pumped-salt operations have started for the integrated effects test (IET) experiment at a TerraPower laboratory in Everett, Washington state, dedicated to the development of its Generation-IV molten salt reactor project.

The statement said chloride salt has been loaded into the primary coolant salt loops at the facility, kicking off a multi-month test campaign expected to provide valuable salt operations data for the MCFR programme.

Southern Company and TerraPower have been cooperating on the IET, a non-nuclear, externally heated, up to 1-MW multiloop system, construction of which was completed in late 2022.

Since construction was completed the IET has undergone mechanical, electrical and controls verification. Commissioning included the application of hot argon and chloride salts to confirm readiness by filling and flushing drain tanks and ensuring the operability of freeze valves.

TerraPower has said the IET is to help learn how the MCFR technology will scale and behave at larger, commercial sizes. The experiment is the world's largest chloride salt system developed by the nuclear sector.

The company has said MCFR technology operates at higher temperatures than conventional reactors, generating electricity more efficiently and without emissions.

According to Southern Company, the IET will support the design, licensing and operation of an approximately 180-MW MCFR demonstration planned for the early 2030s.

TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates, has been developing advanced nuclear power projects, including the MCFR, a travelling wave reactor, and the Natrium sodium-based nuclear reactor technology.

Core Power was set up in 2018 with the aim to build and commercialise sea-based reactor plants for power generation and maritime propulsion uses.

Date: Wednesday, 11 October 2023
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