Moltex, a UK- and Canada-based start-up developing stable molten salt reactor technologies, reported that it has already passed its initial £4-million (US$5.05 million) target for a crowd-funding raise. The raise is now up above £4.2 million (US$5.3 million) and rising, and is boosted by a £2.5-million (US$3.16 million) corporate investment from Nuclear Energy Consultancy firm, IDOM.
Moltex said that it will over-fund this current round to some extent though it is likely to close soon. The company believes that further developments, including the potential award of government grants in the UK and more licensing progress in Canada, will support a higher valuation in a future funding round.
Molten salt reactors (MSRs). Molten salt reactors use molten fluoride or chloride salts as a coolant. The coolant can flow over solid fuel like other reactors or fissile materials can be dissolved directly into the primary coolant so that the fission directly heats the salt.
MSRs are designed to use less fuel and produce shorter-lived radioactive waste than other reactor types. They have the potential to advance the safety posture and economics of nuclear energy production by processing fuel online, removing waste products and adding fresh fuel without lengthy refueling outages.
Section through Moltex SSR module
Moltex. Moltex’ Stable Salt Reactors build on the fundamental safety and simplicity of molten salt fuel in what are essentially standard nuclear fuel tubes.
The fuel salt is held in vented tubes. Moltex says that venting is safe because in its reactors the dangerous fission products form stable compounds, not gases.
The tubes are bundled into fuel assemblies similar to those in a conventional pressurized water reactor (PWR). These are held in the support structure which forms the reactor modules.
The tank is filled with a safe molten salt coolant, which is not pressurized as in gas or water coolants in today’s power reactors and not violently reactive with air and water as is sodium in today’s Fast Breeder reactors. A second similar coolant salt system takes heat from the primary coolant salt to a patented GridReserve energy storage system.
GridReserve is a collection of molten salt storage tanks that stores gigawatt scale thermal energy when it’s not needed for electricity production. When demand goes up, the plant can take heat from the reactor and storage tanks to produce electricity. This is similar to a Concentrated Solar Power plant and uses the same solar salt, turning a 1GW reactor into a 3GW peaking plant.
Fuel assemblies are simply moved sideways out of the core and replaced with fresh fuel assemblies. This results in a near on-line refueling process.
The entire construction is simple, with no high pressure systems, few moving parts, and no Pressure Vessel needing specialist foundries.
The reactor is continuously cooled by natural air flow, giving complete security against overheating in an accident situation.