Berkeley adds some salt to its research
The Daily Californian has published an article called "Molten Salt Adds Flavour to Nuclear Research" in which Cristhian Galvez talks about some of their ongoing molten-salt research.
The Berkeley laboratory is headed by Per Peterson who, as we have reported before, is on Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission for US Nuclear 'back end'. Per is together with Charles W. Forsberg (MIT) author of "An Advanced Molten Salt Reactor Using High-Temperature Reactor Technology". Charles is the author of "Molten-Salt-Reactor Technology Gaps" in which a detailed technology gap study is summarized. These two papers give a good overview of the technology and its properties.
In the early 1970s a design of a 1GW Molten-Salt Reactor (MSR) had been developed based on tests conducted at ORNL. Through this work a good understanding of its strengths and weaknesses had been developed. But, due to reasons nobody seems to agree upon, it was abandoned for several decades.
Now, due to technological developments that have taken place since the 1970s, the MSR has renewed interest.
Among the most important developments are the Brayton power cycle, compact heat exchangers and carbon-carbon composites. These improve the commercial viability of the MSR drastically.
If a Molten-salt reactor would be commercialised, Galvez is sure going to be right when he said: "But unlike other fields of research, developments in nuclear engineering occur very slowly". However true that is, we are still looking forward to a molten salt reactor running on thorium some 50 years after it was invented.
Molten-Salt-Reactor Technology Gaps, ORNL.gov
Molten Salt Adds Flavour to Nuclear Research, The Daily Californian