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Back to Basics Stephen B. Libby Key Words: atomic physics, Edward Teller, hydrogen molecular ion, Jahn—Teller theorem, molecular physics, polymolecules, Thomas—Fermi approximation, quantum mechanics. September Featured Articles. This benefit would come with the added expense of a larger fissile inventory or a 2-fluid design with a large quantity of blanket salt. The necessary fuel salt reprocessing technology has been demonstrated, but only at laboratory scale.

Molten Salt Reactor Fundamentals

MSRs operate at low although above ambient pressure. In the event of a malfunction, this means that the risks of an explosion are low.


Most MSR designs employ passive cooling systems. This means that pumping is not required, removing pump failure risks. If temperature grows too high, the temperature melts a plug that otherwise keeps the molten salt inside the reactor allowing it to drain into an area that disperses the fuel and quenches fission. Reactor activity is negatively related to temperature. If the reactor gets too hot, fission slows, allowing temperature to cool. MSRs can be designed to produce a much smaller volume of much shorter-lived waste products, reducing problems associated with waste disposal and proliferation.

MSRs can be designed to burn convert to energy spent nuclear fuel and weapons-related materials and not produce nuclear materials with proliferation risks. MSRs can be sited underground such that in the event of a failure or at end-of-life, the operator can safely walk away from the unit. Reprocessing refers to the chemical separation of fissionable uranium and plutonium from spent fuel.

In the United States the regulatory regime has varied dramatically across administrations. In the Molten Salt Breeder Reactor proposal, uranium reprocessing was scheduled every ten days as part of reactor operation. This design is referred to as denatured molten salt reactor.

Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet

MSRs, especially those with the fuel dissolved in the salt differ considerably from conventional reactors. Reactor core pressure can be low and the temperature much higher. In this respect an MSR is more similar to a liquid metal cooled reactor than to a conventional light water cooled reactor. MSRs are often planned as breeding reactors with a closed fuel cycle—as opposed to the once-through fuel currently used in U. Safety concepts rely on a negative temperature coefficient of reactivity and a large possible temperature rise to limit reactivity excursions.

As an additional method for shutdown, a separate, passively cooled container below the reactor can be included. In case of problems and for regular maintenance the fuel is drained from the reactor. This stops the nuclear reaction and acts as a second cooling system. Neutron-producing accelerators have been proposed for some super-safe subcritical experimental designs. Cost estimates from the s were slightly lower than for conventional light-water reactors. The temperatures of some proposed designs are high enough to produce process heat for hydrogen production or other chemical reactions.

MSRs offer many potential advantages over current light water reactors: [4].

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Damage tolerance of nuclear graphite at elevated temperatures

August Learn how and when to remove this template message. The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. You may improve this article , discuss the issue on the talk page , or create a new article , as appropriate. Main article: Aircraft Reactor Experiment. Main article: Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment. Thorium is not for tomorrow but unless you do any development, it will not get there.

Main article: Very high temperature reactor. Main article: Liquid fluoride thorium reactor. This section does not cite any sources. Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources. September Learn how and when to remove this template message.

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Nuclear technology portal Energy portal Physics portal. Aqueous homogeneous reactor Generation IV reactor Integral fast reactor Liquid fluoride thorium reactor Liquid metal cooled reactor Nuclear aircraft Nuclear power Nuclear waste Thorium fuel cycle. World Nuclear Association. Oak Ridge National Lab. Nuclear Science and Engineering. Retrieved 12 November The Technology pork barrel.

Brookings Institution. Retrieved 28 February The Alvin Weinberg Foundation. Archived from the original on 5 March Retrieved 13 June Advanced Reactors with Innovative Fuels. Retrieved 15 July Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Retrieved 10 November The Guardian. Weinberg Next Nuclear. Retrieved 9 June South China Morning Post.

Retrieved 4 May World Nuclear News. Archived from the original on 13 April Progress in Nuclear Energy.