Terrestrial Energy's molten salt reactor passes Canadian vendor design review

20 April 2023

Terrestrial Energy's Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) has completed Phase 2 of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) vendor design review (VDR). CNSC found no fundamental barriers to licensing the small modular reactor design. The VDR is not a required part of the licensing process and is an optional service provided by the CNSC. It offers an assessment of a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor's reactor technology.

“It is the first technology review completed by a major regulator of a nuclear plant design that uses a Generation IV reactor technology to supply heat at high temperature, and the first time for molten salt reactor technology,” said Terrestrial Energy CEO Simon Irish. “This review is a major step to bring molten salt technology to commercial markets and IMSR plants to large industrial companies seeking practicable high-impact solutions to decarbonize industrial production.”

The VDR involved a comprehensive review of the IMSR nuclear power plant covering 19 “focus areas” defined by CNSC and required Terrestrial Energy to prepare hundreds of technical submissions. Its scope included a systematic review of engineering management processes, confirmatory testing programme for IMSR components and systems, reactor controls and safety systems, defence-in-depth strategy, safety analysis, and the requirements for safeguards, security, fire protection and radiation protection. Following an extensive multi-year review, CNSC staff concluded that there are no fundamental barriers to licensing the IMSR plant.

Terrestrial said the IMSR plant supplies high-quality heat (585 degrees C), which water-cooled reactor technology cannot. This increases the efficiency of electric power generation by nearly 50 percent and expands the use of nuclear energy to zero-carbon industrial cogeneration (heat and power) for the first time.

The IMSR plant is designed to use standard assay Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) civilian nuclear fuel, enriched to less than 5 percent, thereby avoiding the need for High Assay LEU (HALEU) fuel. This assures a stable supply of fuel essential for a fleet of IMSR plants operating in the 2030s and increases the IMSR’s international regulatory acceptance. Terrestrial Energy is advancing its fuel supply programme with Springfields Fuel (Westinghouse) in the UK and Orano in France.

Image: Artist's impression of an IMSR plant (courtesy of Terrestrial Energy)

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