The Canadian company Terrestrial Energy Inc. has announced that it has entered into an initial collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Oak Ridge, TN, USA. This includes work that is part of Terrestrial Energy's program to advance its Integral Molten Salt Reactor to the engineering blueprint stage, expected in late 2016.
Private sector engagement will be necessary to commercialize MSR technology, and ORNL is encouraged by Terrestrial Energy's plans and commitment in the development of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor.
ORNL involvement in Terrestrial Energy's work on its IMSR design is most fitting as it was ORNL that built and demonstrated the first molten salt reactor. ORNL is the site of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE), where a 7.4 MWth test reactor operated successfully from 1965 to 1969. Terrestrial Energy's basic concept builds upon the MSRE operational data generated and then further builds upon ORNL's Denatured Molten Salt Reactor (DMSR) design, which is the basis of Terrestrial Energy's IMSR. Today, ORNL remains at the forefront of research in advanced nuclear technologies. Former ORNL scientists have been appointed to the Terrestrial's International Advisory Board, including Mr. John Richard Engel, who played a central role in ORNL's MSRE work, and Dr. David Hill, former divisional director of ORNL; Dr. Hill is a member of the Terrestrial’s board of directors. ORNL has multiple nuclear and non-nuclear competencies that will be relevant to Terrestrial’s R&D activities in follow-on collaborations planned in the future.
Dr. David Holcomb of ORNL, the US representative on behalf of the US Department of Energy to the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) technical steering committee on MSRs, made these comments: "Private sector engagement will be necessary to commercialize MSR technology, and ORNL is encouraged by Terrestrial Energy's plans and commitment in the development of its Integral Molten Salt Reactor."
TEI's CEO Simon Irish claims in an enthusiastic Forbes article that the reactor "will cost about the same to build as a coal power plant, but will cost much less to run than a traditional nuclear plant."