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Leading the Way

Terrestrial Energy is a clear leader among advanced reactor developers, its IMSR® design having many distinct advantages

Terrestrial Energy is on track to commission with its first utility customers the first commercial IMSR® power plants in the late 2020s.

In early 2016, Terrestrial Energy commenced the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s Vendor Design Review process and successfully completed Phase 1 of that process in November 2017, an industry first for an advanced nuclear power plant. In October 2018, Terrestrial Energy commenced Phase 2 and expects to complete the CNSC’s Vendor Design Review process in 2021.

IMSR® pre-application U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission activities commenced in November 2018 with the support of U.S. Department of Energy grant funding. IMSR® power plant site selection work is underway with utilities in Canada and the United States.

The IMSR® uses standard nuclear fuel. For the last 50 years, this has been “standard-assay” low-enriched uranium (less than 5 percent 235U) fuel and is the only nuclear fuel commercially available today. This is a critically important commercial feature for near-term deployment. It is a distinguishing attribute of the IMSR® in the Generation IV advanced reactor sector today.

Growing worldwide demand for a clean, reliable, cost-competitive energy source will drive demand for IMSR® power plants, and Terrestrial Energy is seeking to deploy many hundreds of IMSR® reactors over the next two decades. Furthermore, government policies that support emission-free power generation and industrial heat production can sharply accelerate deployment. In these scenarios, the only technology that meets policy and market needs and can be scaled rapidly is nuclear energy, as was demonstrated in the 1970s.

Timeline for Terrestrial Energy

Growing worldwide demand for a clean, reliable, cost-competitive energy source will drive demand for IMSR® power plants, and Terrestrial Energy is seeking to deploy hundreds of IMSR® reactors over the next two decades. Furthermore, government policies that support emission-free power generation and industrial heat production can sharply accelerate deployment. In these scenarios, the only technology that meets policy and market needs of the day and can be scaled rapidly is nuclear energy, as was demonstrated in the 1970s.

Building on Proven Technology

Glenn Seaborg starting up the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) in 1968, with Chief Engineer J.R. “Dick” Engel at hand to assist. Dick was a member of Terrestrial Energy’s technical team until his death in 2017.

The IMSR® is a truly innovative small modular reactor design that uses proven and demonstrated reactor technology. It is a liquid-fueled reactor, a type of Molten Salt Reactor (MSR), closely related to MSR technology pioneered at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee.

Oak Ridge has developed MSR technology over many decades, building and demonstrating two experimental MSRs: first the Aircraft Reactor Experiment (ARE) and next the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). Based on the successes of these operating reactor experiments, ORNL commenced a commercial power plant program for MSR technology, which led to the Denatured Molten Salt Reactor (DMSR) in the early 1980s. Terrestrial Energy’s IMSR® is most similar to the DMSR.

MSR technology has yet to be deployed commercially. Conventional reactors, which have military origins, used the solid fuel method with coolant water circulating in a highly pressured system. This technology gained an early market position in the 1950s. It quickly became dominant and adequately met market needs for many decades.

However, in recent years, conventional reactors have struggled to remain commercially and socially viable in an evolving global energy marketplace where energy technology innovations in other sectors have successfully driven down the cost of energy.

 

Learn More About Terrestrial Energy

Terrestrial Energy is an industry-leading technology company committed to delivering reliable, emission-free, and cost-competitive nuclear energy with a truly innovative advanced reactor design, the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR®).