What do you know? Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) are nuclear reactors that use a fluid fuel in the form of very hot fluoride or chloride salt instead of the solid fuel used in most reactors. Since the fuel salt is liquid, it can be both the fuel (producing the heat) and the coolant (transporting the heat to the power plant).
Kirk Sorenson who worked as a NASA engineer n the 2000s was tasked to find a way on how to power a station on the moon. He found that MSRs were the best solution. He also realized that MSRs are a great solution on earth. His tireless advocacy for MSRs has generated much interest. Today, they supply about20% of America's energy.
How is it better? Nuclear energy unlocks a truly incredible source of carbon-free fuel. They're dense, reliable, emit no carbon, and - contrary to bitter popular sentiment - are among the safest energy sources on earth. They don’t melt down like conventional reactors because they are molten by design. An MSR cannot be overheated. It can power whole civilizations, and produce waste streams that are trivial compared to the waste produced by fossil fuel combustion.
It can "burn" with far greater efficiency than any power technology in existence. Nuclear power's 2016 levelised costs make it about twice as cheap as natural gas plants. MSRs Replaces fossil fuels where wind and solar are problematic and can also replace fossil fuels for high heat industrial processes such as water desalinization and the production of cement and aluminum
When was it first used? Under the supervision of Alvin Weinberg in the 1960s, Oak Ridge National Laboratory built an experimental MSR that ran successfully for four years.
MSRs were first developed in the U.S. in the 1950s during the cold war for use in a nuclear-powered aircraft bomber (the idea being that the bomber could remain in the air indefinitely). Though a small experimental reactor ran successfully, the program was canceled when it became clear that in-air refueling of bombers was viable. So what's new? There is ongoing work in MSRs around the world. The Europeans are working on MOSART, the Japanese have FUJI, and the Americans are focused on the FHR. China now spends more than $US350 million a year developing its variation of the Cold War-era design.
Ratan Kumar Sinha, Chairman of Atomic Energy Commission of India, in 2013 announced India’s participation in investigating Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) technology. We have molten salt loops operational at BARC. Entrepreneurs such as Sorensen are also working tirelessly to revive and modernize the technology.