Nuclear power is an important source that will contribute immensely towards a sustainable future. Rory O’Sullivan, Chief Executive Officer, Moltex Energy, explains the significance of nuclear energy and highlights the importance of advanced technology used in nuclear reactors to Relin Hedly, New Media Communication. Excerpts…
Your views on the state on Indian nuclear energy today, the challenge and opportunities
India has a thriving nuclear R&D sector but its new build program has been slow because of the poor economics of large conventional reactors. India’s atomic energy commission has stated that Molten Salt Reactors (the class of reactor that the Stable Salt Reactor fits in) is their long term solution. We would encourage the Indian government to assess the Stable Salt Reactor and its commercial readiness now. It could transform the energy economic outlook for India specifically regarding the aggressive decarbonisation targets that have been put in place. We would like to assist India to get them off coal without increasing electricity bills.
Is nuclear power is essential to address our global energy issues?
Nuclear power is essential to address our global energy issues as intermittent renewables alone cannot meet the current and future demand. Net zero carbon emissions by 2050 is simply not possible without nuclear power unless we allow electricity costs to skyrocket like we have seen in Germany. Many countries around the world have stockpiles of nuclear waste from their current plants and we have discovered a clean, safe and economical way to recycle this waste.
What are the advantages of Moltex advanced reactors?
The Stable Salt Reactor (SSR) has many advantages. This technology can produce power at a lower cost than fossil fuelled power generation; it can store energy to complement intermittent renewable energy sources and largely eliminates the problem of nuclear waste from current nuclear power generating stations.
Another advantage of our design is the compact size of our reactor. The lower quantity of parts required positively impacts the overall cost of the SSR. Another consequence is the much smaller overall size/footprint. From an economic perspective, this is a key benefit leading to lower construction and operation costs.
Could you give us details about Stable salt reactors?
The technology in our Stable Salt Reactors use molten salt fuel in standard nuclear fuel tubes.
- The fuel salt is held in safe vented tubes.
- The tubes are bundled into fuel assemblies and held in the support structure which forms the reactor modules.
- The tank is filled with a safe molten salt coolant, which is not pressurized. A second similar coolant salt system takes heat from the primary coolant salt to our patented GridReserve energy storage system that uses a renewable energy technology at a much lower cost.
- GridReserve is a collection of molten salt storage tanks that stores gigawatt scale thermal energy when it’s not needed for electricity production. When demand goes up, say when renewables are off, the plant can take heat from the reactor and storage tanks to produce electricity.
- Refueling is simple: Fuel assemblies are simply moved sideways out of the core and replaced with fresh fuel assemblies. This results in a near on-line refuelling process.
- The entire construction is simple, with no high-pressure systems, few moving parts, and no Pressure Vessel needing specialist foundries.
- The reactor is continuously cooled by natural air flow, giving complete security against overheating in an accident situation.
How many nuclear power stations does Moltex own and operate?
We are working hard to first build and demonstrate this technology in New Brunswick, Canada. Subsequent reactors will follow directly later in the UK, Ontario and the US. We are a privately held international company striving to solve the world’s most pressing challenge: safe and economical clean energy. We are based in the UK and Canada but actively collaborate with experts, companies and institutions from around the world.
What initiatives is Moltex taking to fulfill small modular reactors (SMR) research projects?
Moltex Energy is one of the two companies that NB Power has selected to explore building Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in New Brunswick. We have developed a first-of-its-kind technology to build a better nuclear reactor that will safely, cleanly and economically solve global energy issues and power the planet in the 21st century. The workforce, along with the existing nuclear generating station and a supportive government, make New Brunswick an ideal location to build this technology.
How does Moltex contribute towards recycling nuclear waste into a fuel to produce power?
Many countries have stockpiles of nuclear waste from their current plants; waste which will need storing carefully for 300,000 years. We can take this spent nuclear fuel (which some call waste!) and convert it into fuel for our reactors to create more clean energy. Doing so also reduces the hazardous lifetime a thousand-fold.
Any other additional information you would like to share.
The premiers of New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan have recently signed an MoU to collaborate on SMRs and we are very pleased with this progression. This sets us up for being a pan Canadian technology to suit the markets of several provinces. We are now seeking financial support from the federal government in order to leverage private investment which we have lined up.