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Moltex partners in New Brunswick SMR project
2018-7-19

UK-based Moltex Energy will build a demonstration SSR-W (Stable Salt Reactor - Wasteburner) at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant site in Canada under an agreement signed with the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation and NB Power. Moltex becomes the second partner in a nuclear research cluster that will work on research and development of small modular reactor technology in the Canadian province.

The agreement provides CAD5.0 million (USD3.8 million) of financial support to Moltex for its immediate development activities and Moltex will open its North American headquarters in Saint John and build its development team there. It also calls for Moltex to deploy its first SSR-W at the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant site before 2030.

The government of New Brunswick announced on 26 June its commitment of CAD10 million (USD7.5 million) to help the New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation develop a nuclear research cluster in the province, which is home to the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant. The move aims to position New Brunswick as a leader in the field of research and development of SMR technology. Last week, Advanced Reactor Concepts (ARC) was announced as the first partner in the nuclear research cluster. ARC is developing the ARC-100, a 100 MWe integrated sodium-cooled fast reactor with a metallic uranium alloy core.

Stable salt reactor - 250 (Moltex)
The Stable Salt Reactor (Image: Moltex)

The New Brunswick Energy Solutions Corporation is a joint venture formed in May 2017 by New Brunswick's provincial government and NB Power, operator of the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant, to explore energy export opportunities.

Moltex Energy's SSR is a conceptual UK reactor design with no pumps (only small impellers in the secondary salt bath) and relies on convection from static vertical fuel tubes in the core to convey heat to the steam generators. The fuel assemblies are arranged at the centre of a tank half filled with the coolant salt which transfers heat away from the fuel assemblies to the peripheral steam generators, essentially by convection. Core temperature is 500-600°C, at atmospheric pressure. Moltex has also put forward its GridReserve molten salt heat storage concept to enable the reactor to supplement intermittent renewables.

Moltex has submitted both fast and thermal versions in the UK competition for SMR designs, and has applied for Phase 1 of the Vendor Design Review with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), and its development focus is on Canada.

"The Moltex stable salt reactor technology is a perfect fit for New Brunswick's power needs," said Moltex CEO Stephen Haighton. "It uses spent nuclear fuel, which could help solve the province's future spent-fuel disposal challenge. It is a physically small modular reactor but is able to store energy, so can double or triple its output at peak demand times during the day. Most importantly, the stable salt reactor technology produces very low-cost, clean energy and can reduce the cost of electricity to consumers while achieving low-carbon targets. We are very excited to join our new partners and establish our North American headquarters in New Brunswick."

Provincial Energy and Resource Development Minister Rick Doucet said, "We are positioning New Brunswick as a leader in small modular reactor development and deployment in Canada on a global scale. We are looking to grow our economy while we transition to a lower-carbon environment, and partners like Moltex have the ability to make advancements in the energy sector."

Commenting on the agreement with Moltex, NB Power president and CEO Gaëtan Thomas said: "This represents the second significant private sector partner in nuclear technology, research and potential development to join the recently established nuclear research cluster at the University of New Brunswick. It shows that, here in New Brunswick, we can be leaders in developing energy solutions that will not only help meet energy needs but provide great opportunities for development and exports."

Natural Resources Canada earlier this year launched a process to prepare a roadmap to explore the potential of on- and off-grid applications for SMR technology, aiming to position the country to become a global leader in the emerging SMR market. National nuclear science and technology organisation Canadian Nuclear Laboratories has set a goal of siting a new SMR on its Chalk River site by 2026, and Canadian company Terrestrial Energy in June last year began a feasibility study for the siting of the first commercial Integrated Molten Salt Reactor at Chalk River. The CNSC is currently involved in pre-licensing vendor design reviews for ten small reactors with capacities in the range of 3-300 MWe.

  
 
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