The Market Ticker
Commentary on The Capital Markets- Category [Energy]

I love it when I'm right...

Today, it was announced that the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee is partnering with Canadian nuclear company Terrestrial Energy Inc. (TEI) to assist with TEI’s new Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). The engineering blueprint stage for this GenIV reactor should be reached in two years. The reactor should come online in less than ten.

It's about damn time.

I remind people (and if you'd like, read the last chapter of Leverage) that our government laboratories at Oak Ridge built one of these things back in the 1960s and ran it for four years, proving that it works.

Transuranic elements, in particular plutonium, can be recycled from the liquid fuel without the problems and costs of reprocessing solid fuels, making the nuclear waste virtually free of troublesome long-lived radionuclides. Uranium fuel requirements per kWh become about one-sixth that of a traditional light-water reactor. The IMSR uses normal low-enriched uranium but can also be use thorium and other actinide elements as fuel.

That's right -- it can run on Thorium (which is a lot more plentiful in the earth than Uranium!) and in addition it can also burn up spent nuclear fuel from other reactors, generating energy from them while reducing their waste products down to something rational.

This is a refinement of the LFTR design, and a good one.  Assuming it scales, and there's no reason to believe it won't, this stabilizes energy production -- the key to long-term economic stability.

It also opens the door to synfuel, which means the transport fuel issue on a permanent basis is now able to be solved.  Not on the whims of Saudi Arabia and other nations, but on our own soil.

Is this the last word?  Oh hell no.  But it sure is a big step forward, and one that is a long time in coming.

Bravo!

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