Molten-salt reactors

Another new technology for nuclear reactors is reaching maturity: the molten-salt reactor. One important aspect of the design is it’s “walk-away safe”. That means it doesn’t require any power to remain safe; you can walk away from it and it will safely coast to a halt.

A company says it’s ready to commercialize the design. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, government is in the way:

Bringing the new reactor to market will be challenging. Although the basic idea of a molten-salt reactor has been demonstrated, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s certification process is set up around light-water reactors. The company will need the NRC to establish new regulations, especially since the commission must sign off on the idea of using less steel and concrete if the design’s safety features are to lead to real savings.

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