David LeBlanc has given us some of the most intriguing and innovative ideas related to Molten Salt Reactor design. His company Terrestrial Energy Inc. formed officially in December 2012 in Ottawa. The website TerrestrialEnergyInc.com was launched this month and already articles are being posted about what David LeBlanc has been up to with his team.
David has been a speaker at some of the Thorium Energy Alliance Conferences and it was the last conference that he stated “Come for the Thorium. Stay for the Molten Salt Reactor.” At that time in May 2012, he let us know he had something in the works but was not ready to announce his plans. The reactor concepts he discussed were emphasizing the need for simple design and the minimum amount of R & D. His IMSR Integral Molten Salt Reactor is a design that borrows ideas from other related designs. I’m sure he will speak more at this years conference at the end of May
In Mark Halper’s recent post at the Weinberg Foundation Blog
The recent post by Sherrell R. Greene explains his concept of the SmAHTR and how some of the same inspiration from the SmAHTR and earlier designs also inspired his colleague David LeBlanc.
Most notable is the tiny size of the IMSR. The planned fuel for now is Uranium 238. U238 is proliferation safe. Note: Terra Power’s Travelling Wave Reactor also chose this strategy to use U238. Also there is no turbine which is part of the reason for its smaller size.
As Greene points out:
The basic design requirements for SmAHTR were: 125 MWt power, ~700 ºC core outlet temperature, and an integral system topology (no coolant loops). Additionally, the reactor had to be transportable over public roads with common heavy-transport multi-axle semi-tractor-trailors. The system also had to be extremely safe and easily refueled and maintained. The inherent safety attributes of the system are a result of its very low (~ atmospheric) operating pressure, forgiving nuclear dynamics, large thermal margins, and the use of a coolant that doesn’t chemically react with air or water in highly energetic modes …”
The future suddenly looks much brighter than it has been since the Fukushima event. MSRs are making a comeback and now three variety’s have emerged in North America. FLIBE has LFTR, Transatomic has the WAMSR and Terrestrial Energy Inc. has the IMSR. It is is a breakthrough approach that may trigger copycats after word gets out. David LeBlanc’s devotion to keeping the challenges to a minimum are what makes his design a very good contender to be online in 6 or 7 years.