Two nuclear engineering Ph.D. students at MIT have decided to take a leap of faith and start-up their own business. In 2011 Leslie Dewan and Mark Massie registered the company Transatomic Power with the intentions of revolutionising the nuclear industry.
Their invention is called a ‘Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor’. It is a high temperature reactor which can consume the spent fuel left over from conventional light-water reactors (LWRs). The Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) is much more efficient at converting the uranium fuel into energy than LWRs. An LWR can make use of about 3% of the potential energy, whereas Transatomic suggest heir MSR could utilise up to 98% of the energy in the fuel.
As the name suggests, the fuel in and MSR is liquid, which means that if a ‘meltdown’ starts to occur it is more easily dealt with. The MSR has a reactor shaped like a bathtub with a plug whole at the bottom. If anything goes wrong with the reaction, the plug melts and the entire contents of the reactor core can drain into a shielded underground container.
Transatomic are excited that their design could solve the major existing problems associated with modern nuclear power plants, that being the large volumes of radioactive waste, as well as the potential dangers in the event of a meltdown.
Transatomic have announced that they would prefer to build their design in the US, but are willing to consider other countries if licensing or finance problems arise.
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com