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Molten salt may be the foundation stone of tomorrow's nuclear powert

Salt is no longer just for popcorn. In fact, it has caught the attention of the nuclear industry. Many salts being considered are cost-effective, non-toxic, and easy to transport. Table salt is even one of the ingredients that many reactor developers choose to use. This increased interest has led to an increase in research and development efforts for molten salt reactors. Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is already working to develop comprehensive molten salt capabilities in the near future. In the coming years, INL will be setting up a molten salt characterization lab, irradiating fuel salt, and launching an experimental "fast" reactor that will run on molten salt for the first time. "Molellar salt research is a critical part of the future of nuclear power generation and INL is uniquely positioned to support industry projects in this field," said John Carter, advanced technology of Molten Salt Manager. "We are ready to make significant progress towards full-scale operations.

Reason for considering salt

As a coolant, molten salt offers many advantages in terms of safety, efficiency, and flexibility. It is interesting to note that molten salt fuel has a built-in safety feature. When the salt gets too hot, it expands and reduces the efficiency of the fission reactions, causing the reactor to shut down. On the other hand, when the molten salt is used as a fuel for a Multiple Source Reactor (MSR), the power level of the MSR core naturally changes to match the heat removal required for energy production. Another advantage of molten salt fuel is fuel flexibility. Potassium, beryllium, and thorium are all salts that can form molten salt fuel. When the reactor operating temperatures reach a certain level, the salt becomes liquid, allowing new fuel to be introduced and cleaning, filtering, and management to occur while the reactor is in operation, eliminating refueling interruptions.

The use of molten salt fuel opens up a whole new world for reactor designers. The typical high temperatures of molten salt fuel in MSRs result in high-efficiency electrical power conversion. The low-pressure feature also eliminates the need for expensive, thick-wall pipes and tanks. Using fast neutrons also has its advantages

Salt stands as a reason to speed up the neutronss

Nuclear reactors that use fast, high energy neutrons are able to sustain a nuclear reaction. These fast neutrons are much more efficient at consuming waste products than slower neutrons, meaning that the amount of waste that needs to be separated from the environment is significantly reduced. Fast-spectrum power reactors can provide clean, reliable electricity to the grid, but they can also be used to provide thermal energy to meet industrial needs, such as the desalination of water, the production of aluminum and steel, the production of hydrogen, and the production of carbon capture. In the past, these processes have burned fossil fuels to produce heat at high temperatures. However, the potential of using high-energy fission to generate heat would significantly reduce the world's reliance on carbon sources. This makes the adoption of a fast spectrum, salt based MSR design a highly desirable option for the nuclear industry, as well as for international governments.

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