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Experimental salt reactor company weighing INL site

April 20, 2018 GMT

Idaho National Laboratory could play host to a small modular reactor that uses molten salt.

Terrestrial Energy USA and Energy Northwest have reached a memorandum of understanding on building and running an integral molten salt reactor at INL, the company announced in a statement Wednesday.

This doesn’t mean one will be built at the desert site. It is one of a number of sites being considered, said Terrestrial spokesman Jarret Adams.

Terrestrial is developing the molten salt reactor now, which uses molten saltas fuel in place of conventional solid fuel. According to the company’s website, the reactors are expected to come online in the 2020s and will produce electricity and industrial heat at prices competitive with fossil fuels, but without producing any greenhouse gases. Adams said it is “fundamentally different from today’s nuclear reactors.”

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“The IMSR uses a liquid fuel and it’s low-cost, emission-free and walk-away safe,” he said. “And so the idea is, it’s a cost-competitive alternative to fossil fuel consumption.”

The company is evaluating where to put the reactor. It is expected to have a 190-megawatt output. Adams said it is too early to speculate as to how the power would be used.