- Karios Power gets DOE Funding; Participates in GAIN/INL Voucher Program
- Moltex Energy Secures multi-million dollar Investment from Major Engineering Firm
- First Canadian SMR license application submitted for an HTGR SMR
DOE Awards Funding to Karios Power
Fluoride Molten Salt HTGR
Award Received in Partnership with Argonne National Laboratory
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week that Kairos Power is a recipient of a Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) Nuclear Energy voucher.
The GAIN vouchers provide advanced nuclear technology companies access to the research facilities and technical expertise within the DOE national laboratories.
This project partners Kairos Power with Argonne National Laboratory to develop design rules for high temperature corrosion resistant structures and helps accelerate construction of Kairos Power’s fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature nuclear reactor (KP-FHR).
“We look forward to continuing our relationship with Argonne National Laboratory on this important initiative,” said Dr. Micah Hackett, Director of Technology Development at Kairos Power.
The goal of this project is to develop design rules to enable the use of corrosion resistant cladding at the high temperatures relevant to advanced reactors, similar to methods used in conventional water-cooled reactors.
Development of this design methodology will be generally beneficial to advanced reactor development. Furthermore, the ability to use cladding will improve the safety, reliability, and economic advantages inherent to the KP-FHR design.
DOE Funding Comes to Karios Power in Two Awards
- Modeling and Simulation Development Pathways to Accelerate KP-FHR Licensing
Under this proposal, Kairos Power will bring forward in the schedule critical advanced modeling and simulation capability through the DOE NEAMS program.
DOE Funding: $5,000,000; Non-DOE: $5,112,519; Total Value: $10,112,519
- Regulatory Assistance Grant pathway:
Technology Pre-Application Licensing Report on the Development of a Mechanistic Source Term Methodology for the Kairos Power Fluoride Cooled High Temperature Reactor (KP-FHR).
Kairos Power, LLC will develop a mechanistic source term for the KP-FHR design including consideration of radionuclides generated and transported in the fuel particle and the barriers to release for licensing basis event analyses.
DOE Funding: $500,000; Non-DOE: $203,957; Total Value: $703,957
How the Karios Reactor Design Works
The Kairos Power FHR (KP-FHR) is a novel advanced reactor technology that leverages TRISO fuel in pebble form combined with a low-pressure fluoride salt coolant. The technology uses an efficient and flexible steam cycle to convert heat from fission into electricity and to complement renewable energy sources.
See this briefing which Karios Power gave to the NRC ( Design Overview for the Kairos Power Fluoride Salt-Cooled, High Temperature Reactor (ML18309A299.pdf) for design details of the reactor.
Rather than water, as used in conventional nuclear reactors, the Kairos Power reactor uses molten fluoride salt as a coolant. Molten fluoride salts tremendous capacity for transferring heat at high temperature and retaining fission products. Various U.S. reactor studies confirm the compatibility of molten fluoride salts with conventional high-temperature structural materials (e.g. stainless steel), thus enabling commercially attractive reliability and service life.
Kairos Power’s reactor uses fully ceramic fuel, TRISO Pebbles, which maintains structural integrity even at extremely high temperatures. This fuel will be undamaged to well above the melting temperatures of conventional metallic reactor fuels. By using pebble-type fuel, Kairos Power reactors can refuel on line, enabling exceptional reliability and availability.
Passive safety means that Kairos Power reactors do not require electricity to remove heat from the core after shutting down. Kairos Power reactors have uniquely large safety margins based on the selected combination of fuel and coolant, which allows emergency cooling to be driven by fundamental physics rather than engineered systems.
MSR designs have several inherent safety advantages. The first, and possibly the most important, is that the reactor is operated at low pressure because the coolants never approach boiling point. Even in an accident, there would be no force expelling materials from the reactor, and no high-pressure containment system would be required to prevent such a release.
In addition, under accident conditions MSRs can rely on convection currents—otherwise known as natural circulation—to circulate the cooling salts. This passive safety feature relies on the fact that hot liquids naturally rise and cooler ones sink. Coolant will therefore continue to circulate through the reactor and remove excess heat indefinitely, even if power is lost to the reactor.
In Kairos Power’s reactor, there is no need to provide for make-up coolant (since the coolant cannot boil away), and the fuel tolerance for extremely high temperatures allows orders of magnitude more cooling capability under accident scenarios compared to water-cooled reactors. High-temperature fuel and coolant dramatically simplifies emergency cooling under all conceivable accidents.
About Kairos Power
According to its website, Kairos Power is a nuclear energy technology and engineering company whose mission is to enable the world’s transition to clean energy with the ultimate goal of dramatically improving people’s quality of life while protecting the environment.
This goal will be accomplished through the commercialization of the Kairos Power fluoride salt-cooled, high-temperature reactor (KP-FHR) that can be deployed with robust safety and at affordable cost.
If you have nuclear engineering expertise, and want to work for an advanced nuclear energy startup, Karios is hiring.
About the GAIN Voucher Program
GAIN announces second-round FY-2019 Nuclear Energy Voucher recipients. GAIN Nuclear Energy (NE) Vouchers to accelerate the innovation and application of advanced nuclear technologies. NE vouchers provide advanced nuclear technology innovators with access to the extensive nuclear research capabilities and expertise available across the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) national laboratory complex. This is the second set of awards in FY 2019.
The GAIN NE Voucher Program accepts applications on innovation that supports production and utilization of nuclear energy (e.g., for generation of electricity, supply of process heat, etc.) in the following general topic areas:
- Analysis and evaluation of, and for, advanced reactor concepts and associated designs, including development of licensing information or strategies
- Structural material and component development, testing and qualification
- Advanced nuclear fuel development, fabrication and testing (includes fuel materials
- Development, testing, and qualification of instrumentation, controls, and sensor technologies that are hardened for harsh environments and secured against cyber intrusion
- Modeling and simulation, high-performance computing, codes and methods
- Technical assistance from subject matter experts and/or data/information to support technology development and/or confirm key technical or licensing issues
GAIN NE voucher recipients do not receive direct financial awards. The GAIN nuclear energy vouchers provide access to national laboratory capabilities at no cost to the voucher recipients. All awardees are responsible for a minimum 20 percent cost share, which could be an in-kind contribution. Further information on the GAIN nuclear energy voucher program as well as current and all past awards may be found here.
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) established GAIN to provide the nuclear community with the technical, regulatory and financial support necessary to move innovative nuclear energy technologies toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet.
Through GAIN, DOE is making its state-of-the-art and continuously improving RD&D infrastructure available to stakeholders to achieve faster and cost-effective development of innovative nuclear energy technologies toward commercial readiness.
Moltex Energy Secures Investment
from A Major Engineering Firm
Moltex Energy has secured a substantial investment from IDOM Consulting, Engineering, Architecture SAU, a prestigious and innovative global consulting & engineering company with a large, experienced and successful nuclear engineering practice worldwide.
The multi-million dollar (USD) investment allows Moltex to expand its New Brunswick office and accelerate its pre-licensing progress through Vendor Design Review (VDR).
IDOM will be joining the New Brunswick Modular Reactor cluster led by New Brunswick Power, announced last summer. IDOM’s extensive experience in the design of molten salt facilities for the Concentrated Solar Power industry will help Moltex take a massive step towards the construction of the first of a kind Stable Salt Reactor (SSR), including GridReserve®energy storage that allows SSR equipped nuclear power plants to have variable output.
- See prior coverage on this blog – Small Nations Have Big Plans for Nuclear Energy
IDOM will also be working closely with Moltex Energy both in Canada and in Spain, with particular emphasis on mechanical engineering, thermal hydraulics and the use of molten salts.
About Moltex Energy
Moltex Energy is a nuclear technology development company. Existing stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel can be used as the fuel source, and the energy can be stored with its patented GridReserve® technology, to enable a larger expansion of renewables in a carbon-free grid.
About IDOM Nuclear
IDOM Group is an employee-owned company developing projects in more than 125 countries. IDOM takes part in the most advanced and innovative projects in the world in power generation, infrastructures, architecture, consulting and nuclear fields providing clear added value to their clients. IDOM Nuclear Services is present in more than 15 countries through the complete nuclear energy & research life cycle. IDOM participates in commercial nuclear projects, research reactor and nuclear medicine projects with a considerable number of fusion projects in ITER.
About New Brunswick Power
NB Power is the primary electric utility in New Brunswick and was established in 1920. It serves over 400,000 customers with safe, reliable and efficient electricity.
First Canadian SMR License Application Submitted to CNSC
(NucNet): Canada’s nuclear regulator has received the country’s first license application to build a small modular nuclear power reactor.
The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) said the application, from Global First Power with support from Ontario Power Generation and which is being developed by Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation, is to deploy a 5 Mwe micro modular reactor (MMR) plant at Chalk River in Ontario.
The companies confirmed their submission of the application, which is in response to an invitation issued in April 2018 by Canadian Nuclear Laboratories for the construction and operation of an SMR demonstration unit at a CNL-managed site.
The application for a license to prepare a site for an SMR at Chalk River was submitted on 20 March 2019. The regulator’s licensing process begins with a “sufficiency review” of the application. If and when the project description is assessed as complete, the next step for the regulator would be to issue a notice of commencement. The project description would then become available for public comment as part of the environmental assessment process.
In February Global First Power’s proposal became the first to advance to the third stage of CNL’s four-step review process, meaning the GFP consortium could discuss land arrangements, project risk management, and contractual terms.
Global First Power (GFP) is an independent energy provider specializing in project development, licensing, ownership and operation of small nuclear power plants to supply clean power and heat to remote industrial operations and residential settlements. GFP is a federally incorporated Canadian company located in Mississauga, Ontario.
In 2017, CNL set the ambitious goal of siting an SMR on a CNL-managed site by 2026. It received 19 expressions of interest from technology developers interested in building a prototype or demonstration reactor at a CNL site.
In February Terrestrial Energy and Starcore Nuclear completed the pre-qualification stage of the same invitation process.
The proposed GFP project includes a nuclear plant containing an MMR unit. The plant will provide approximately 15 MW (thermal) of process heat (up to 5 MW of electricity) to an adjacent plant where it will be converted to electrical power or heat for clients. The electrical power could also be supplied to the area grid.
“The MMR technology is an economically competitive alternative to greenhouse gas emitting diesel power and heat generation, with a smaller environmental footprint,” GFP said.
GFP said it hopes that the MMR system will replace diesel in remote mines and communities that do not have access to the electricity grid as well as provide broad benefits in addressing energy-related issues in the indigenous communities in the north. The MMR™ plant can operate as a stand-alone remote plant.
Profile of the MMR Energy System
Predictable Power – The reactor core consists of hexagonal graphite blocks containing stacks of fuel pellets. The MMR™ reactor core has a low power density and a high heat capacity resulting in very slow and predictable temperature changes. The MMR™ reactor is fueled once for its lifetime.
Helium Coolant – Helium gas is the MMR™ reactor’s primary coolant. The helium passes through the nuclear core and is heated by the controlled nuclear fission process. The helium then transports the heat away from the core to the Molten Salt System.
The MMR™ reactor uses helium as it is an inert gas; a radiologically transparent, single-phase gas with no flashing or boiling possible. Helium does not react chemically with the fuel or reactor core components. It is easy to accurately measure and control the helium pressure in the reactor. The Fully Ceramic Microencapsulatged FCM™ fuel ensures the helium is clean and free of fission products. See also this paper on FCM fuel from ORNL.
FCM™ fuel cannot be re-processed, it can only be used to generate heat. FCM™ fuel reactions cannot grow or be forced out of control – FCM™ fuel is secure.
The reactor, using helium coolant, has an outlet temperature of 630 degrees Celsius. The plant is never refueled and has a service life of 20 years. The nuclear fission products are locked in the fuel particles permanently.
The MMR™ plant is simple to operate, and flexible in its outputs. The use of molten salt thermal storage allows for significant flexibility in the supply of both electricity and process heat.
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