At this stage we are not ready to build a reactor yet. Dutch law currently provides three possible locations (Borssele, 2de Maasvlakte & Eemshaven). Depending on Dutch nuclear energy policy other locations could become available. We are investigating with EPZ, operator of the Borssele plant, whether their site could accommodate the first Thorizon system.
When can we expect the first reactor systems to be build?davidwijns2022-06-29T15:36:13+02:00
We aim to build the first reactors sometime around 2035. An external due diligence performed by Tractebel Engie has concluded this to be sufficient time for completing design activities, construction and commissioning of a first-of-a-kind. With sufficient additional funding, strong industry participation and adequate governmental support, this timeline can be reduced, but we prefer not to to over promise this estimate.
How much waste can this reactor burn?davidwijns2022-07-07T12:35:34+02:00
We will be able to burn approximately 1/2 of the long-lived waste generated by normal water-cooled nuclear power plants and generates no new long-lived waste. What remains is degraded to a level that it is not very good fuel anymore for our current design. Future designs will be able to convert close to 100% of the long-lived waste, but requires further development, for which we need the experience with our first design.
How can the reactor “burn” existing radioactive waste?davidwijns2022-07-07T12:35:04+02:00
In a normal water-cooled reactor Uranium is split, generating highly active short-lived waste and energy. But also heavier elements are generated, which are less active, but remain radiotoxic for a long time. Especially these heavier elements require very long term safe storage, to avoid being released into the environment. However, there is still a lot of energy stored in these materials, and in the Thorizon system we also split these heavy elements, and turn it into short-lived waste and energy, without generating new long-lived waste.
Thorizon has made maximal use of the so-called ‘inherent safety features’ molten salt reactor technology can provide, meaning safety is controlled by various passive safety mechanisms governed by laws of nature, complemented by additional active safety systems if possible. These safety mechanisms include;
Automatic power reduction when temperature increase.
If pumps stop, the fuel will automatically flow out of the reactive zone, thus stopping the reactor.
The heat that is still generated after shutdown is transferred to the environment automatically, no active cooling is needed.
The entire system is at low-pressure, under all circumstances.
How much will the reactor cost?davidwijns2022-06-29T15:38:20+02:00
For various reasons it is impossible to give an accurate estimation of the costs. We aim to achieve market-competitive energy by our specific design features, which can lead to cost reduction:
By not having a large irreplaceable reactor vessel containing the core, but smaller individually replaceable modules forming the core.
Modules will be series-produced off-site, can incorporate improvements over time and avoid degradation issues of core materials by its replaceability.
The core can be qualified on module level, and the passive safety features of the reactor will reduce the need for expensive active systems and the cost of high-pressure resistant building. This will decrease development and construction costs.
Because we use long-lived waste as fuel, we convert a large system-cost into an energy sale.
The modular approach will decrease construction time of the plant, since construction time is one of the mail drivers of costs due to interest payments, our financing cost will likely decrease.
How much and what type of energy can the reactor produce?davidwijns2022-06-29T15:38:40+02:00
Our current design produces in the order of 250 MW of thermal power in the form of 550°C clean steam, which can be used directly for production processes (chemistry, hydrogen), or can be converted to 100 MW of electric power.
Will the reactor emit carbondioxide to produce energy?davidwijns2022-08-08T11:29:04+02:00
Some CO2 may be emitted for building the reactor, the modules and producing the reactor fuel, depending on the energy sources used to build the power plant. This is however negiligible compared to the power that is generated by operating the system, which is emission-free. In general it can be safely assumed that the energy produced, in total, releases less CO2 than renewable sources, and much less than fossil sources.
Why is a meltdown effectively impossible?davidwijns2022-06-29T15:40:13+02:00
Molten salt reactors in general have an interesting feature: the coolant is also the fuel, and it is liquid, under all thinkable circumstances. Thorizon has exploited this feature for maximum safety:because the fuel is a liquid, it expands freely when temperatures increase, causing the system to power down by itself, by laws of nature. In the Thorizon design, when the system pumps stop, the fuel cannot stay in the reactor core, and flows down by gravity, by which the reactor stops by itself. Remaining heat is transferred to the environment without temperature or pressure escalation issues.
In addition, we use multiple containments which are all monitored, to secure that in the unlikely event of a leak, there is always another barrier to make sure nothing comes out, and enough barriers are left to remove the leaking component safely.
A core melt, in which the situation escalates and barriers are breached that cause radioactive materials to be released, can therefore be excluded.
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