MCFR Solutions: Nuclear Innovation for New Options in American Industry

TerraPower’s molten chloride fast reactor (MCFR) project answers global challenges by expanding the ability of nuclear technology to address carbon reduction in sectors beyond electricity. The MCFR project, a complement to the traveling wave reactor (TWR) program, has the potential to be a relatively low-cost reactor that can operate safely in new temperature regimes. This means the technology can do more than generate electricity; it also offers potential in alternative markets, such as process heat and thermal storage.

TerraPower’s research and development of the MCFR project has already expanded into design and testing activities. And in January 2016, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded a five-year, $40 million cost share award for continued research and development into TerraPower’s MCFR project. This award served as the impetus for a new public-private MCFR project development partnership that includes TerraPower, the Southern Company, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Electric Power Research Institute and Vanderbilt University.

Late 1940s

Molten salt fuels are conceived for possible use in nuclear-powered airplanes.

Late 1940s

1956

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Dr. Alvin Weinberg sets in place a team at Oak Ridge to develop a molten salt reactor power plant.

1956

1962

Construction of a test reactor called the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment begins in 1962.

1962

1966

The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment begins operation.

1966

1969

The Atomic Energy Commission (now the U.S. Department of Energy) cancels most funding for the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment.

1969

1973 - 1976

The Molten Salt Reactor Program is shutdown in 1973, briefly revived in 1974, and permanently terminated in 1976.

1973 - 1976

2001

The nuclear energy Generation IV forum chooses molten salt reactors as one of six generation IV concepts.

2001

2012

TerraPower identifies molten salt reactors as a research technology.

2012

2016

The U.S. Department of Energy awards $40 million in research funds as part of a public-private partnership involving TerraPower for the design and testing of its molten chloride fast reactor project.

2016

2016

TerraPower and partners win DOE’s Advanced Reactor Competition with the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor technology.

2016