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Why Molten Salt Reactors?

Molten Salt Reactors are demonstrated technology. They're flexible in design and purpose, they can be used to help close the nuclear fuel cycle, and they allow for effective utilization of our vast uranium and thorium resources. They can also be simpler reactors with fewer active components, which may significantly improve nuclear energy economics.


ORNL is the world’s leader in Molten Salt Reactor technology development. 


In fact, ORNL leads the Department of Energy’s Molten Salt Reactor Technology Development program, which strives to:

  • Facilitate industry success in the deployment of commercial molten salt reactors.
  • Develop understanding and technology needed to design and license.
  • Have a workable path for licensing of commercial prototypes in the near-term.
  • Have a vendor well along the licensing path NLT five years from now.
  • Help with the first new MSR construction and monitor operation.

Three-year milestones:

  • Develop a common understanding of licensing needs and expectations.
  • Facilitate the technology, data, and models that enable designs.
  • Be able to assist developers through modeling and experiments.
  • Develop monitoring technology for first reactors.




Louis Qualls, Ph.D., is the national technical director for molten salt reactors for the US Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy and also serves as the reactor technology integration lead for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division. In these roles, he works with DOE to support industry efforts to develop and deploy commercial molten salt reactors. Lou has been a researcher at ORNL since 1988, working on a range of nuclear projects that includes fusion energy, nuclear space power systems, and advanced fission reactor concepts. He holds a doctoral degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.