ORNL team developing key molten salt reactor simulation tools
More than 50 years after the development of molten salt reactors (MSRs), the nuclear community has renewed interest in the technology because of its potential to provide the next generation of nuclear power production. Now, the US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is producing tools that aid in the continued development of MSRs, and a team at ORNL recently received funding to advance a software package capable of calculating vital information of various MSR concepts.
“There are a lot of MSR designs, so it’s important we create a tool that is accessible to people across the nuclear field,” said Ben Betzler, reactor physics nuclear engineer at ORNL and principal investigator of the project. “We have similar codes that work with current nuclear reactors that are solid fuel systems; however, there’s not an established code out there specifically for MSRs that use liquid fuel systems.”
For Betzler and collaborators Nicholas Brown, Jeff Powers, and Brad Rearden, the research is centered on improving and coupling separate simulation tools—one that looks at neutron transport that describes the movement of neutrons within a reactor core during operation and another that analyzes fuel makeup—for complete analysis of the system. Continue reading