Demand for clean energy inspires new generation to innovate nuclear power
Dissolving uranium in liquid offers several safety benefits. If the fuel gets too hot, the liquid expands and the uranium atoms become too dispersed to sustain a nuclear chain reaction. It turns itself off.
And in the event of a station failure like Fukushima, the liquid fuel flows into a larger tank, where it cools passively without the need for electricity. At Oak Ridge they successfully operated and tested a molten salt reactor for four years and it worked.
However, building a reactor that can withstand something as corrosive as a very hot salt bath is a major engineering challenge. Oak Ridge’s funding ended before they could work on it. The corrosion problem is therefore the focus of early testing for Leslie Dewan’s startup Transatomic.