Bill Gates nuclear energy technology firm TerraPower, Southern Company, and Core Power have started pumped-salt operations in the Integrated Effects Test (IET), signifying a major achievement in the development of Generation-IV molten salt reactor technology, namely TerraPower’s first-of-a-kind Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR).

Since installation of the IET at TerraPower’s laboratory in Everett, Washington, the project team has completed mechanical, electrical and controls verification and commissioned all systems.

Commissioning employed hot argon and chloride salts to confirm readiness, including filling and flushing of drain tanks and verifying operation of freeze valves – a unique and important component for salt systems.

Chloride salt has now been loaded into the primary coolant salt loops and pumped-salt operations have begun.

A multi-month test campaign will provide valuable salt operations data and know-how for the MCFR program.

“The startup of the Integrated Effects Test is a milestone achievement in the development of the first fast-spectrum molten salt reactor, and we are immensely proud to contribute to its success,” said Mikal Bøe, president and chief executive of Core Power, a UK-based development company, specializing in scalable new nuclear for ocean transport and heavy industry.

“The Integrated Effects Test allows us to collect that crucial last-mile data for a design and build of the Molten Chloride Fast Reactor, and takes the team one step closer to a genuinely unique way to do new nuclear that is appropriate for the commercial marine environment.”

The IET will inform the design, licensing and operation of an approximately 180-megawatt MCFR demonstration planned for the early 2030s time frame.

Bøe added that: “New Nuclear for Maritime is the only solution that can take the ocean transport industry to actual zero. It’s the end game of our energy transition and with solid progress being made in building a new nuclear technology that actually works for shipping, we see the momentum continuing to build.”