Nuclear engineering researchers participate in 2016 Molten Salt Reactor Workshop

Tsvetkov Poster Award

Researchers from the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University participated in the 2016 Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) Workshop. 

The workshop, “Moving MSRs Forward – The Next Steps,” was organized and hosted by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) on Oct. 4-5. The workshop built on the momentum of the 2015 workshop “50th Anniversary of the Startup of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE).” The 2016 workshop focused on advances in MSR technology, commercial developments and licensing initiatives being undertaken toward advanced reactors and MSRs since 2015.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to participate in the second workshop and showcase our MSR-related efforts,” said Dr. Pavel Tsvetkov, associate professor of nuclear engineering. 

Tsvetkov’s research group is part of a Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored multi-university collaborative research project focused on liquid-salt-cooled high temperature reactors. The overall effort is led by the Georgia Institute of Technology and includes researchers from Georgia Tech, Ohio State University, Texas A&M, Texas A&M University-Kingsville and ORNL.

“While the overall project aims at an integral approach to address technology and licensing challenges, our portion of the effort is focused on advanced instrumentation systems for these reactors and corresponding performance demonstrations in scaled and prototypical conditions including visual instrumentation, fiberoptics and reconstruction approaches supporting technology development, testing protocols and licensing evaluations,” said Tsvetkov.

The Texas A&M team presented two posters at the workshop. One of the posters, “Integrated FHR Instrumentation Approach for Licensing, Characterization and Validation,” won third place in the 2016 Best Poster Award Competition. The team of Jason Hearne, Grace Marcantel and Ryan Brownfield developed the poster. 

“We are considering instrumentation options taking advantage of the fact that molten salts are optically transparent, and integrating those options with conventional and other advanced sensing technologies such as fiberoptics which we have already been testing since 2009 for applications in very high temperature reactors,” said Dr. Gwyn Rosaire, a postdoctoral research associate at Texas A&M who works with Tsvetkov. 

According to Tsvetlov, Molten salt reactors are being pursued as one of the next generation nuclear reactor options offering economical clean nuclear energy. ORNL successfully operated a molten salt reactor in the 1960s to demonstrate the technology. Since then, both domestically and internationally, molten salt reactors have been growing in popularity due to their versatility and potential ways to both generate electricity and take care of nuclear waste, thus yielding clean and sustainable nuclear energy. According to Tsvetkov, MSRs are at the forefront of advanced nuclear energy systems with strong interests from domestic companies and the international community.

 “I think the reason our poster did so well was that we were able to convey the importance of this research from the standpoint of gaining more knowledge of the reactor system as a whole,” Rosaire said. “The idea is to use this to help further licensing of a molten salt reactor so we can actually build one of these, and I’m looking forward to when that can happen.”