Source: Nanalyze | March 2021
Some emerging technologies are advancing so rapidly that we seem to write about them every week. Artificial intelligence is the most obvious example, as it bleeds into most other sectors, including robotics, smart cities, drug discovery, and the list goes on. Progress around other technologies is so painfully slow – and the eventual payoff debatable or so distant as to be nearly meaningless in a mortal lifetime – that we only occasionally revisit the topic to make sure we haven’t missed some great technological leap. A recent example is carbon capture, which remains economically infeasible but is attracting renewed interest from EGS types who want to mitigate some of the environmental impacts from fossil fuels. Another strategy, of course, is to switch to alternative forms of energy. One of these is the nuclear option – molten salt reactors, to be specific.
We’ve written quite a bit about advanced nuclear technology over the years. It’s an umbrella term for all of the different types of nuclear energy options under consideration to replace the current crop of power plants that use various kinds of fuels and coolants. The next-generation designs include not just molten salt reactors (MSRs), but also fusion reactors and small modular reactors (SMRs). It’s probably useful to understand a little bit about the history of nuclear power before we review the current state of molten salt reactors.