What makes WAMSR so innovative?
Power from nuclear waste. Transatomic Power's Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor -- WAMSR -- can convert the high-level nuclear waste produced by conventional nuclear reactors each year into $7.1 trillion of electricity. At full deployment, our reactors can use existing stockpiles of nuclear waste to satisfy the world’s electricity needs through 2083.
Greatly reduced radioactivity. Conventional reactor waste is radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. Our reactor reduces the majority of the waste's radioactive lifetime to hundreds of years, thereby decreasing the need for permanent repositories such as Yucca Mountain.
Inherently Safe. Unlike conventional reactors, which must rely on operator action, external electric power and active safety systems to prevent damage in accident scenarios, the physics of our design ensures our reactor is always passively safe.
Efficient modular design. Our compact 500 MWe molten salt reactor can be manufactured economically at a central location and transported by rail to the reactor site. Utilities can use the profits from the first reactor installed to fund construction of additional units.
Why it works
WAMSR can be powered by nuclear waste because it uses radically different technology from conventional plants. Instead of using solid fuel pins, we dissolve the nuclear waste into a molten salt. Suspending the fuel in a liquid allows us to keep it in the reactor longer, and therefore capture more of its energy. Conventional nuclear reactors can utilize only about 3% of the potential fission energy in a given amount of uranium before it has to be removed from the reactor. Our design captures 98% of this remaining energy.
Why it's different
Molten salt reactors are not a new technology - they were originally developed and tested at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. In many respects, Transatomic's reactor is similar to these early designs. We use similar safety mechanisms (such as freeze valves), chemical processing techniques (such as off-gas sparging), and corrosion tolerant alloys (such as modified Hastelloy-N). These similarities to previous designs allow us to build on an established body of research and reduce the uncertainty associated with the design.
The main differences between Transatomic Power's molten salt reactor and previous molten salt reactors are our metal hydride moderator and LiF-(Heavy metal)F4 fuel salt. These features allow us to make the reactor more compact and generate electricity at lower cost than other designs. Furthermore, previous molten salt reactors, such as the Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, used uranium enriched to 33% U-235. The WAMSR can operate using fresh fuel enriched to a minimum of 1.8% U-235, or light water reactor waste.