Indonesia looks to molten salt reactor

NEIMAGAZINE.COM – Three state-owned Indonesian companies have completed a technology pre-feasibility study which has concluded that the ThorCon molten salt reactor design proposed by US-based Martingale could deliver safe, cheap, clean energy.

Pertamina, PLN and Inuki said the reactor, which could be built immediately, would be economically viable, and could replace coal power plants. Martingale signed an agreement in 2015 with the Indonesia Thorium Consortium to jointly develop the reactor with Indonesia. The ThorCon team has now begun discussions with Indonesia’s National Nuclear Energy Agency (Batan) to review the design. If Batan approves the design it will recommend to the government that ThorCon be Indonesia’s first NPP.

The Indonesia Nuclear Professional Association has agreed to be project manager for a technical assessment of the technology. ThorCon representative Bob Effendi  said the technical assessment will enable the Indonesian government to “open the door” for nuclear power, as called for in a national plan which says nuclear power plant construction should start in 2019 and be operating by 2025.

ThorCon is a liquid-fuel nuclear reactor design, which uses uranium and thorium fuel dissolved in molten salt. ThorCon requires no new technology because it is a straightforward scale-up of the successful molten salt reactor experiment (MSRE) at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, which is the reference plant. There is no technical reason why a full-scale 250MWe prototype cannot be operating “within four years”, Martingale said.