The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has granted Terrestrial Energy USA a financial aid package to assist the company's licensing program for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) plant with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). This grant is part of Terrestrial Energy's strategy to obtain a Standard Design Approval (SDA) under 10 CFR Part 52 before commencing commercial operations.
Dr. Kathryn Huff, the Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy, emphasized the importance of this industry funding opportunity in overcoming technical and economic challenges associated with nuclear technologies. She expressed that the awarded funds would contribute to advancements in nuclear energy, ensuring the continued provision of emission-free power for all Americans.
Terrestrial Energy's CEO, Simon Irish, welcomed the DOE's support for their IMSR licensing program. He highlighted the timeliness of this grant, which follows the successful completion of an extensive multi-year review of the IMSR plant design against Canadian regulatory standards. Irish noted the significant value gained from the experiences and engineering capabilities developed during the regulatory engagement, emphasizing their importance for Terrestrial Energy's business. The DOE's regulatory assistance grant will expedite the company's NRC licensing activities.
In April 2023, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) concluded a comprehensive review of the IMSR plant against Canadian regulatory requirements. This review, which spanned several years, determined that there were no significant obstacles to licensing the IMSR plant for commercial use in Canada. It marked the first regulatory evaluation of a nuclear plant utilizing molten salt reactor technology, as well as the first review of its kind for advanced, high-temperature fission technology.
The successful completion of the CNSC review not only supports Terrestrial Energy's engagement with the NRC but also paves the way for future collaboration between the U.S. and Canadian nuclear regulatory agencies. In June 2022, the NRC and CNSC conducted a joint technical review of the IMSR as part of their inter-agency Memorandum of Cooperation, which aims to expedite the licensing of Generation IV nuclear plants for commercial use. Through collaborative technical reviews, the agreement seeks to enhance regulatory effectiveness while upholding a commitment to safety and security.
The design of the IMSR plant incorporates the use of standard assay Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) civilian nuclear fuel, enriched to less than 5 percent. This approach eliminates the need for High Assay LEU (HALEU) fuel and ensures a stable supply of fuel, which is crucial for operating a fleet of IMSR plants in the 2030s. Furthermore, this design choice enhances international regulatory acceptance of the IMSR technology. Terrestrial Energy is actively advancing its fuel supply program through partnerships with Springfields Fuel (Westinghouse) in the UK and Orano in France.
Terrestrial Energy collaborates with various industrial companies in North America and Europe that operate large energy-intensive plants across multiple jurisdictions. These companies are seeking ways to mitigate emissions and secure a reliable, zero-carbon energy supply. The unique capabilities of the IMSR plant make it an ideal solution to provide clean energy to industries, aiding in achieving their sustainability goals.
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