Terrestrial joins TerraPraxis coal-to-nuclear initiative

09 November 2022

Terrestrial Energy - developer of the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) - has signed a Letter of Intent with TerraPraxis to cooperate on its Repowering Coal programme. According to the agreement, Terrestrial and TerraPraxis will work on a standardised systems interface between the IMSR and coal-fired power plant systems.

A cutaway of an IMSR core (Image: Terrestrial Energy)

TerraPraxis' Repowering Coal programme was launched at COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. In partnership with Microsoft, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Bryden Wood, Schneider Electric and others, Repowering Coal is a programme aimed at integrating clean heat sources with existing infrastructure at coal-fired power plants.

TerraPraxis has selected Terrestrial's IMSR as the first candidate heat source vendor for the Repowering Coal programme.

Terrestrial Energy's IMSR uses molten salt as both fuel and coolant, with integrated components, that can supply heat directly to industrial facilities or use it to generate up to 195 MW of electrical power. The use of molten salt as both fuel and coolant also enables passive, or inherent, safety features to be built into the reactor design. Terrestrial's IMSR builds on 50 years of experience at the USA's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and integrates the primary reactor components, including the graphite moderator, into a sealed and replaceable reactor core unit with an operating lifetime of seven years.

"Terrestrial Energy is a developer of a leading, next-generation, nuclear technology with unique capabilities for Repowering Coal," said Kirsty Gogan, managing director of TerraPraxis. "Terrestrial Energy's high-temperature reactor technology aligns with the vision and mission of Repowering Coal, namely, the rapid and low-cost deployment of Repowering Coal to replace 2 Terawatts of global coal capacity by 2050."

“We are pleased to partner with TerraPraxis and its Repowering Coal consortium on a project with such high-impact potential," said Terrestrial Energy CEO Simon Irish. "Repowering coal with Generation IV nuclear can decarbonise a difficult-to-abate part of the energy system rapidly and cost-effectively."

Eric Ingersoll, managing director of TerraPraxis, added: "We are impressed with Terrestrial Energy's regulatory capabilities and in particular its consistent and steady progress to conclusion of the Canadian nuclear regulator's review of the IMSR. We look forward to incorporating their technology into the design of the Repowering Coal system while mindful of regulatory requirements as we conduct feasibility studies with multiple customers."

A study published in September by the US Department of Energy (DOE) found that hundreds of coal power plant sites across the USA could be converted to nuclear plant sites, providing huge decarbonisation gains as well as bringing tangible economic, employment and environmental benefits to the communities where those plants are located. A coal-to-nuclear transition - siting a nuclear reactor at the site of a recently retired coal power plant - could help increase US nuclear capacity to more than 350 GWe, it said.

Meanwhile, TerraPraxis has also released its new EVALUATE application, which enables coal plant owners and investors around the world to evaluate hundreds of coal plants for fast, low-cost, and repeatable conversion to emissions-free power generation sources.

The application will be free and is designed to help every coal plant owner in the world, as well as potential investors, conduct an initial analysis of the business case, including estimated costs and schedule, for upgrading existing coal plants. The target total cost for repowering is USD2000/kWe, with a target project duration of fewer than five years.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News