Magnetically Suspended Canned Rotor Pumps for the Integral Molten Salt Reactor

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Program:
MEITNER
Award:
$3,150,000
Location:
Oak Ridge,
Tennessee
Status:
ACTIVE
Project Term:
07/29/2019 - 01/28/2022

Critical Need:

Nuclear energy provides about one-fifth of U.S. electricity generation, delivering reliable, low-emission, baseload power to the grid. However, the future of nuclear energy is unclear; high costs and a rapidly changing grid—including growing renewable resources like wind and solar—present new challenges for existing and new nuclear plants. The next generation of nuclear plants require new technological advances to achieve strategic grid integration with intermittent resources, extremely low construction capital costs, and dramatically shorter construction and commissioning times than currently available plants.

Project Innovation + Advantages:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the University of Tennessee are developing and performance testing an innovative prototype pump for a small, modular, advanced molten salt nuclear reactor (MSR). The reliability of fuel salt circulation pumps is important to MSR commercial deployment since these pumps must operate leak-free for years at high temperature and in an extreme radiation environment. Present generation pumps are restricted to long vertical shafts with bearings located above the salt line, decreasing both pump lifetime and efficiency. This project will incorporate two innovations that will dramatically improve the reliability of molten salt pumps—magnetic bearings and canned rotor structure. This design will eliminate the need for shaft seals, a preferred approach identified in the MSR experiment at ORNL in the 1960s. The proposed pump will also employ advanced electromagnetic materials suited to MSR operating temperatures and radiation levels. Lastly, operating this fuel salt pump and monitoring its performance will require innovative sensors to remotely locate the control electronics. The resulting design will improve MSR plant performance and cost metrics.

Potential Impact:

If successful, developments from MEITNER projects will inform the development of lower cost, safe, and secure advanced nuclear power plants.

Security:

Nuclear power plants contribute to grid stability by providing reliable baseload power.

Environment:

Nuclear power has low life cycle emissions, making it a key source of clean electricity.

Economy:

Nuclear power provides high-efficiency electrical generation for the U.S. grid. Reducing plant costs reduces exposure to price volatility.

Contact

ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Zak Fang
Project Contact:
Alexander Melin
Press and General Inquiries Email:
ARPA-E-Comms@hq.doe.gov
Project Contact Email:
melina@ornl.gov

Partners

University of Tennessee
Hayward Tyler Inc.

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Release Date:
06/04/2018