Transatomic Power, powered by a youthful innovation team, has developed the 500 MW-generating WAMSR - a Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor. WAMSR, which can be mass-produced, is a molten salt reactor that converts high-level nuclear waste into clean electric power. “We can take that waste and power the entire world for 72 years, even taking into account increasing demand. So, you’re powering the world while simultaneously getting rid of all its nuclear waste. There’s a lot to like there, we think.”
Dr. Leslie Dewan
Co-Founder and Chief Science Officer
Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer
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Right now, nuclear power is at a crossroads. Some countries like Germany and Italy are getting rid of nuclear entirely… Other countries like China are greatly expanding their nuclear infrastructure. A lot of new technologies are being developed, focused on solving safety and waste problems.
- A nuclear reactor is just a fancy way of boiling water. No - it’s true. Think of the reactor core as a black box. You can replace what’s in that black box.
- Right now, we really only use one kind of nuclear reactor – the light water reactor. In the early years of the nuclear industry, there was a tremendous amount of innovation taking place….How did we go from all this innovation to building just one type of nuclear reactor?
- The US Navy used the light-water-reactor on the Nautilus. Then they simply took the design they used for the submarine and made it on land [to create the first nuclear power plant]. The problem is the companies that build nuclear reactors are only familiar with this one type of design. It’s really hard for new technologies to break into the industry, to convince people to take a chance on something new.
- After Chernoble, people didn’t want to join the industry. But now there are environmentally conscious people who believe nuclear is the way to go. So it’s a younger workforce.
- The future might not be developed in the United States… China has allocated far more [funding] and have [built, planned or proposed] a total of 212 [nuclear power plants]. So the future might be there.
- Within the U.S. [alone] 2000 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste is generated each year…. No one knows what to do with it yet. Most of it is sitting above ground waiting for a solution. That’s where we come in. We’ve invented the Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor, or WAMSER [laughter]…which can run entirely on the nuclear waste produced by conventional light water reactors.
- We can take that waste and power the entire world for 72 years, even taking into account increasing demand. So, you’re powering the world while simultaneously getting rid of all its nuclear waste. There’s a lot to like there, we think.
- What we call nuclear waste isn’t waste at all. There is a tremendous amount of energy in it. Fuel can stay in a conventional reactor for only 4 years, which limits the energy it can take out to about 3%... It still contains 97% of its original energy. It’s like being a hungry grad student, you make yourself a sandwich, and eat one bite. Then you make another sandwich, and eat one bite. Eventually you’ll get full, but you’ll create an amazing amount of radioactive sandwich waste. We’ve devised a way to eat this leftover sandwich waste.
- We can extract almost all of the energy out of it. So the waste that comes out of it will be radioactive for only a few hundred years not a few thousand years – a solvable engineering problem.
- This reactor is walkaway safe – if it loses power, and even if its operators are gone, it will coast to a stop over the course of a few days