Unconventional nuclear reactors based on molten salt and modular designs sparked the interest of the U.S. Senate Wednesday.
The Senate Committee was extremely supportive of advanced nuclear concepts, as was Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz.
“Nuclear remains our most reliable clean energy source. It is our clean energy workhorse supplying almost 20 percent of our energy supply and more than 60 percent of our clean power,” Jay Faison, founder and CEO of the conservative ClearPath Foundation, told the committee. ” I believe that nuclear should be between 30 and 40 percent of our electricity mix if we are to maintain price stability, affordability, and reliability while greatly reducing emissions….[however] the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) overly conservative regulatory approach could squelch advanced nuclear efforts even before they get off the ground.”
Unconventional nuclear reactors based on molten salt and modular reactors could restart the atomic age by providing cheap, meltdown-proof and waste-free nuclear power. These reactors were originally developed at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, but were abandoned because they couldn’t be used by the military.
Such reactors can’t cause major nuclear accidents, like those seen at Chernobyl and Fukushima, because they operate under regular atmospheric pressure and use a more stable fuel source. These reactors produce no carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and could be directly integrated into the existing power grid.