Nuclear – Finally, a benchmark


ORNL’s Molten Salt Reactor Experiment operated 1966-1970, successfully using U235 and U233 fluoride fuels. The historic experiment is the basis for a new molten salt reactor benchmark. Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy


In the 1960s, Oak Ridge National Laboratory embarked on the four-year Molten Salt Reactor Experiment to test the viability of liquid fuel reactor technologies for commercial power generation. Results from that historic experiment recently became the basis for the first-ever molten salt reactor benchmark.

The benchmark, published in the
2019 OCED/NEA International Reactor Physics Experiment Evaluation Handbook, fills a significant gap for the international nuclear reactor community to verify and validate computer codes used for future molten salt reactor development and licensing.

ORNL’s Jeff Powers and Germina Ilas led the
project, along with Dan Shen and project lead Max Fratoni of the University of California at Berkeley, who combed through hundreds of MSRE reports from the 1950s and 1960s to find data for the study.

“This benchmark could help underpin the licensing applications for industry pursuing MSR designs,” Powers said. “If we can play even a small part in helping an advanced MSR concept come to market, I think that’s a pretty big win.”

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