Salt could cool cores of advanced nuclear reactors

Nov 03, 2006

The water in a conventional nuclear reactor cools the core, but a graduate student at the University of Missouri-Rolla says salt would be a better alternative in some advanced reactor designs.

Brandon Distler, a graduate student in nuclear engineering from Eldon, Mo., was recently awarded a fellowship from the U.S. Department of Energy to pursue his research related to using salts as coolant in nuclear reactors.

All commercial reactors in the United States currently employ water as the coolant, but Distler says salts are being considered at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Distler had an internship at Oak Ridge last summer.

Using salts as the coolant, according to Distler, would allow reactors to operate at close to 1,000 degrees Celsius. Water-based reactors typically operate at about 330 degrees Celsius.

“Water wouldn’t work at the extreme temperatures we propose, but the salt would melt into a clear liquid that would provide stability,” Distler says. “The process for turning heat into electricity is more efficient at higher temperatures and it would be more efficient in the production of hydrogen.”

Distler is one of 12 graduate students to receive the fellowship this year through the DOE’s Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative. In addition to a monthly stipend of $1,600, Distler will receive funds to cover tuition and textbooks while he pursues a master’s degree.

At UMR, Distler is developing a modification to the Oak Ridge model. He hopes to improve the proposed design for a salt-based reactor and make it even more efficient.

Source: University of Missouri-Rolla

Explore further: Imaginative ideas for a 'greenlight district' in Amsterdam

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mexico acid leak leaves orange river, toxic water

12 hours ago

Ramona Yesenia stood in her town square with two empty jugs, waiting for water to replace the municipal supply contaminated by a chemical spill that turned Mexico's Sonora river orange.

Recommended for you

Image: Testing electric propulsion

3 hours ago

On Aug. 19, National Aviation Day, a lot of people are reflecting on how far aviation has come in the last century. Could this be the future – a plane with many electric motors that can hover like a helicopter ...

Where's the real value in Tesla's patent pledge?

4 hours ago

With the much-anticipated arrival next month of electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla's Model S to Australian shores, it's a good time to revisit Tesla's pledge to freely share patents. ...

New type of solar concentrator desn't block the view

18 hours ago

(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at Michigan State University has developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window creates solar energy while allowing people to actually see through ...

Asian inventions dominate energy storage systems

20 hours ago

In recent years, the number of patent applications for electrochemical energy storage technologies has soared. According to a study by the Technical University Munich, the largest volume of applications is ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

jerryd
not rated yet Jun 07, 2009

In nukes salts are more problematic and gases can do the job well without the corrosion risks. Hot water reactors have too many problems and not eff enough.
Small inherently safe gas cooled reactors like pebble bed types are the future I believe.