The Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) announced today that Flibe Energy, Inc will be provided a GAIN Nuclear Energy Voucher to accelerate the innovation and application of the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) Preliminary Safeguards Assessment. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will be operating as the Partner Facility with Flibe Energy on the project.
Flibe Energy is developing the LFTR, an innovative two-fluid molten-salt nuclear reactor coupled to a closed-cycle gas turbine for power generation. Once started with high-233U-content fuel, the LFTR would require no fissile replenishment during its operation, eliminating the need for uranium enrichment infrastructure. LFTR would also eliminate fuel fabrication and utilize internal chemical processing to purify its fuel salt and remove fission products. At the end of its operation, the salts are to be recycled to the next generation of LFTRs. This strategy would nearly eliminate the production of long-lived radioactive wastes and retain all actinides in useful operation in a steady-state environment.
LFTR introduces unique safeguards challenges, including high-233U-content fuel, flowing liquid fuels, and high radiation fields complicating access for inspections. These considerations may require changes in the LFTR design and/or operations, development of safeguards technology, or new safeguards approaches. Completing an evaluation of the viability of the LFTR to secure future investment and development will require support from the safeguards and modeling expertise at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). ORNL has the unique tools to perform this assessment and detailed knowledge of molten salt reactor technologies. ORNL also has specific expertise and experience in destructive and non-destructive assay techniques, safeguards technology and approaches, and experience in the full lifecycle of required safeguards technology development.
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy (DOE-NE) established GAIN to provide the nuclear community with the technical, regulatory and financial support necessary to move innovative nuclear energy technologies toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet. Through GAIN, DOE is making its state-of-the-art and continuously improving RD&D infrastructure available to stakeholders to achieve faster and cost-effective development of innovative nuclear energy technologies toward commercial readiness.