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ThorCon’s Green Nuclear Power Gains Momentum

Fall 2017 has been a watershed of progress for ThorCon, a startup developing liquid fuel fission power plants. The company is working to implement its molten salt reactor (MSR) technology first in Indonesia.

 

1. The Argonne National Lab has teamed up with ThorCon to apply for DOE grants that would support the development of ThorCon’s advanced MSR technology. One of the proposed projects would have Argonne apply its new high-fidelity simulation tools to ThorCon’s reactor design.

2. ThorCon’s first round of funding has been achieved. One of the investors, Dr. Gary Bergstrom, the founder of Acadian Asset Management, states “I was impressed by the extraordinary engineering abilities of the team as well as the project’s potential to make a dent in the climate change problem. Over my career I have been extensively involved with investing in emerging economies and I believe that many are promising markets for ThorCon’s clean, non-intermittent, and low cost (under 7 cents/kWh) electric power. It also offers dramatic benefits in facility placement options and safety versus other alternatives.”

3. In early November, a delegation from Indonesian President Widodo’s special advisory Council on the National Economy and Industry (KEIN), made a visit to the United States to carry out due diligence on molten salt reactor (MSR) technology and on the ThorCon design. The delegation was escorted by ThorCon on visits to the Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station, the Argonne National Lab, the Oak Ridge National Lab, and the Office of Nuclear Energy of the Department of Energy in Washington, DC.
Meeting at Argonne

Meeting at Argonne. From left: Cherria Supit (secretary KEIN), Lars Jorgensen (CEO of ThorCon US), Bo Feng (ANL reactor design expert), Tanju Sofu (ANL Program Manager), Florent Heidet (ANL Section Manager), Zulnahar Usman (head of KEIN delegation), David Devanney (CEO of ThorCon International), Bob Effendi (KEIN), Deltadi Nurwijayanto (KEIN).

Meeting at ORNL

Meeting at ORNL. From left: Dr. David Holcomb (ORNL), Dr. Gary T. Mays (ORNL headof MSR program, Mr. Zulnahar Usman (head of KEIN delegation), Mr. Bob Effendi (KEIN), Lars Jorgensen (CEO of ThorCon US), Ms. Cherria Supit (KEIN).

Mr. Zulnahar Usman, the chairman of the delegation, summarized the trip as “an unqualified success. Our meetings and discussions with various nuclear and molten salt reactor experts in the United States have confirmed the safety and viability of the MSR technology. The ThorCon power plant has also been confirmed as an excellent design whose stated schedule and costs are doable. I am going to strongly recommend to President Widodo that the Government add the Thorium MSR technology to the country’s energy mix.”

 

4. One of the highlights of the delegation’s US trip was a meeting  the DOE’s acting head of nuclear energy, Mr. Ed McGinnis, who showed strong interest in Indonesia’s  progress towards nuclear power. Mr. McGinnis and Mr. Usman agreed that the two countries would take steps to increase cooperation in support of Indonesia’s nuclear plans with the understanding that a ThorCon demonstration power plant would most likely be Indonesia’s first step.
Meeting at DOE

Meeting at DOE From Left: Tom Blees (SCGI), Zulnahar Usman (head of KEIN delegation), Ed McGinnis (DOE head of nuclear power), BobEffendi (KEIN), Lars Jorgensen (CEO of ThorCon US)

5. At a recent meeting hosted by the Deputy Minister of Energy in Indonesia, a day long
review was undertaken by the various stakeholders in the Government and private industry regarding adding nuclear power to the country’s energy system.  A comparison of all offered sources of nuclear found ThorCon’s power to be 4 to 5 cents per kWh lower than the competition and the only clean source of non-intermittent power that was competitive with coal.  PLN, the national utility company, expressed its willingness to buy nuclear power if it was under 7 cents per kWh.  ThorCon’s willingness to provide power at this level was made clear to the Deputy Minister who expressed a preference for this low-cost option while at the same time acknowledging its unproven nature at commercial scale.