Indonesia ThorCon 3.5 GW fission power project

The plan for introducing liquid fission power to Indonesia has two parts. Phase 1 is to build and test a 500 MW ThorCon, with step by step commissioning, ending in an approved type license for future power plants. Phase 2 is shipyard production of ThorCons to help Indonesia’s utility company provide an additional 3 GW of cheap, reliable electric power to support economic development.

Design, pre-fission testing, ThorCon build/test, 3.5 GW commercial production

Design. Much of the design phase has been completed, computationally modeled, expressed in 2D drawings and 3D CAD models, and shared with potential suppliers. Suppliers’ cost estimates for future production versions are compatible with company estimates of electricity production costs of 3 cents/kWh prior to profits and government fees.

Pre-fission construction. The company will build a pre-fission test facility (PTF) at full scale, including the components of the fission island and the thermal power conversion chain. The fuel salt will not contain enriched uranium and will not sustain a chain reaction to generate power. The components will be brought up to operating temperatures using electric heating. The absence of radioactivity allows intrusive instrumentation, direct observation, and internal access to components.

Pre-fission testing. Extensive testing will include operating pumps at full temperatures and pressures, freeze valve drains to drain tanks, actuation of shutdown rods, and instrumentation. Engineers will measure thermal expansion, confirm heat transfer rates, verify thermal hydraulics characteristics, test sensors, transfer molten salts between the Pot and fuel casks. System responses to simulated failures will be monitored closely.

PreFission Test Platform
Full scale ThorCon reactor Pot, in Can, in cold wall, all 3 molten salt loops, dry cooler.

ThorCon construction. The 500 MW power plant will be built in a world-class shipyard experienced in high-quality, cost-competitive steel-working. ThorCon will rely on the yard for detailed design outside the Can, production scheduling, and much of the equipment purchasing functions. The shipyard will be ThorCon’s EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) contractor. The expensive, massive, precision supercritical steam turbine-generator must be pre-ordered to achieve the one-year shipyard build time. ThorCon will be towed to the Indonesia near-shore site prepared with breakwaters and seawater cooling piping and a connection to the PLN electric power grid.

Power up. The testing protocols developed with the PTF will first guide similar pre-fission testing of ThorCon. Working closely with Indonesia’s nuclear regulator (Bapeten) and expert test approvals committee (TAP), ThorCon engineers will proceed with step by step commissioning, fueling the plant, bringing the reactor to zero-power criticality, then increasing power levels as testing confirms safe, effective power generation.

Stress tests. ThorCon is designed to react safely to many operational events and failures. Demonstrating safety is important to public acceptance of fission power. Test examples include sudden loss of load, overheating the fuelsalt, losing all water in the cooling pond, and failure of shutdown rods. These tests are possible because of multiple layers of defense in the design. The TAP must pre-approve all such tests, continuing the step by step commissioning process.

Production. When testing is successfully completed, the company expects Indonesia’s Bapeten regulator to refine its regulations and issue a type license citing the design is safe for similar future power plants. Indonesia’s PLN will sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) with the company, which will build, install, and operate 3 GW of additional ThorCon power plants. The PPA will enable financing with traditional loans. As these plants are put into operation the company expects world-wide orders for such shipyard-constructed power plants that deliver nonstop electric energy cheaper than coal.