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Special Seminar: Salt Fission and Fusion Reactors with Heat Storage to Boost Revenue and Replace Fossil Fuels

September 19, 2019 @ 10:00 am - 11:00 am

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Dr. Charles Forsberg
Principal Research Scientist
Nuclear Science and Engineering
Massachusetts Institute of Technology



Technical breakthroughs in fusion and advances in liquid-salt reactors has resulted in fission and fusion systems that use the same coolant: Flibe (Li2BeF4). This synergism is expected to accelerate development of fission and fusion systems.

The development of new more-powerful magnets can shrink fusion machine size, reducing costs and increasing the power density in the fusion blanket. The high power density and high magnetic fields creates incentives for flibe salt blankets that can operate in this environment. The Fluoride-salt-cooled High-temperature Reactor (FHR) uses HTGR fuel with a liquid salt coolant to boost power density, lower costs, and enable delivery of higher-temperature heat to the power cycle. The chemical and neutronic requirements for the coolant resulted in flibe being the preferred coolant. This same coolant is used in molten salt reactors where the fuel is dissolved in the coolant. Other salts are being developed for Concentrated Solar Power.

Changes in electricity markets have created incentives to add heat storage to nuclear reactors to enable variable electricity from base-load reactors. The economics of heat storage favor reactors that deliver high-temperature heat. Doubling the hot-to-cold swing in storage cuts heat storage in half. Higher temperature heat storage implies higher heat to electricity efficiency. The leading candidates for heat storage systems are salt storage systems. Unplanned, unexpected technology and market changes have created massive synergistic incentives to develop salt technologies.


Dr. Charles Forsberg research areas include Fluoride-salt-cooled High-Temperature Reactors (FHRs) and utility-scale heat storage including Firebrick Resistance-Heated Energy Storage (FIRES). He teaches at MIT the fuel cycle and nuclear chemical engineering classes. Before joining MIT, he was a Corporate Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and recipient of the 2005 Robert E. Wilson Award from the American Institute of Chemical Engineers for outstanding chemical engineering contributions to nuclear energy, including his work in waste management, hydrogen production and nuclear-renewable energy futures.  He received the American Nuclear Society special award for innovative nuclear reactor design and is a Director of the ANS.. Dr. Forsberg earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota and his doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from MIT.  He has been awarded 12 patents and published over 300 papers.


September 19, 2019
10:00 am - 11:00 am
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