ORNL-SINAP FHR CRADA Colloquium
Joint Presentation by David Holcomb (ORNL) and Kun Chen (SINAP)
The Chinese Academy of Science’s (CAS) Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) and the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have recently entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to accelerate the development of fluoride salt-cooled high-temperature reactors (FHRs). The CRADA evolved from US–China interactions under a Memorandum of Understanding between the DOE and the CAS on Cooperation in Nuclear Energy Sciences and Technologies.
The CRADA supports and is funded by SINAP’s thorium molten salt reactor (TMSR) program. The overall purpose for SINAP’s TMSR program is to develop molten salt reactor technology to supply energy to the growing Chinese economy. As part of this effort, the TMSR program seeks to make use of China’s extensive reserves of thorium. Molten salt reactors generally fall into two types: dissolved fuel reactors in which the fuel is dissolved within the salt, and solid fuel reactors (aka FHRs) in which the fuel is a solid held within the reactor core. China is pursuing both dissolved fuel and solid fuel molten salt reactors. The CRADA is limited to solid fueled MSRs, but recognizes that nearly all of the technology developed will be applicable to dissolved fuel MSRs. The FHR test reactors currently being planned by CAS will use low-enriched uranium fuel.
FHRs have the potential to safely, reliably, and economically generate large quantities of power. The mission of the DOE-NE Office of Advanced Reactor Technologies (ART) is to develop and refine future nuclear energy concepts that have the potential to provide significant safety and economic improvements over existing reactor concepts. In support of this mission, ART has been supporting research and development (R&D) on FHR concepts and technologies for the past several years. ART is currently supporting FHR development primarily through its nuclear energy university program (NEUP). ART programs often employ international collaboration to leverage and expand R&D investments.
Both nations agree that MSRs remain at an early phase of development characterized by scientific research and exploratory engineering and with significant amounts of basic information common to any design still to be established. Also, both nations recognize that developing a common understanding of the safety characteristics and consequent regulatory requirements of the reactor class would decrease the development risk.
The CRADA is organized into a series of phases. The specific tasks in each phase will need to be approved by both governments. The approved first phase tasks are 1) to commission and ORNL’s liquid salt test loop and use it to perform pebble bed heat transfer testing, 2) to perform component evaluation and testing, 3) to provide analysis software support, 4) to develop and participate in international FHR training activities, and 5) technical information exchange on FHR supportive technologies.
About Kun Chen:
Kun Chen received his bachelor degree in applied physics from University of Science and Technology of China in 2001, and Ph.D. in nuclear physics and scientific computing (minor) from Indiana University in 2006. After graduation, he worked for Argonne National Laboratory as a postdoc and then as a staff member for four years. He joined Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) in 2011 and served as the group leader and then the director of the Nuclear Safety and Engineering Division.
He has been working on cold neutron sources and imaging in Indiana University. While working in Argonne as a nuclear engineer, he is responsible for radiation shielding and criticality safety analysis of the nuclear material storage and transport in support of DOE EM’s SAR review program. He also developed technologies for nuclear material package surveillance using RFID at Argonne. After joining SINAP, he is leading the efforts of the nuclear safety research and licensing of the thorium-fueled molten salt reactors program (TMSR). He is developing new methods and techniques for safety analysis of the TMSRs. His other interests include radiation protection, shielding, radiation monitoring, criticality safety, waste management and environment protection.
About David Holcomb:
David E. Holcomb has been an Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) research scientist for more than 20 years. Dr. Holcomb is the Department of Energy (DOE) national technical area lead for fluoride salt cooled high-temperature reactors (FHRs). Dr. Holcomb’s technical specialties are in FHR reactor design and evaluation, reactor instrumentation and controls (I&C), radiation detector materials, and sensors for harsh environments. Dr. Holcomb also currently represents the U.S. and serves as co-chair of the technical steering committee for the Generation IV International Forum on molten salt reactors. Dr. Holcomb is the U.S. principal investigator on the cooperative research and development project between ORNL and the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) on FHRs.
Dr. Holcomb holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from The Ohio State University (OSU) (1992), an M.S. in nuclear engineering also from OSU (1990), and a B.S. degree in engineering science specializing in engineering physics from Colorado State University (1987). Dr. Holcomb has also served as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the Nuclear Engineering Department since 1995. Dr. Holcomb is a current member of the nuclear engineering program advisory board for OSU. He is also a member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS), where he is a past chair of the Human Factors, Instrumentation, and Controls Division. Dr. Holcomb has served as technical chair (or co-chair) at ANS embedded topical meetings and for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) technical meetings. Dr. Holcomb also is a member of the advisory board for the U.S.-Czech Civilian Nuclear Power Cooperation Center. Dr. Holcomb has served as a member of the external review and assessment panel of SINAP at the behest of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Dr. Holcomb also chaired the international preconceptual design review panel on the SINAP dissolved fuel molten salt reactor. Dr. Holcomb holds six patents and previously served as the chair of the ASTM International subcommittee on fundamentals of temperature measurement.