Thorium Revival? A historic look at Alvin Weinberg’s Molten Salt Reactor Experiment
A ridiculous and short-lived US military requirement to build a “nuclear powered bomber” resulted in the most astoundingly safe and innovative nuclear power source ever invented. So why has this revolutionary design been almost entirely forgotten by history? What happened to the Molten Salt Reactor and the people who spearheaded this radical tangent in nuclear research? Kirk Sorenson and associates continue to peel back the layers of time from this gem in the history of atomic energy that was buried so long ago…
Oak Ridge National Laboratory was the home of Alvin Weinberg’s Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. The MSRE proved that a fission reaction in molten fluoride salts could be contained in Hastelloy-N, and that a molten salt fuelled reactor concept was viable.
Two prototype molten salt reactors were successfully designed, constructed and operated at ORNL. The Aircraft Reactor Experiment in 1954 and Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment 1965-1969. Both used liquid fluoride fuel salts. The MSRE demonstrated fueling with U-233 and U-235. Alvin Weinberg was removed from his post and the MSR program closed down in the early 1970s. Aircraft Reactor Experiment & Molten Salt Reactor Experiment remain the only molten salt reactors ever operated.