Building on Existing Technologies for a Commercial Prototype Within a Decade
Transmutex is pioneering an entirely new type of nuclear energy that promises scalable carbon-free energy without the traditional challenges of existing nuclear plants. Today’s issues with nuclear energy are safety, long-lived waste, and proliferation. Transmutex will allow significant improvements on all these matters, while delivering cost competitive carbon-free energy.
Subcritical Transmutating Accelerated Reactor Technology: START
Instrinsic safety: subcriticality of the core makes the reaction stops within 2ms of the accelerator stopping
Waste burning: burns long-lived nuclear waste up to 20x more per unit of energy than any other reactor
No water: molten-lead is the primary coolant, requiring no water.
Gathering the best of available technology
Time is ticking for new solutions to tackle effectively the climate crisis. Year after year we have broken records of CO2 in the atmosphere as measured by NOAA. We plan to move fast by using available, proven, technology elements and assembling them in an innovative manner. We have no time to "reinvent the wheel." Several technologies are available off the shelf, which will allow the fast implementation of START. We are leading a global coalition of the most respected research institutions from around the world, together with leading-edge industrial companies to design, test, and implement the START.
The key technical piece of the technology is the use of a proton accelerator to generate a high-intensity neutron source that induces the transmutation of thorium into an the uranium isotope U233 which produces energy as it breaks up, leaving only an infinitesimal amount of long-lived radioactive waste in the process.
As soon as the accelerator stops, the process stops, making safety a core characteristic of the system.
More than 30,000 particle accelerators are in operation around the world today; they are mostly used in hospitals for medical purposes. Transmutex will be the first to employ this technology for energy production on an industrial project.
The subcriticality of the reactor avoids the possibility of the core melting, as has occurred in previous nuclear accidents. The system operates at near atmospheric pressure, and is equipped with passive heat removal, thus preventing gas explosions of the Fukushima or Three-Mile Island type. Security by design is essential to reducing costs of licensing’ construction and operations, with the savings resulting in an overall cost reduction of electricity production. It also avoids explosion risks associated with the liquid sodium used in previous research reactor projects.
"Burning" existing long-lived radioactive waste
Waste is the number one popular criticism against nuclear energy, ahead of safety in some polls. Through the use of thorium-based fuel, the START technology will be able to reduce the amount of long-lived radioactive waste that is currently awaiting long-term storage.
A key feature of START is the ability to transform the most dangerous and long-lasting radioactive wastes from the current nuclear industry into shorter lived waste, going from 300,000 years to 300 years, a x1000 times reduction in lifespan. This will drastically reduce the amount of radioactive waste to be stored in special long-term storage deep underground.
Because of its limited footprint, the system could be deployed at operating or decommissioned nuclear sites to both generate power and eliminate the need for radioactive waste transport.
Thorium: a residue of rare-earth mining and coal power plants
START can use uranium or thorium as fuel, offering great flexibility in access to resources. Thorium will probably be the fuel of the future. This low-radioactive metal is found all over the world. In fact, scientists estimate that it is responsible for half of the Earth's core heat, which in turns creates the magnetic field enveloping our planet and protecting it from harmful cosmic rays. It is the protector of the earth. Thorium is currently a useless by-product of rare-earth mining, but is also plentiful in the coal ashes of power plants.
Current applications of thorium are very limited due to its radioactivity, even if it is very, very mild. Therefore most thorium has been waiting in storage for future use… such as energy production in a START !
Advantages of START
Transmutex proposes a breakthrough carbon-free energy process, based on a major innovation for carbon-free energy production at scale, that would be inherently safe, produces only short-term waste, is proliferation resistant and is cost competitive. It would also help reduce the stockpile of existing long-lived radioactive waste produced by traditional nuclear plants.
Moreover, the START will use liquid gas instead of steam to generate electricity, and no water for cooling. It will be extremely respectful of our scares water ressources.