National MSR Project

Thanks to its active role in the SAMOFAR project, FIGES has accumulated vast experience in the fields of nuclear power and new-generation nuclear technology. Building upon the experience, FIGES conducted further research and R&D activities in these fields, which showed that the MSR technologies provide an extremely helpful solution to various problems, including Turkey’s energy demand and reducing global carbon emissions. This idea is now well-rooted in every department of FIGES. Keeping this idea in mind, FIGES organized numerous information/presentation meetings where we shared our knowledge and experience and highlighted the importance and advantages of investing in this field in Turkey all the while engaging in advanced autonomous design and development efforts thanks to the engineering assets held within the company.

NUCLEAR ENERGY IS AN IMPORTANT ALTERNATIVE

An Overview of the Energy Supply and the Need for Nuclear Technology in Turkey

There are 30 countries around world generating electricity from the nuclear energy.

SHARE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY IN THE TOTAL ELECTRIC PRODUCTION OF SOME COUNTRIES:

NUCLEAR ENERGY IS CHEAPER THAN OTHER RESOURCES

US EIA estimations of 2017-2022

RESOURCECENT USD / KW.H
Natural Gas

5,7-10,9

Coal (carbon capture)

14

Nuclear (conventional)

8-10

Wind (land)

5,2

Wind (sea)

14,6

Solar PV

6,7

DEPENDENCE ON EXPORTS IN THE ENERGY PRODUCTION: ENERGY SUPPLY SAFETY AND CURRENT DEFICIT

In 2018, 50% of the electricity generated in Turkey was supplied with the imported coal, NATURAL GAS + LPG.

The share of energy within the total exports has reached up to 20%, which corresponds to USD 43 Billion.

NUCLEAR ENERGY, THE ONLY SOLUTION FOR THE CLIMATE CHANGE

The only way to prevent the climate change is to reduce carbon gas emissions.

CARBON EMISSION PER EACH kW.h OF ELECTRICITY GENERATED (grams)

Turkey’s annual carbon emission is 330 million tons, 180 million tons of which originates from coal.

WHICH NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY? 4TH GEN REACTOR TECHNOLOGIES

In the field of nuclear power of today, 3rd gen reactors are the most commonly used. But the 3rd gen cannot be the national reactor technology of Turkey for several reasons including:

  • 3rd gen reactors are old with a technology that is not thoroughly known.
  • There are only a couple of designs used all around the world, which cannot be further developed in the current state.
  • Giant nuclear companies monopolized technology.

The fuel needs of the 3rd gen reactors will have to be supplied by 3-4 foreign companies for 5 long decades which will create foreign dependency for energy. Also, fuel production is a complex and expensive technology that require high capital investment.

Moreover, the investment and operation costs of the 3rd generation reactors have increased immensely due to safety problems: 4,6-7,2 bn USD=> 1000 MW-e reactor.

WHAT IS THE NEW-GEN REACTOR?

Melted Salt Reactor (MSR) is the 4th Gen Nuclear Reactor technology that runs on Melted Uranium-Thorium salts and is selected by Gen IV International Forum (GIF).

As of 2019, the installed capacity of Turkey is around 91.3 GWe, from all resources (Source: TEIAS data). Approximately 45.8 GWe corresponding to 50.1% of the installed capacity is based on fossil fuels (natural gas, lignite, domestic-imported coal, other petroleum products).

On the other hand, most primary energy resources used in both electricity generation and other sectors belong to imported energy resources. As of 2018, 51.2% of all the electricity consumed in Turkey is generated by imported fossil sources such as natural gas, coal, and LNG (source: TMMOB).

In terms of total energy supply, dependency on foreign sources (raw petroleum, natural gas, coal and similar) reaches even higher values: 75.7% import resources, 24.3% domestic resources (2017 data).

Regarding the carbon dioxide emissions in the context of the fight against climate change, Turkey’s total carbon dioxide emission increased from 277.3 million tons in 2008 to 390.2 million tons in 2018, showing a 41% increase in a decade. However, the increase rate of carbon dioxide emissions was 11% at a global scale (source: BP Stats Review). This situation is a direct result of fossil-based energy generation practices in Turkey.

Concerning financial results and implications, the largest share of the total energy raw material imports belonged to the natural gas and raw petroleum (53.3% corresponding to 23 Billion USD cost) in the year 2018 with a total energy resource import amount of 45 billion USD for the same year. Examination of the general economic conjuncture in the recent years, the imports of the primary energy resources do not fall under 20% of the total imports with increases that can reach up to 50s% at times.

This shows that Turkey still depends on foreign markets in electricity generation and consumption of other energies. Recognizing this fact, the Governments in Turkey have been trying to diversify the sources to ensure that dependency does not lie with a single country or a group of countries; to reduce the use of fossil-based energy and incentivizing domestic techniques to be used in energy generation.

In this respect, in the early 2010s, nuclear power plants have been introduced in the agenda to ensure diversity, to transfer high technology and to improve quality in electricity generation, and therefore relevant agreements were signed.

However, the nuclear reactor technology stipulated in these arrangements represent:

  • Gen III & III+ reactor technology,
  • Inflated cost concerning the reduction of nuclear safety risks (~4000 USD/kWe),
  • High construction times (4-7 years)
  • Problems concerning transportation and storage of nuclear waste,
  • High dependency on foreign countries concerning the production of nuclear fuels.

Also, these reactor technologies are at a level that is not very suitable for domestic production.  It means it is a difficult and time-consuming process to acquire the technology out of these reactors to produce domestically.

A New Gen Reactor Technology For Turkey

THE MSR TECHNOLOGY WILL IMPROVE TURKEY’S REPUTATION AND SIGNIFICANCE ON THE GLOBAL SCALE 


The only way for Turkey to have nuclear power is through the establishment of the MSR technology.

It is clear that the countries with nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel technology have political significance on the global scale.


Turkey’s own resources of thorium will be converted into energy resources.

Additionally, major contributions will be added to the country’s economy with great initiatives in the fields of multi-disciplinary engineering, material sciences, and nuclear technology.


One of the most notable features of the new gen MSR is that it can use the long-term wastes of the Gen III and III+ reactors (i.e., Akkuyu) as fuel in addition to thorium and uranium.

Moreover, the molten salt reactors produce 300 times less waste than it utilizes.

TURKEY LAYS THE GROUNDWORK FOR THE MOLTEN SALT REACTORS WITH THORIUM FUEL CYCLE.


In 2018, the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) applied to become a member of the Gen IV International Forum (GIF).

GIF responded positively to Turkey’s membership and requested the groundwork for the Molten Salt Reactors be laid. The studies are currently on-going.


The EU-funded project EVOL is a Molten Salt Fast Reactor with thorium cycle and it has been underway since 2001.

The project has reached its final stage. TÜBİTAK-FİGES got involved in the designing works in 2017 (the project group also involves the Kurchatov Institute of Russia).


The first Molten Salt Reactors using thorium was put into practice in the USA between 1965-69. Turkey has the necessary strength and knowledge to design and build a similar MSR. 

FİGES of Turkey has made significant contributions to the EU-funded MSR project with its heat exchanger design.

THE MSR CAN BE DESIGNED IN ALL SIZES AND CAPACITIES WITH HIGH SECURITY.


Without making any significant alteration on the design, it is possible build an MSR with the capacity of 50 MW-thermal and 3000 MW-thermal.


The Molten Salt Reactors with thorium fuel are extremely SAFE because:

  • Internal reactor pressure is 1 bar, instead for 150 bar as in PWRs.
  • It is equipped with an automated working system that does not require human intervention. With the expansion vessel, extreme heating and cooling can be physically prevented.
  • No nuclear core melting (serious accident) due to extreme heating, which is observed in the 3rd gen reactors, does not happen as the fuel is already molten.

APPLICATIONS of the MSR

Generating Heating Energy for the Industrial and Domestic use, as well as Electricity

The conventional reactors can only be used for generating electricity since the temperature in these reactors is 50% lower compared to those of MSR.


Generating Hydrogen

Cheap hydrogen production for the fuel batteries of the 2nd gen electronic devices.

Generating Methanol and Ammonia

Clean fuel production for the vessels.

    Converting salt water to drinking water and generating heating energy for the industrial and domestic use.


    For Defense Industry

    Nuclear naval base, engine power for the battleships.

    R&D and CONSTRUCTION STAGES OF THE MSR, TIME PERIOD AND COSTS

    STAGE 1

    R&D, technical design, location arrangement, construction of the supporting plants, first instalment works, and preparations.

    Time Period: 3 years

    Cost: USD 50 Million

    Public Sector Financing

    STAGE 2

    Production of the prototype, thorium mining, uranium supply, construction of the two units (100 MW-thermal and 300 MW-thermal), testing, licensing (NDK-TAEK)

    Time Period: 5 years

    Cost: USD 650 million

    Public + Private Sector Financing

    STAGE 3

    Construction of the commercial power plant.

    Time Period: 5 years

    Cost: Approximately USD 1-1.6 billion for 1000 MW-thermal capacity.

    Private Sector Financing


    The preparations are still underway around the world to launch small-size commercial MSRs.

    The unit cost of the electricity to be generated from the MSR is estimated at USD 2-4 cent/kW.h.

    However, there are certain requirements to develop the national nuclear reactor technology:

    • To reduce the dependence on imports regarding the reactor fuel and fuel production technology.
    • To increase the national contributions and human resources on the reactor design and operation.
    • To develop the national production technology to produce the reactor components domestically with the advanced technology.
    • To use a nuclear fuel cycle with safe, secure, and simplified structure that can be attained through the national resources and will enable the reactor to generate energy for at least 60 years.
    • To summarize; the 4th generation is the foundation to make the switch to an innovative and “green” nuclear reactor technology.

    The nuclear reactor technology that meets the criteria is currently available; the “Molten Salt Reactor with Thorium Fuel.”

    A Technological Move to Solve Turkey’s Energy Problem– National MSR Project by FİGES

    In addition to suggesting the MSR system to be adopted as the domestic and national reactor technology, FİGES continues to fund the design works in this field. With the sub-system designs and system simulator projects, FİGES has begun introducing the concept of its design. Within this scope, the company relentlessly continues its concept development activities for several different areas of use in addition to its R&D studies, since 2016.

    Development Activities for the National MSR Project

    Until now, FİGES has carried out sub-system designs and computations. Moreover, the company has performed parametrical studies to choose the suitable power and system for its reactor concept. In the meantime, the studies are being conducted to develop a simulation software compatible with the level of this system. The purpose of this simulator is review, observe, and study the conceptual reactor’s behavior under normal operating conditions and certain emergency scenarios. In addition to the thermal-hydraulic and neutronic calculations, the reactor’s lifecycle and safety analysis will be identified by conducting structural strength analyses.

    FİGES’s projected MSR reactor will be situated at the center of an integrated system and allow for generating heat and/or electricity depending on the needs of various purposes.