Serpong – BRIN Public Relations. Nuclear energy as the fuel for Nuclear Power Plant (PLTN) is a new energy that is environmentally friendly, has low emissions, and is considered capable of meeting the increasing demand for electricity. The National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) through the Nuclear Energy Research Organization (ORTN) continues to carry out research and development of nuclear technology for nuclear power plants.

Molten Salt Reactors or known as MSR, is one type of nuclear power plants that is considered safe and economical to be applied in Indonesia. Acting Head of the Nuclear Reactor Technology Research Center, ORTN BRIN, Topan Setiadipura explained about MSR.

“This fourth generation nuclear power plant is very economical, has a high level of safety, minimal nuclear waste, and is proliferative. These four things are the characteristics of the fourth generation reactor, one of which is the MSR,” explained Topan in the Webinar held by the Indonesian Electrical Engineering Experts Association (IATKI) IEL-33 Engineering Lecture, under the theme Nuclear Energy, Saturday (26/3).

Unlike other types of reactors which mostly use uranium fuel, MSR uses thorium as the main fuel. According to Typhoon, MSR is the most promising fourth generation nuclear reactor, which uses liquid salt, and can operate at high and low pressures.

“MSR safety is generally good, not dependent on electricity. This means when there is no electricity like what happened in Fukushima, the reactor can independently save itself, called passive safety feature,” he added.

Topan emphasized that nuclear power plants can be a boost for other fields to develop, such as industries and education. In realizing MSR, there are of course challenges that must be faced.

“In general, the fourth generation reactor has challenges in realizing the design concept. These challenges will enable us to collaborate and settle problems so as to have success,” he said.

Topan said further, BRIN has cooperated with PT. Thorchon Indonesia to carry out research and development, as well as innovation in the nuclear field, especially Thorium MSR technology. This research and development are expected to produce a prototype as a candidate for nuclear power plant technology in the future.

“BRIN and PT. Thorchon Indonesia have signed a memorandum of understanding. The aims and objectives are to carry out R&D and innovation in the field of nuclear energy, particularly Thorium MSR technology. This research and development are expected to produce prototypes as technology candidates for nuclear power plants,” he said.

Meanwhile, member of the Expert Council of the Indonesian Electrical Society, Arnold Soetrisnanto, gave an additional explanation of the potential of thorium which is greater than uranium. But it turns out that uranium is mostly used as fuel for nuclear power plants. Thus, the thorium nuclear power plant, which had previously been used, is abandoned because it is not popular. Now it starts to be looked at again as a future nuclear power plant as it is safer. This relates to political problems in the world which are different from that the 50-60s when nuclear power plants were developed.

“There had been a thorium nuclear power plant before, but it was unpopular, so it was abandoned. In the era of the 50-60s during the cold war between the Soviet Union and America, the competition was not only in nuclear power plant technology, but also the use of nuclear as weapons, technology of nuclear weapons, namely plutonium. Uranium is more popular because uranium produces plutonium, and this plutonium is separated to be used for nuclear weapons,” explained Arnold.

“The fission reaction of thorium does not produce plutonium, so it is safer and has greater potential than uranium, especially since Indonesia adheres to peaceful politics,” he added.

Arnold also conveyed the potential for construction of a thorium-fuelled MSR reactor in Indonesia. Thorchon developed a thorium nuclear power plant, made a basic design in America and now wants to develop it further, in collaboration with Indonesia. Thorchon and BRIN collaborate to make the first MSR prototype.

“The only company that has entered and opened a branch in Indonesia and plans to invest in Indonesia is Thorcon, which brings MSR technology with its thorium energy,” concluded Arnold (yrt, la/ed: tnt).