Molten Salt Research Highlights at The University of New Mexico
Abstract: In this talk, we discuss the potential of molten salt technology as a transformative solution for nuclear energy transfer and storage, addressing its applications in high-temperature energy generation and industrial heat processes. Molten salts, recognized for their unique properties, offer significant advantages for low-pressure, high-temperature applications, with the capability to operate at temperatures up to 750°C. However, they present engineering challenges due to their high melting temperatures and corrosive nature. We will explore the design, modeling, and experimental testing of advanced molten salt reactors, including safety systems, i.e., reactor cavity cooling system (RCCS) and freeze valves, and the development of critical components such as molten salt pumps, heat exchangers, and thermal energy storage systems. The outcomes of our research at The University of New Mexico will directly contribute to the reliability, safety, design, and operation of molten salt-based advanced reactors. Lessons learned in designing high-temperature experiments and practical experiences to highlight the path forward in harnessing these salts for efficient, reliable nuclear energy transfer and storage will be shared.
Bio: Dr. Minghui Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of New Mexico (UNM). Prior to his joining UNM, he was a research fellow of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Dr. Chen earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Nuclear Engineering from The Ohio State University (OSU) in 2015 and the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor in 2018, respectively. Dr. Chen’s research has focused on experimental thermal-hydraulics including separate and integral effects tests. In particular, his group has designed and executed experiments to investigate the performance of high-temperature systems/components for Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs), Fluoride-salt-cooled High-temperature Reactors (FHRs), and High-Temperature Gas-cooled Reactors (HTGRs), and to demonstrate the reliability of their passive systems. He has published over 60 peer-reviewed journal and conference publications. Dr. Minghui Chen is an inaugural winner of the Distinguished Early Career Award granted by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy.