Energy futureToshiba tests liquid sodium fast reactor

Published 26 February 2008

Toshiba notices the growing interest in nuclear power, and opens high temperature liquid-sodium test loop at its Yokohama Complex; company says it will enhance its sodium-related technology in readiness for future business expansion in this promising market

Rising oil prices, political instability in oil-producing regions, and worries about global warming have caused a renewed interest in nuclear power. This renewed interest has led to renewed thinking about nuclear reactor design. Here is an example: Toshiba Corporation has opened a new research facility equipped with a cutting-edge high temperature liquid-sodium test loop for conducting advanced research in essential technology for fast reactors, next generation nuclear reactors. The facility is located near the Isogo Nuclear Engineering Center (IEC), Toshiba’s main nuclear power business engineering center, in Toshiba’s Yokohama Complex. Through close coordination of key divisions, including R&D, design and engineering, Toshiba will accelerate improved development efficiency in sodium-related technology and equipment.

The test loop is one of the largest operated by any Japanese manufacturer in terms of flow rate and the heating and cooling capacity of liquid sodium, recognized as the preferred coolant for fast reactors. These characteristics allow the test loop to conduct simulations of sodium coolant at actual operating temperature and flow rates, and operation of the facility will provide Toshiba with essential data for fast reactor system design and verification of analysis methods. Toshiba also develops dedicated pumps, steam generators, and measuring instruments for liquid-sodium systems, and the test loop will be used to confirm their performance to specifications.

Toshiba says that as the world experiences a nuclear renaissance, resources are being channeled to accelerate development of fast reactors, which make efficient use of fuel resources. In anticipation of the transition to fast reactors, Toshiba says it will enhance its sodium-related technology, in readiness for future business expansion in this promising market.