ADSCMSR (Accelerator Driven Sub-Critical Molten Salt Reactor)

What is an ADSCMSR?

The idea for this Accelerator-Driven Sub-Critical Molten Salt Reactor (ADSCMSR), as it is known, has been sitting on nuclear physicists’ drawing-boards for the past 20 years. The reactor has some high-profile fans, including Nobel Prize winner Carlo Rubbia, ex-director general of Cern. International firm Jacobs Engineering is developing its own version of the technology.

The ADSCMSR uses a particle accelerator to help generate the neutron that thorium must acquire to become fissile.


The accelerator drives a high-energy proton beam into a lead target embedded in the centre of a nuclear reactor filled with thorium. As the protons slam into the lead, neutrons are chipped off and convert thorium in the reactor to uranium-233. Depending on the target material, each proton can chip off about 30 neutrons, and it is these same neutrons that trigger fission in the uranium-233. With this type of a reactor you don’t need a chain reaction like in other reactors.

Without a nuclear chain reaction to control, operators could effectively switch off the reactor by flicking the switch that shuts off the proton accelerator. Shutdown would not be instant – fission would continue and decay heat from the radioactive products produced in the process would remain, but non-invasive control of the reactor would be possible.

How does an ADSCMSR Work?

Of the 3 options for creating energy from thorium (solid fuel in conventional reactors, liquid fuel in molten-salt reactors, or fuel in accelerator driven subcritical reactors), Stuart Henderson of Fermilab explores the accelerator driven approach.



Muons is an American company in Batavia, IL that is working to develop the Accelerator Driven Sub-Critical Molten Salt reactor.

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