A s a representative of the Atomic Energy Commission, which i s supporting the development of molten-salt reactor technology, I have agreed t o describe "the place of molten-salt reactors i n the AEC program." As a matter of fact, t h i s i s very e a s i l y done by reference t o the 1962 AEX Report t o the President, which delineates the objectives of t h i s Nation's reactor development programs. I n discussing the program f o r the longrange future (i.e., the development of breeders which w i l l W l y u t i l i z e nuclear resources), the Report s t a t e s i n part: "Although breeding i n the thorium-uranium 233 cycle can build upon experience gained with l e s s advigorous and specific e f f o r t s w i l l be required t o a t vanced reactors t a i n breeding on a significant scale. Both f u e l and blanket systems must be pushed. Attention should be directed a t methods of continuous removal of f i s s i o n products, including the use of f l u i d fuels (such a s Fused uranium salts) and blanket materials. Experimental reactors designed t o breed must be b u i l t and operated. Hopef'ully, within the next several years, the program w i l l achieve the stage where operating prototypes w i l l be appropriate
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From t h i s statement and the AEC support of the molten-salt program here a t OHNL, it i s evident t h a t the AEC looks t o molten-salt reactor technology f o r the near-term accomplishment of breeding on a significant scale i n the Th-233U cycle. There is, of course, no obvious reason why molten-salt technology could not be developed f o r f a s t breeding i n the uranium-plutonium cycle, and perhaps t h i s w i l l someday be done. The s a l t system t h a t has been developed here, however, quite naturally lends i t s e l t o thermal breeding i n the Th-233U cycle; and it i s the objective of t h i s program t o develop and demonstrate a reactor system which w i l l exploit t h i s capability. Although the forthcoming operation of the MSRE w i l l not achieye t h i s objective alone, it i s an exceedingly important and necessary step toward the goal. The MSRE, being a s m a l l single-region machine; i s not designed t o breed, but it does t i e a l l the pertinent technology developed thus far together i n t o a relatively simple operating system. Its operation i s expected t o supply the information and confidence needed t o proceed with the next and, perhaps f i n a l , step of the demonstration program: the design, construction, and operation of a two-region thermal breeder sufficiently large t o permit scale-up t o commercial sizes. It w o u l d be wishrul thinking t o suppose t h a t there w i l l be no "bugs" i n the MSRE a s designed and b u i l t . The history of reactor development suggests t h a t there w i l l be bugs or minor d i f f i c u l t i e s unfomseen i n design o r caused by errors i n construction. These are unwanted but are more or l e s s expected. It i s also possible t h a t operation of the MSRE w i l l uncover some t r u l y unexpected major problems. I personally do not expect any, because the technology base t h a t has been worked out f o r the MSRE i s very broad and thorough. I n my view the MSRE i s much b e t t e r off i n t h i s respect than has been the case f o r some past reactor experiments.