A Novel Impeller for the Transformational Challenge Nuclear Reactor Program

Kairos Power is developing a new advanced reactor technology that can transform and revolutionize the energy industry. The Kairos Power Fluoride-Salt-Cooled High Temperature (KP-FHR) reactor will utilize TRISO fuel in a pebble form combined with a low-pressure fluoride salt coolant. Since 2019, Barber-Nichols has been working with Kairos Power to design and develop technology for the primary salt pump, responsible for flowing molten salt coolant through the reactor core pebble bed to extract the energy used to create electricity.

The 3D metal impeller designed by Barber-Nichols for Kairos Power and printed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory Credit: Kairos Power

A critical feature of the pump was the impeller’s design, which was required to fit within a constrained envelope not typical for a pump operating in this performance regime. This impeller was printed in metal through a partnership between Kairos Power and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). This effort was part of the Transformational Challenge Reactor, a demonstration program striving to build a functional nuclear microreactor using 3D printing technology.

Barber-Nichols is proud to be a part of this groundbreaking technological challenge and is now developing the primary salt pump used as a large-scale test demonstrator for the KP-FHR reactor.

-Post by Tanner Furno, Senior Engineer at Barber-Nichols