Top Molten Salt Reactor Stocks for 2024: Ranked by Pure-Play Focus

Nuclear energy is making a comeback, and it’s not your grandpa’s nuclear anymore. Enter Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) – turning heads with the promise of safer, more efficient power with less waste. MSRs represent a promising leap in nuclear technology. For example, they can operate at low pressure with passive safety features, so they’re more resistant to meltdowns. They can also potentially recycle nuclear waste as fuel, bringing environmental benefits. While still early in development, MSRs are an exciting option for meeting future clean energy demands. In this guide, we explore the top molten salt reactor stocks, ranked by pure-play focus.

Note that most pure-play MSR companies are currently private, limiting investment opportunities to accredited investors or potential future IPOs.

Note: We make every effort to keep our information accurate and up-to-date. However, technology markets do move fast and company situations can change rapidly. Please use this guide as an introduction to the molten salt reactor landscape; but ultimately, do your own due diligence before taking action.

What Are Molten Salt Reactors?

Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) are a type of nuclear reactor that uses molten fluoride or chloride salt as both the primary coolant and, in some designs, the fuel itself. This is a significant departure from traditional nuclear reactors, which typically use solid fuel rods and water as a coolant.

Some key features and advantages of MSRs include

  • Liquid Fuel: The molten salt fuel allows for continuous refueling and online processing, potentially increasing efficiency and reducing waste.
  • Passive Safety: The liquid fuel expands as it heats up, automatically slowing down the nuclear reaction and reducing the risk of meltdowns.
  • Lower Pressure: MSRs operate at lower pressures than traditional reactors, reducing the risk of leaks and explosions.
  • Fuel Flexibility: MSRs can use a variety of fuels, including thorium, which is more abundant than uranium and produces less long-lived radioactive waste.
  • High Operating Temperatures: MSRs can operate at higher temperatures than traditional reactors, potentially increasing efficiency and enabling the production of hydrogen or other valuable chemicals.

However, MSRs also face key challenges:

  • Corrosion: The molten salt can be corrosive to reactor materials, requiring the development of specialized materials and designs.
  • Limited Operating Experience: While MSRs were researched in the mid-20th century, there is limited experience with operating them at a commercial scale.
  • Regulatory Hurdles: MSRs will need to meet rigorous safety and regulatory standards before they can be widely deployed.

Despite these challenges, MSRs hold great promise as a next-generation nuclear technology. They have the potential to provide safe, clean, and reliable energy while addressing some of the limitations of traditional nuclear reactors. 

How Far Away Are MSRs?

Some MSR designs are more mature than others. Companies like Terrestrial Energy and Moltex Energy are aiming for commercial operation in the late 2020s or early 2030s, while others may take longer. MSRs, like all nuclear reactors, require extensive licensing and regulatory approvals. This process can be lengthy and complex, varying across different countries and jurisdictions.

Most experts estimate that the widespread commercial deployment of MSRs is likely to happen in the 2030s or 2040s. However, some smaller-scale or niche applications may appear sooner. For example, X-energy is exploring the use of molten salt for energy storage, which could be deployed earlier than full-scale power generation.

Tier 1: Pure-Play Molten Salt Reactor Stocks

As mentioned earlier, there are still no publicly traded pure-play molten salt reactor stocks. We’ll update this list as private pure-play MSR companies IPO. For now, there are several private companies to keep an eye on:

Terrestrial Energy’s Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) is like a nuclear power plant in a box. They’ve put the entire reactor core, including the fuel and cooling system, into a sealed unit that can be swapped out when needed. This design could make the reactor safer, easier to maintain, and potentially cheaper to run. Terrestrial Energy is also ahead of the pack in getting regulatory approval. They’re the first MSR design to clear an important review stage with Canadian nuclear regulators.

Moltex Energy is blending old and new with their Stable Salt Reactor (SSR). They use molten salt fuel, but put it in familiar fuel rods like traditional reactors. This clever mix could help them get regulatory approval faster. Moltex is also working on a process to turn nuclear waste into fuel for their reactors. This would solve two problems at once: dealing with waste and creating new fuel. Moltex is looking to build their reactors at existing nuclear sites.

ThorCon Power is thinking big and fast. They want to build reactors like ships – in a shipyard, then float them to where they’re needed. This could make building reactors quicker and cheaper. ThorCon uses thorium as fuel, which is more abundant than uranium and produces less long-term waste. Their goal is to make nuclear power as cheap as coal, which could be a game-changer in developing countries.

Kairos Power is taking a “best of both worlds” approach. They’re combining pebble-bed fuel (tiny fuel balls) with molten salt cooling. This design aims to be super safe and efficient. The reactor can’t melt down and operates at low pressure, reducing accident risks. Kairos is methodically testing their design, starting small and scaling up. They’re working closely with national labs to speed up development.

TerraPower, founded by Bill Gates, is working on a Molten Chloride Fast Reactor (MCFR). This reactor can burn nuclear waste as fuel, potentially solving the waste problem while generating power. It can also create more fuel as it runs, stretching our uranium resources. TerraPower isn’t putting all its eggs in one basket – they’re also working on other advanced reactor types. The company has strong financial backing and partnerships with major players like GE.

X-energy is covering multiple bases in the advanced nuclear field. While their main focus is the Xe-100, a different type of advanced reactor, they’re also exploring molten salt technology for energy storage. This dual approach could help address both power generation and grid stability challenges. X-energy is also developing and producing TRISO fuel, a special type of nuclear fuel that could be used in various advanced reactors, including some molten salt designs. This diversified approach to nuclear innovation – spanning reactors, fuel, and energy storage – sets X-energy apart. 

Seaborg Technologies is thinking outside the box – or rather, inside a boat. Their Compact Molten Salt Reactor (CMSR) is designed to fit on a barge. This could bring power to coastal areas or remote islands without needing to build much on land. Seaborg has added some unique safety features to their reactor design, which could help with regulatory approval and public acceptance. They’re also looking beyond just making electricity – their reactors could produce clean fuels like ammonia.

Tier 2: Growing Stake in MSR Technology

These Tier 2 molten salt reactor stocks offer investors a way to gain exposure to MSR technology through more established, publicly traded companies. They balance the potential of MSR technology with the stability of broader nuclear industry involvement and other business lines. This could be attractive for investors who are interested in MSR technology but are looking for less risky options compared to the pure-play companies in Tier 1.

NuScale Power (SMR)

NuScale Power (SMR) is best known for its small modular reactor (SMR) design, but they’re not putting all their eggs in one basket. They’ve partnered with Fluor Corporation to explore molten salt reactor technology. Their approach is interesting: they’re looking at using molten salt as a coolant in their existing SMR design. This could give their reactors the benefits of molten salt (like better efficiency and safety) without completely reinventing the wheel.

For investors, NuScale offers a unique proposition. As a public company (NYSE: SMR), it provides easier access for investment compared to many pure-play MSR firms. It also offers a balance of established SMR technology with potential MSR upside. Think of it as a way to dip your toes into the MSR world while standing on the more solid ground of SMR technology.

BWXT Technologies (BWXT)

BWXT Technologies (BWXT) is like the Swiss Army knife of the nuclear industry. They’ve got their hands in everything from nuclear submarine reactors to medical isotopes. In the MSR world, they’re working on a few fronts. They’re part of a Department of Energy project to develop MSR technology, focusing on materials that can withstand the harsh conditions inside these reactors. BWXT is also developing its own MSR concept.

What makes BWXT attractive is its diversification. If you invest in BWXT, you’re not just betting on MSRs – you’re investing in a company with a broad portfolio in the nuclear sector. This could provide some stability while still giving exposure to cutting-edge MSR technology.

Fluor Corporation (FLR)

Fluor Corporation (FLR) is a global engineering and construction firm that’s making moves in the MSR space. They’re not building their own reactors, but they’re positioning themselves as the go-to company for building them. Fluor has partnered with NuScale Power on SMR technology and is extending this expertise to MSRs. They’re also involved in various other nuclear projects, giving them a wealth of experience in the field.

For investors, Fluor offers a different angle on the MSR market. Instead of betting on a specific reactor design, you’re investing in the company that could build many of them. It’s like selling pickaxes during a gold rush – no matter who strikes gold, Fluor could benefit. Plus, as a large public company with diverse operations, it offers a more stable investment option compared to pure-play MSR startups.

Tier 3: Key Suppliers of MSR Companies

Tier 3 molten salt reactor stocks represent the backbone of the nuclear fuel supply chain. While they’re not directly developing MSR technology, their products and services are essential for the operation of these reactors. For investors, these companies offer a way to invest in the potential growth of MSR technology with perhaps less risk than the pure-play MSR companies. They benefit from the current nuclear industry while also being positioned to capitalize on the growth of advanced nuclear technologies like MSRs.

The advantage of investing in these fuel cycle companies is that they stand to benefit regardless of which specific MSR design or company ultimately succeeds. However, it’s important to note that their growth is not solely tied to MSRs – their performance will also depend on the broader nuclear industry and, in some cases, other markets they serve.

Centrus Energy Corp. (LEU)

Centrus Energy Corp. (LEU) is like the gas station of the nuclear world – they provide the fuel that keeps reactors running. While they don’t build reactors themselves, their role in the fuel supply chain is crucial. For MSRs, Centrus is positioning itself as a key player in two ways. First, they’re working on producing High-Assay Low-Enriched Uranium (HALEU), which many advanced reactors, including some MSR designs, will need. Second, they have the expertise to handle the unique fuel requirements of MSRs, which often need different uranium enrichment levels than traditional reactors.

For investors, Centrus offers a way to benefit from the growth of MSRs without betting on any single reactor design. If MSRs take off, Centrus could see increased demand for their fuels and services, regardless of which company’s reactor design wins out.

Cameco Corporation (CCJ)

Cameco Corporation (CCJ) is one of the world’s largest uranium producers – think of them as the oil company of the nuclear world. While they’re not directly involved in MSR technology, their role in the uranium supply chain makes them a crucial player. As MSRs and other advanced reactors develop, Cameco is likely to be a major supplier of the uranium they need.

What’s interesting about Cameco for MSR investors is their scale and established position in the market. They have the resources to ramp up production if MSR technology takes off, potentially benefiting from increased uranium demand. For investors, Cameco offers a way to invest in the potential growth of MSRs and the broader advanced nuclear sector, while also having exposure to the current nuclear fuel market.

Energy Fuels Inc. (UUUU)

Energy Fuels Inc. (UUUU) is a versatile player in the uranium sector. They’re not just mining uranium; they’re also involved in processing and recycling. This diversity could be crucial for MSRs, which might require different types of fuel than traditional reactors. Energy Fuels are particularly interesting because they’re also involved in the production of rare earth elements, some of which are used in nuclear technology.

For MSR investors, Energy Fuels offers a unique proposition. They’re positioned to benefit from increased uranium demand if MSRs take off, but they also have their fingers in other pies that could be relevant to the broader advanced nuclear sector. It’s like betting on a company that supplies both the fuel and some of the materials needed to build the car.

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