WHEN you think of nuclear power, the first image that comes to mind probably is not a laboratory in Birchwood.

What might spring into your imagination is Homer Simpson handling a glowing rod of uranium, or a great dirty cooling tower spouting tonnes of steam, smog, and smoke.

If that's the case, I can only apologise for smashing that mental image almost immediately.

Warrington Guardian: The lab in Birchwood is a hub of activity, and is ever-growingThe lab in Birchwood is a hub of activity, and is ever-growing (Image: Newsquest)

There's a revolutionary nuclear power laboratory right here in Warrington, and it's in the heart of Birchwood.

MoltexFLEX is based in Rutherford House, on Birchwood Park, and they are revolutionising how we should be thinking about nuclear power.

To some, nuclear power is synonymous with the horrific meltdown that occurred at the Chernobyl power station in 1986, but it has been widely accepted that that meltdown was a result of human error, rather than an error in science.

One of the straplines of Moltex is 'safer, cleaner, cheaper' and that's exactly the kind of energy that the company is focused on.

I was told by scientists at the laboratory that to generate all the power that one person will use in their entire lifetime, all that could be produced by using the equivalent of just one gummy bear-sized piece of uranium.

Without getting too bogged down in nuclear physics, Moltex is using molten (liquid) irradiated salt to generate heat to create steam to turn turbines, which generates power.

This is different to the usual method that would involve metallic pellets, rather than liquid salt - the pellets would also produce harmful gases during the process of generating power.

If there was a leak at a power station, those gases could enter the atmosphere, which would see radiation blown across the area on the wind.

Warrington Guardian: The physicists use chemistry to ensure that the salt does not corrode the metal components used to generate powerThe physicists use chemistry to ensure that the salt does not corrode the metal components used to generate power (Image: Newsquest)

However, Moltex uses liquid salt - which remains solid even at 500 degrees celsius - which means if there would ever be a leak (something that is highly unlikely) all that would escape the station would be salt, something easy to clean up.

The energy generated by this form of nuclear physics is incredibly cheap to store, compared to energy stored in batteries for example, and does not generate byproducts that are harmful to the environment.

This nuclear energy is also incredibly efficient - as it stands, 98 per cent of all nuclear waste still has energy to be harvested, which means that using more efficient ways of harvesting that potential allows for greater amounts of energy to be generated.

Lots of research is undertaken at Rutherford House, with mounds of specialist equipment to conduct experiments, some of which are one-of-a-kind in the whole world.

Warrington Guardian: The whole team are working to revolutionise the nuclear sectorThe whole team are working to revolutionise the nuclear sector (Image: MoltexFLEX)

CEO of MoltexFLEX, David Landon, told the Warrington Guardian that we should be looking at mass-producing nuclear power by using liquid salts because we do not know 'when the next Ukraine-style incident will happen, causing an energy crisis.'

David added: "What we want to do is create clean energy at a far cheaper rate.

"This form of energy is renewable, and it doesn't rely upon the sun shining, or the wind blowing - it's ultra-reliable."

So next time someone mentions 'nuclear power,' cast your mind to the hardworking team at Moltex, in Birchwood, who are working around the clock to generate environmentally-friendly power; clean power; cheap power.

They are working miracles, and are true champions of industry in Warrington.

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