Why Canada should Look at LFTR or DMSR

This recent article posted in news website Canada.com and this This is the new video (see below ) posted on youtube by Gordon McDowell
that was part of a Washington D.C. conference “Commercializing Small Modular Reactors for Domestic and International Markets” – July 18.19 2012, are indicators that the timing is good for Canada to become involved in next generation nuclear research and development.
At the panel discussion at the July 19th evening discussion titled “Public‐Private Partnerships to Commercialize SMRs” this video was provided.

The conference (see agenda pdf) had guests covering the flip side of light water reactors (LWRs) and with a focus on small modular reactors (SMRs.) For those less up to speed on nuclear technology SMRs have become a buzz word in the nuclear industry partly because of the need to lower costs of power plants and partly because of the realization of the benefits of using small reactors for smaller power needs such as local industrial usage and smaller communities. The LWR is what we all know as American and their influence is worldwide. They form the majority of reactors in the world although Korea, India and Russia and more recently China have developed HWRs with the influence of Canada. Canada has exclusively heavy water reactors. HWRs which are better at using unenriched Uranium and is a better fit for Thorium as a solid fuel. So the conference was focused on non-LWRs such as the molten salt reactors including LFTR and DMSR and some others including the Energy Multiplier Module and the Gen4 Module.

The panelists are Dr. Tim Birtch presenting General Atomic’s Energy Multiplier Module (waste to Energy converter), John Kutsch of the Thorium Energy Alliance on molten salt reactors (MSRs LFTR and DMSR)
and Bob Prince of Gen4 Energy (formerly Hyperion) who presents the Gen4 module.

How free is the regulatory system from political influence? This is the way to judge whether a country will support nuclear. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) just took a thrashing by Harry Reid because of their unwillingness to keep Jaczko as their chairman. This is really sour grapes and all the proof we need to show how the NRC does not make decisions independent of political influence. The fact is that Jaczko was there largely to prevent advancement of nuclear energy and to guaranty that Yucca Mountain stays closed which was a condition Harry Reid made when he conditionally offered to support Obama if Obama appointed Reids choice for NRC chairman.

Rumour has it that Canada’s CNSC is supportive of Molten Salt Reactor. There is good reason for the oils sands developers in Alberta to take a serious look at SMRs and particulalrly the LFTR proposed by FLIBE Energy and the DMSR proposed by David LeBlanc. The heat processing that is available from running such a reactor is cost effective and much less harmful to the environment. With the pressure on Canada to conform to some kind of standard on CO2 emmissions it makes sense to improve the methods of oil extraction.


  • August 5, 2012 - 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Rick, I isolated some of John’s comments here…

    …it doesn’t include everything pertaining to Canada so this version might just be something to keep in mind rather than a replacement for your current link.

    • thoriumm
      August 5, 2012 - 4:49 pm | Permalink

      Gordon. It’s great what you are doing.I imagine you are still quite busy working on the Thorium Remix documentary. Good luck.

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  • Dr Timothy Norris
    November 30, 2012 - 3:50 pm | Permalink

    It is good that MSR based on Thorium is being investigated. Thorium MSR offers many advantages in comparison to nuclear reactors utilizing Zirconia-clad or Stainless Steel-clad solid fuel rods with sintered fuel pellets therein (e.g. load following, less eventual nuclear waste, possibility of elliminating stockpiles of existing nuclear waste by transmutation processes, better reactor control characteristics), but Thorium MSR has certain operating difficulties which should be appreciated. Many of the operating problems will be addressed by design resulting from R&D efforts in the next few years.

    Thorium MSR operation employs very high neutron flux. Moreover, FlIBe is very corrosive at high temperatures. Moreover, Thorium MSR’s in operation are very radiologically “hot” and emitting very hard Gamma radiation. Hastelloy N has been suggested as a material of choice for fabricating core and blanket tubes within the reactor core and also for the blanket containment, but has problems coping with the neutron flux over a longer period of operation. This means that Thorium MSR (for example LFTR) reactor structures have a relatively limited lifetime before needing to be replaced. Alternative materials are being developed in various parts of the World as recently reported at conferences, namely to employ Silicon Carbide composite for fabricating reactor parts. However, even Silicon Carbide composite suffers from enbrittlement as a result if high neutron flux exposure. To allege that this problem of neutron flux and corrosion has been solved would be incorrect. When Admiral Rickover specified that US nuclear submarines should operate with solid fuel nuclear rods in their reactors instead of a MSR configuration was in part a political deicison, but was also an issue of getting a working reactor quickly deployed by adopting a solution that sat most comfortably with available materials for reactor construction. Clearly Thorium MSR requires a lot of materials research to be undertaken in the coming years. However, it is likely that satisfactory material-choice solutions will eventually be achieved for Thorium LSR (LFTR). Enthusiasts for Thorium MSR/LFTR should be realistic about these material issues; merely assuming the Hastelloy N is the “magic bullet” for constructing Thorium MSR/LFTR is an oversimplification and shows lack of deep understanding of the materials issues involved in Thorium MSR technology.

    I would like us to be powered by Thorium MSR, but respectfully suggest that one should not underestimate the R&D involved, namely many billions of US $’s R&D.


  • January 29, 2013 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this update of information. I have been doing lots of work doing calculations for the USA to convert all existing coal fire plants to LFTR Nuclear Reactors. It would have a capital cost of 1.6 Trillion according to my calculations. Which can be seen here http://rawcell.com on the front page.

    I have created a United States “We the People” Petition which needs 100,000 votes to be addressed by the administration. I would appreciate you passing out the word.

    The Petition is for a 6 month study to determine the efficacy and end to end costs of such a conversion plan.

    Here it is http://wh.gov/VZM5

  • Dr Tim Norris
    July 21, 2013 - 11:02 pm | Permalink

    Hi Steven

    Many thanks for your contribution above. The LFTR is startegically very important technology as it provides the only practical way of transmuting highly dangerous contemporary nuclear waste (for example containing P239 and Antinides) into transmuted material which only requires circa 300 years storage before normal handling can be undertaken. Burying conventional nuclear waste in geological formations for 500000 years is not really a viable solution; human civilization may not even last that long.

    However, in view of the amount of DU spread in various places in the World in munitions, and the circa 500 tonnes of highly dangerous waste at Fukushima Dai’ichi exposed to the environment, we have probably “screwed up” the planet Earth already, so many people would say “what have we to lose”? The story of Genesis int he Bible pertains: mankind ate of the Tree of Knowledge and has now destroyed God’s paradise. This is the reality, and yet our politicians continue like a bunch of drunk gamblers at a casino. The Japanese Government now desires to restart 10 nuclear reactors in an earthquake-prone region of the World. Heaven help us ! The insanity of our leaders is astounding.

    Thorium LFTR is what we need, and needs a concerted effort at national and international level to try to sort out the present appalling mess.

    Kind regards


    • admin
      July 22, 2013 - 2:47 am | Permalink

      Hi Tim

      I like most of what you say but I am not as worried about Japan restarting their reactors as you appear to be. Japan has learned their lesson from the rare tsunami. I do not agree that the result of Fukushima is so life threatening.

  • Timok
    February 28, 2015 - 9:38 pm | Permalink

    Dear Steven

    Three reactors t Fukushima Dai’ichi have suffered thermal runaway, and their coriums have now burnt through their inner containment, and through the reactor building foundations via self-made lava tubes and are heading for the water table. Spontaneous criticalities are occurring as the coriums burn down. Fukushima Da’ichi site is rapidly becoming a radioactive swamp, and the severe biological damage to the Pacific Ocean is now becoming very apparent. However, you say that you are not worried, and that starting 10 nuclear reactors in an earthquake-prone region (i.e. Japan) of the World is not a concern. I wish I shared your optimism. I fear the situation is rather more dire than you suggest. Even Thorium LFTR have various failure modes, and to think that Thorium LFTR are somehow “divinely blessed” and will never give operational problems is rather naive. However, I foresee that Thorium LFTR, via transmutation, may be the only way we will rid the World of high-level nuclear waste. The USA has 77000 tonnes of such waste, and Japan has 17000 tonnes of such waste, some at the Fukushima Dai’ichi site; this waste requires at least 100000 years safe storage. One perceived solution is to dump spent nuclear reactors off the coast of Norway, as the Russians have done, as recently reported in the Norwegian press, so that the nuclear waste therefrom can be incorporated into Norwegian salmon stocks.

    I wish I had your optimism, or am I simply too realistic?

    Kind regards


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