Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor
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Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor
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.
Mark Halper of Smart Planet has the biggest news on Thorium Molten Salt Reactors in a long time. The rumors are getting bigger and more detailed. We started off with news of the Department of Energy (DOE) collaborating with Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) of China. But the latest news has several Universities and Westinghouse getting into the picture.
The MSR party is getting bigger!!!
ARTICLE: Mark HalperWestinghouse enters U.S.-China nuclear collaboration
I got back to Toronto late night (Friday June 1st/2012) and know that some TEA (Thorium Energy Alliance) members lingered behind to enjoy Chicago for an extra day or two. It was my first time to a TEA conference and also a first visit to Chicago. Both will have a very positive lasting impression on me.
I was proud to be among the largest turn out to date for a conference, 160 people. I would go so far as to say I hope we return there in the near future. The closeness of the lodging and the conference was a great comfort and to be in the heart of such a great city added a sense of excitement to an already exciting opportunity.
What was most noticeable was the presence of more start up Thorium related companies present and also on the list of guest speakers. Also there was more evidence of activist thinking and doing which was very encouraging. Jim Kennedy had a new and improved presentation along the lines of previously given talks that coordinated with John Kutsch to support a new bill to enable rare earth mining that has been unable to move forward because of outdated laws preventing the transport and refining of Thorium.
Among the regulars like Kirk Sorensen, John Kutsch and Robert Steinhaus I met up with David LeBlanc of Canada, Takashi Kamei of Tokyo and had a chance to ask a question to special visitor and speaker Baroness Bryony Worthington who founded the Weinberg Foundation.
The talks were captured on video by Gordon McDowell but may take a while to edit. But you can now look at all of the powerpoints at http://thoriumenergyalliance.com/
There are 5 or 6 countries that have an approximate 5 year plan for an MSR prototype. They are China, South Africa a joint venture between Australia and Czechoslovakia, maybe France and maybe Japan. And maybe the US. FLIBE Energy in the US is hoping for a deal with the Military which would let them get a prototype faster than waiting for approval and laws to be changed. The UK has interest too and may invest outside their country for their first shot. Information updates cam be found at http://thoriummsr.com or http://energyfromthorium.com and http://thoriumenergyalliance.com which is having their TEAC4 conference in Chicago May 31st and June 1st. The recent steps taken in US engineer John Kutsch is fighting to have a law changed that will allow mining of Thorium. The mining of rare earth metals is monopolized by China. It’s time for a change.
Japan had an interesting concept to power cargo ships with mini Thorium Molten Salt Reactors. They were being called Mini Fujis.
Another milestone is the creation of the Weinberg Foundation in England started with the support of Bryony Worthington.
ThEC12 will be held in Shanghai at the Hope Hotel, Shanghai, China October 29- November 1, 2012.
Atomic Insights has a discussion happening that has caught the attention of some of the unconverted old school nuclear advocates as well as some LFTR advocates.
The original post was meant to compliment Kirk Sorensen for his recent Google Tech Talk but now has over 150 comments.
Compliments to Kirk for answering an often difficult to answer question. With all of the advantages of Thorium why did it never take off? Much of the first part gets technical but it appeals to the initiated and technically aware nuclear advocates.
This additional comment is a highlight of the discussion by Robert Steinhaus who also is a regular commenter on the Facebook group EnergyFromThorium
I would like to thank Kirk Sorensen for providing a very excellent review of the history that surrounded the decision to abandon Molten Salt Reactor development .
It would also like to thank Atomic Insights Blog for featuring this recent Google Tech Talk and for making this information available to a broader nuclear interested audience.
I offer the following short quotes from ORNL Laboratory Directors that may also bear on this subject.
Question: Why wasn’t this (Thorium Molten Salt Reactors) not done?
Comments by Dr. Alvin Weinberg – ORNL Director (1955-1973}
1. Politically established plutonium industry –
“Why didn’t the molten-salt system, so elegant and so well thought-out, prevail? I’ve already given the political reason: that the plutonium fast breeder arrived first and was therefore able to consolidate its political position within the AEC.”
2. Appearance of daunting technology -
“But there was another, more technical reason. The molten-salt technology is entirely different from the technology of any other reactor. To the inexperienced, [fluoride] technology is daunting…”
3. Breaking existing mindset –
“Perhaps the moral to be drawn is that a technology that differs too much from an existing technology has not one hurdle to overcome—to demonstrate its feasibility—but another even greater one—to convince influential individuals and organizations who are intellectually and emotionally attached to a different technology that they should adopt the new path”
4. Deferred to the future -
“It was a successful technology that was dropped because it was too different from the main lines of reactor development… I hope that in a second nuclear era, the [fluoride-reactor] technology will be resurrected.”
ORNL Deputy Director H.G. MacPherson:
1. Lack of technical understanding -
“The political and technical support for the program in the United States was too thin geographically. Within the United States, only in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was the technology really understood and appreciated.”
2. Existing bureaucracy -
“The thorium-fueled fluoride reactor program was in competition with the plutonium fast breeder program, which got an early start and had copious government development funds being spent in many parts of the United States. When the fluoride reactor development program had progressed far enough to justify a greatly expanded program leading to commercial development, the Atomic Energy Commission could not justify the diversion of substantial funds from the plutonium breeder to a competing program.”
Another country recognizes the advantages of Molten Salt Reactor concept. Australia will join forces with the Czech Republic.
Kirk Sorensen has started a series of posts about his September trip to England. There has always been regret among Kirk and his supporters that Alvin Weinberg was not more recognized for his contributions to MSR research. Weinberg also developed the LWR which is the design behind most of the worlds reactors. Having the foundation launched is an exciting step and to be launched by Baroness Bryony Worthington does add significant credibility to all advocates for Thorium energy. Kirk describes the positive energy in the room and you can also sample that same positive energy when Baroness Worthington talks about the Nuclear industry in the UK at the House of Lords at Westminster.
Kirk Sorensen has recently contributed a couple of posts to the Blogs at Forbes Magazine.
This is his part two of A Simplified Nuclear “Waste” Digester
This is Kirk Sorensen’s comment on his Facebook group page EnergyFromThorium which has encouraged 60 interesting responses.
What garbage…a thorium reactor needs an accelerator like a fish needs a bicycle.
Robert Steinhaus has made a great contribution to the Nuclear energy cause and more specifically the LFTR cause with his regular posts on the EnergyFromThorium page on Facebook. I needed to add his latest post because it settles the issue of whether Molten Salt Reactors will suffer corrosion problems and therefore unlike what is often quoted that Steven Chu believes corrosion is the main reason it has not found support there really are metal alloys that will handle Fluoride salt in a Molten Salt Reactor.
Making Real LFTRs – ORNL releases a significant new publication on high temperature materials compatible with fluoride salts
Finding material with the required high-temperature strength and chemical compatibility with the fluoride salts is part of the quest to build real Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. To get the required combination of high temperature and corrosion resistance required for LFTRs operating at ~800 degrees C, cladding or coatings of materials can accomplish things that single alloy solutions cannot.
By cladding an ASME Type III structural alloy (Alloy 617 or Alloy 800H) with a corrosion resistant layer (perhaps Hastelloy-N modified with 1.5% Niobium) you can provide the high temperature strength and corrosion resistance that advanced high performance LFTRs will require.There are ongoing materials testing experiments underway at molten salt corrosion test loops at ORNL, University of Nevada, and University of Wisconsin. There are also molten salt material compatibility/lifetime experiments taking place currently in the Czech Republic and Russia as part of the GIF Gen-4 MSR effort. There are, unfortunately, no operating Molten Salt Reactors so it is not easy to measure simultaneously all of the aspects of corrosion and neutron damage in one test station to use to project material lifetimes.
At the time that Dr. Chu made his “corrosion” statement to the Senate in response to Senator Jean Shaheen’s question, Charles Barton wrote a fine Blog article in response entitled “Secretary Chu’s answer and the facts”
Many LFTR advocates thereafter wrote Dr. Chu letters to try to update his personal knowledge base on advances on LFTR materials issues (including yours truly) and we have polite DOE post card responses drafted by kind secretaries at the department to prove it. It is not clear what proof decision makers will accept to allow LFTR designers to get the corrosion monkey off of their backs and be allowed to build a modern LFTR prototype. (I personally feel that all of the LFTR corrosion and materials issues now have responsible answers permitting safe construction of low temperature [704 degrees C exit salt temperature] single fluid LFTR prototypes). The advances in cladded materials will permit safe construction of more advanced higher temperature and higher efficiency LFTRs.