More on LFTR 

Guide to the Physics of Nuclear

Welcome to the ThoriumMSR Blog

The purpose of this blog is to keep a running commentary on Molten Salt Reactors and their relevance to Nuclear Power.

Why do we need THIS alternative energy source.  It’s more than Nuclear.  Thorium, if you have not heard is the next greatest nuclear fuel. How is it more than nuclear? You will see that it really is in a class of its own.

Thorium works best in a Molten Salt Reactor (MSR). Already this is “nuclear” jargon but MSR’s were discontinued back in the 1970’s even after getting some very impressive results. In fact, outside of the MSR, thorium is pretty useless (since I wrote this I have discovered that France, Japan and Russia have alse been experimenting with MSR successfully too and that India and Canada have experimented successfully with Thorium in solid fueled reactors but not as much energy is derived since less fission is produced because of modest burn up). So what word could replace “nuclear”. Clearly “nuclear” has got some bad press. So what do you do when something you believe can save the planet is shrouded in controversy.

Give it a new name. A bright young physics and astronomy major Kirk Sorenson came up with “Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) pronounced LiFTeR.” For three years now a fast growing group of scientists, engineers and enthusiasts who believe they have seen the light, have been active on the website discussing various ways to rebuild, redesign and promote the updated, once abandoned proposal. Why it was abandoned is very disturbing and brings to mind the plot for The Terminator where a single event determined the fall of civilization. It was because a Thorium MSR would not produce weapons grade fuel as a by-product so they were considered unworthy. Also the fact that large amounts of money had already been invested in Fast Breeder Reactors.

So the names not sexy. What can it do? The LFTR produces far less by-products than typical modern nuclear plants and is much cleaner since it efficiently uses nearly all of the fuel. This is due to the clever chemical manipulation of the various isotopes and the fact that the high heat makes for a more complete combustion. We get an amazingly small amount of nuclear waste. But what’s more amazing is that these reactors can effectively eliminate existing nuclear waste by using it for fuel and burning it efficiently. If that’s not enough to convince you LFTR’s can also be built smaller and cheaper than coal plants. Obviously if they could help save the planet from the horrendous waste so much of the world now creates using coal plants wouldn’t they already be in use.

You’ve heard of politics. The will of the people? Politicians like votes. Not only does the US have billions invested in the existing traditional nuclear industry but so does France, Russia and a few others. Well who wants a new technology to come along and make their own obsolete.

LFTR’s should be a high priority because they:

  1. eliminate the need for fuels that produce carbon emissions and in the words of Kirk Sorenson: “…while also removing one of the root causes of war. It’s true we fight to defend what we need. And for too long we have needed energy in the form of fossil fuels. And that needs to change. That is why the message of thorium-based power enabling US energy independence should be a priority.” It will also resonate well as a deterrent to allowing countries such as Russia from being able to bully other countries in need of their fossil fuels.
  2. can consume waste nuclear fuel. LFTR’s in the modern view are actually two Nuclear Plants in one. They can provide energy and burn up Nuclear Waste. Imagine if Pakistan, Iran and North Korea were introduced to this technology if it had been pursued back in the 1960’s when it was first proposed.
  3. safer and more stable since they don’t need to be pressurized. The molten salt when it gets too hot melts the “freeze plugs” and drains out to a cooling area that simply hardens and new freeze plugs are replaced. They do not require expensive containment or high pressure water containment so no possible meltdown.
  4. provide a means for third world countries to improve their economies by replacing high carbon emission methods with far cleaner technology and cheaper than coal plants and more efficient.
  5. are much more difficult or nearly impossible to produce nuclear weapons and the explanation is beyond the scope and patience of most of you readers.
  6. are less expensive than traditional reactors because the process does not require expensive containment. They run at high temperatures without being pressurized.
  7. thorium is abundant and stockpiles are already stored so very little if any mining is required in the short term and by the time we need to mine thorium there’s plenty of it on the moon.
  8. Robert Hargraves a professor from New Hampshire makes a convincing argument that it will lower the worlds population. The reasoning goes that having energy increases the standard of living which in turn increases the education which in turn brings down the population.
    energy=industry=jobs=education =birth control=population control
  9. can potentially assist in hydrogen production, heat buildings, help in the desalination process and other area that need high temperatures for processing.
  10. will produce far more energy than wind or solar power ever could while using up far less land.

Here’s a list of people who advocate LFTR’s and have spoken publicly about them. Robert Hargraves of New Hampshire wrote a book “Aim High.” William Tucker of New York wrote “Terrestrial Energy.” Kirk Sorenson of Alabamba runs the “EnergyFromThorium” website, Charles Barton of Texas has nucleargreen.blogspot .com and David LeBlanc of Ontario, Canada who recently did a “Google Tech Talk” presentation And my OKFrank Blog

With the Obama administration decision to form of a Blue Ribbon panel to find a solution to the nuclear waste problem the best thing right now to help launch this thing would be an article from someone like Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times or some other influential writer. The timing for pushing this has never been better. Like, try writing to congress or telling your neighbours. It’s all about understanding that nuclear energy doesn’t have to be bad. After all the earth was created as part of a huge natural nuclear explosion which generated the earth. And besides, didn’t you ever wish you could be The Terminator. All he wanted to do was to right a wrong that set the future of the planet into peril.

Well, letting the planet suffer the pollution from coal plants and fossile fuels can be solved by this new kind of nuclear reactor. Do your homework find out about this for yourself. Hasn’t it been too long since you updated your knowledge of nuclear physics. You have read why the LFTR shows great promise. You have learned a little about the hurdles in getting past public opinion and it will take more than just branding to bring about an alternative energy source that could save the planet.

More Information: Energy from Thorium 3 R’s


  • Pingback: The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR), a Possible Contendor for Nuclear Propulsion Systems | Propulsiontech's Blog

  • Herman de Jong
    July 14, 2017 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Dear Blogger,
    While reading the intro I got to paragraph 5 “So the names not sexy” and than quote:
    “This is due to the clever chemical manipulation of the various isotopes and the fact that the high heat makes for a more complete combustion.”
    This suggests that nuclear processes are caused by heat which they are not. They are governed by concentrations and collisions with cross-sections and effectiveness. Only indirectly are they influenced by thermal expansion, so concentration changes nuclear processes. Temperature effects the moderation of neutrons, but that does not play a role here on Earth. It is dominant in thermonuclear fusion in the Sun.
    Maybe the words heat and combustion suggest too much, that it is related to a chemical process. I suggest:
    The advantages with molten salt reactors are that used-up elements/isotopes can readily be replenished while converted elements/isotopes can easily be removed from the molten salts in a continuous process while maintaining the optimal constant mix for fission. This allows for optimized uninterrupted operation while keeping fertile- or fissile isotopes in the process.

    Otherwise I agree with the technical details.

    I would not advise any reference to historical conspiracy as it is hard to prove. Plain stupidity in decision-making is bad enough, especially if driven by short term political return while not considering other issues. We can suspect that N-weapons grade Plutonium production played a role but that is very hard to prove. Choosing for short term policy of “jobs for S-California” by president Nixon is understandable but oh so stupid, moreover it is proven and the weapon’s grade stuff is not (or give us a link).
    Keep up the good work, H. de Jong.

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