Thorium is a slightly radio active element (90th element) that is relatively abundant on earth and in the universe. I am a musician, pianist, composer who feels strongly about the role of Thorium as a nuclear fuel in a Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) and the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR). You are getting the perspective from an average citizen with no corporate connection and my apparent bias has come about from educating myself about nuclear energy. The progress in Nuclear Energy has been very slow largely because … the complexity of the subject. Average people get glossy-eyed and typically find the jargon and subject matter in general too complex and are unlikely to make steps to gaining a full understanding. This blog is setup to demystify both Nuclear Physics and show what direction Nuclear Power should be taking.

… There are a lot of reasons why Nuclear Energy has been slow to grow. Fear. greed and ignorance rank high among them. Politics, anti-nuclear environmentalists, regulations that are out of date and a generally poorly informed population.


  • Paul Sutton
    February 23, 2012 - 8:39 pm | Permalink

    Some questions

    To get a feel for the Li/Be fluoride mixture can anyone answer the following.

    Is the Li/Be mixture 2:1 by weight or by molecule count? Or is it not that critical?
    If you left the mixture alone for some time, would the two liquids separate?
    Apparently even though they have different boiling points of 1169 and 1676 degrees centigrade, they have a common boiling point of 1430 degrees centigrade in the mixture.
    This suggests to me that the two kinds of molecule enjoy some sort of relationship. What is this?

    The boiling points are well above the operating temperatures of the reactor. The point about the mixture is to do with the melting points. The same thing happens. The melting point of the mixture is different from the melting points of the two fluorides taken separately. Actually it is much lower, which is why the mixture is of value. A mixture with this property is apparently called “eutectic” What is the melting point of of this mixture in degrees centigrade?

    What is the operating temperature range of the lftr?

    I have seen it said that the Thorium fluoride and the Uranium fluoride are “in solution” in the LI/Be mixture. Is this correct? If not, does not the vast difference in weight between the active ingredient and the carrier lead to separation?

    I assume there must be a critical concentration of fissile material in the carrying fluid in order to sustain the chain reaction. What is this?

    I assume that the (inner) reactor in cylindrical form must exceed some minimum dimensions. What are those dimensions. What does this say about the size of the (outer) blanket cylinder?

    The expansion of the fluids with rising temperature is said to be sufficient to slow down a runaway reaction. That seems an awsome degree of fine tuning. Are there any numbers which can be associated with this statement (like coefficient of expansion and how this lowers the concentration of the fissile material. I guess we are talking about concentration with respect to a fixed volume of space, rather than relative to the carrier).

    Beryllium is pretty nasty stuff, apparently. How toxic is it. How toxic is it in fluoride form?

    The lithium has to be depleted of the Li-6 isotope (leaving Li-7) in order to avoid the formation (by neuton attack) of an isotope of hydrogen which would then form highly corrosive hydrogen-3 fluoride. I would have thought that the hydrogen, being ligter than anything else would make its way quickly to the top of the reactor, where it could be vented away.

    How does the system start up? Is there a space for the insertion of rods – eg for startup,
    or trans-uranic waste disposal?

    The U233 atom fissions whilst it is is still bonded to the fluorine component of the molecule. Does that mean that all the possible elements into which it might fragment are still in fluorine compound form? Gold fluoride for instace? Argon fluoride? Not possible. Do some of the resultant elements have to let go their fluorine partners?

    Thanks in advance

    I guess there must be some sort of critical concentration of the U-233 i

  • February 25, 2012 - 1:07 am | Permalink

    Paul –
    You have lots of fine (and rather technical) questions about LFTR and Flibe Salt Chemistry. These are, in the main, not questions that can be easily and quickly answered – almost every question would require some effort to carefully research.
    There is a natural place to ask questions such as you have asked (and I might suggest, consider breaking up your list into just a few questions at a time, because people that have the skill to answer questions such as you have asked typically have other duties and responsibilities and cannot reasonably dedicate hours of effort to answer just one questioner). That place to ask these questions is the Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum – http://www.energyfromthorium.com/forum

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  • Quick Facts: [Thorium Element 90 in periodic table] [Burns up fuel much more efficiently than traditional reactors] [leaves barely any waste behind] [3 x more abundant than uranium] [MSRs run at high temp in liquid molten mixture of fluoride - heat useful for purifying water] [looks like blue water] [no pressure needed] [much safer because of passive safety] [Less expensive to build because it is smaller and easier to build with no pressurized containment needed] [can run without water therefore good for dry and remote locations][molten salt is very stable]

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