PROS and CONS List

by the presence of Thorium

2. Higher neutron leakage

3. Weakly positive temperature coefficient, can be fixed but at large cost

4. Pa removal needed unless both thorium and 233U loading increased substantially

David notes,
Point 3 above is important to discuss. A positive temperature feedback coefficient is generally a bad thing for any reactor design. It is not as serious as may be thought however since the positive term results from effects of the graphite which will lag behind any temperature increase in the salt by tens of seconds at least. Original ORNL work thought it to be slightly negative, recent French studies have shown that to be mistaken. This was mainly due to older calculations treating the graphite and salt mix as homogeneous. In order to solve this problem without destroying the ability to breed, French proposals have gone the route of having an extra Thorium blanket around the core (radial only, not axial). This make it a partial 1 and 1/2 Fluid reactor.

The problem which has been the focus of much attention by French researchers, is that ORNL’s single fluid MSBR had a safety flaw in the ORNL one fluid design that if not corrected, could cause loss of control in the ORNL designed one fluid MSBR. This flaw is probably not fatal, but the French seem anxious to not simply replicate ORNL research, so they have made a big deal of it, and at any rate some, but by no means all, reactor design specialists are concerned enough to write off the one fluid graphite moderated MSRs.

ORNL reactor scientists were not all in agreement on the superiority of the single fluid MSBR design. Many continued t0 believe that the two fluid approach offered advantages.

Also see George Lerner’s Blog on the downsides of LFTRs

More Cons for the Dual Fluid Design also post at Nuclear Green


* Interlacing of fuel and blanket salt within core is the “Plumbing Problem”
* Blanket salt has positive temperature/void coefficients
* Need for extra heat transfer loop for the blanket salt (5-10% of heat load)”

in the meantime Charles Barton has started a series on Molten Salt Reactors which in general are about Thorium Molten Salt Reactors. He covers the PROS and CONS of each.


  • Joe Heffernan
    May 3, 2011 - 6:16 pm | Permalink

    Dear ThoriumMSR,

    I think that Thorium MSR reactors are a great idea. I see that you haven’t completed the cons list yet. I am still fairly new at Thorium MSR but I might bring a fresh view of the cons of Thorium MSR.


    In some Thorium MSR Protactinium 233 will be removed and sequestered for a period of time until it decays to Uranium 233. I understand that this would make it possible to have a pure quantity of Uranium 233 which is fissile and could be formed into an atomic bomb.

    In my opinion a significant reason that the Thorium MSR is not going forward is that once it is built the vendor is unlikley to be able to have long term recurring revenue. Current PWR vendors have significant recurring revenues related to selling new fuel elements.

    Corroion issues are likely to be probematic

    How to keep the rediactive gases produced such as Xenon from escaping before they have decayed to stable elements.

    As I say I am a keen supported of Thorium MSR. I am also a University Lecturer and I know how difficult it can be to write things up.

    I hope you have found the above useful.

    Joe Heffernan

    • Russ Ilk
      April 5, 2014 - 2:07 am | Permalink

      I too am very new to the pros and cons of TMSR as a source of energy. However as you might guess from my e-mail address I am no stranger to pros and cons of using various contoversial materials (pesticides) and processes.

      However when you look at the extensive list of pros you mentioned I think like you probably, wow why hasn’t this process been studied and restudied over and over since the early 60’s. Well that apparently becomes a political and economic issue more so than whats good for the country as a whole issue. This seems best illustrated by some of the materials and tapes available regarding how Pres Nixon and the I think, Adm, in charge of the Nautililus Sub project were able to stop the TMSR research in its tracks.

      Additionally your con regarding long term revenue is quite telling. While this most likely is true I ask is it right? Should the welfare of our planet be looked at in profit and loss terms. Don’t we at the very least risk putting off implementation of programs that will greatly improve our planet until it is to late or very difficult at best to reverse the effects of continued population growth and the negatives associated with this growth.

      So yes there are cons but when I consider the density of energy produced I to become a big supporter of TMSR. And the potential contained in the list of pros only strengthen that support. Add to it the options of continued reliance on fossil fuels or the misguided belief that renewable solar or wind power can be relied on to impact future energy demands I say lets get going on overcoming the cons while making TMSR a significant contributor to the world energy solution.

      • R. S. Hunter
        July 16, 2015 - 9:16 pm | Permalink

        The name of the Admiral in charge of the US Navy nuclear propulsion project was Rickover.

        • Dan Solitz
          February 18, 2016 - 3:42 am | Permalink

          Ex Navy nuc

  • thoriumm
    May 3, 2011 - 11:02 pm | Permalink

    @Joe Heffernan Yes. The cons are not so clear. Partly because of the nature and wide array of design solutions that have been discussed among the engineers and advocates. I was thinking that contributors like your self might pitch in some ideas. And you have. Thanks.

    The Protactinium decays naturally in 27 days to U233 and that is considered one of the admirable outcomes of the Thorium Cycle. The design would need to include ways to process that and most of the community I have exchanged ideas with agree it is easy to manage. Kirk Sorensen has also suggested that a second Chloride molten salt fast reactor could accompany the Fluoride molten salt thermal reactor to enable fuel preparation since the Thorium Cycle does require a fissile startup fuel such as U233.

    One other con is that so few people exist who are trained in this specific aspect of creating nuclear energy. A significant workforce would take time to create.

    Corrosion has various solutions too such as the Big Lots Reactor concept of burning the fuel at lower temperatures to give more life to the core and moderator however the trade off is less efficient output. But since the output is already 200 times greater than those running the Uranium Cycle this is not such a big sacrifice.

    • James Allmond Sr
      January 27, 2016 - 7:25 pm | Permalink

      With the current shortage of viable employment here in the US, it seems that someone in the administration would build a fire under training programs that might lead us back into the Thorium lead. It would behoove us to have trained personal here instead of relying on foreign partners to supply the personal necessary to implement this technology.

      • Frank Eggers
        January 27, 2016 - 11:26 pm | Permalink

        One of the problems is that most politicians are afraid even to mention the word “nuclear”; they see it as the kiss of political death. Until or unless the public can be convinced that nuclear power need not be dangerous and that it is essential to reducing CO2 emissions to acceptable levels, that fear will remain.

        • Rick Mott jr
          June 20, 2016 - 2:08 am | Permalink

          I work in nuclear power stations as an electrician. Would absolutely love to get in on ground floor of thirium nuclear power facility construction. The politics are a huge issue. Our representative joe Sestak in Pa initiated legislation to start thorium test funding was shot down by everyone. Of course the others voting are funded by fossil fuel industry and they fear them and the public who fear anything nuclear because of their complete ignorance of science. Sestak was of course voted out. Probably because he didn’t get fossil fuel support money after his and me t trying to find thorium.

  • Michael
    July 11, 2011 - 7:39 am | Permalink

    Nuclear Engineering graduates have not even heard of the concept so bad luck if you were hoping to employ them direct- but there would be quite a few chemical engineering graduates with at least a similar background.

    Complying with strict Tritium emission requirements is tough as it get into the heat fluid chain.

    Hard to get past politicans and bueacrats understanding of nuclear=uranium=solid fuel or perhaps plutonium- i.e. what’s this thorium stuff?

  • Jonathan Wyers
    November 10, 2011 - 3:08 am | Permalink

    I’m a nuclear undergrad, and I’m for LFTRs. Hire me!

  • fmg
    May 30, 2012 - 8:22 am | Permalink

    how does one get in contact with you

  • Ulli
    May 30, 2012 - 1:58 pm | Permalink

    There is one big open point:
    The concept requires a well working reprocessing – currently there are mainly untested concepts. So the question is still open if it is possible to make reprocessing work at reasonable costs and without producing lots of waste. It has to be very much better than the currently used PUREX process – if not, performance of a LFTR would be awful. And don’t think reprocessing is just a small chemists lab: having the whole fluid go through several times a year, so it has to be quite powerful – maybe comparable to something like the half the Sellerfield plant in the UK. So the reactor may be cheap, but we just don’t know how much the reprocessing will cost. On the other hand, if reprocessing really works as well this may be a major proliferation concern – not only getting Pa233 but also Pu239 from a reactor running on normal LEU.

    p.s. Running a LFTR under water or even on board a ship is a really bad idea: the reactor may be a good design on land, but it is just not compatible with water. Much of it’s advantages come from avoiding water. The fuel salt is not suited for long term or intermediate storage: like in the MSRE reactor experiment it would disintegrate and very likely get set free in case such a ship would sink. Keep in mind: the U-233 is about as nasty stuff as plutonium is.

  • Jonathan Wyers
    May 31, 2012 - 9:16 pm | Permalink

    My email is

    I’m at the Thorium Energy Alliance conference in Chicago right now. Are you as well?

  • July 26, 2012 - 5:09 pm | Permalink

    Reprocessing LWR waste to use it as LFTR fuel has been mentioned by several of the scientists. It is simpler than the LWR industry is using.

    Fast Spectrum Molten Salt Reactor Options ORNL July 2011 has a section on “Front–end processing system options for used LWR fuel”, covering the chemistry. (Yes, MSRs can be thermal or fast spectrum.) The Executive Summary section says:

    “A light-water reactor (LWR)–transuranic burner can either make use of centralized fuel reprocessing or use much of the infrastructure of its fuel processing system to directly accept used LWR fuel, avoiding the need for a separate reprocessing plant. In addition to helium sparging to extract the gaseous fission products and mechanical filtering to remove the noble metal fission product particles, a fluoride salt–based FS-MSR would employ fluoride volatility and reductive extraction processes to separate the fission products from the fuel salt. Chloride salt–based reactors would employ electrochemical separation, zeolite ion-exchange capture, and chloride volatility processing. In either case, longer-lived fission products could be returned to the salt for fast neutron destruction, albeit with relatively low efficiency because of their primarily thermal absorption cross sections. As the separated fission products have relatively small volume, they can be left in salt form and allowed to solidify and decay in short-term storage.”

    Your “proliferation” comments are a valid concern, but technically not how things work. The Pa and Pu always stay in the reactor, too radioactive and temperature hot to easily steal, and stealing fuel would shut down the reactor. There is never a Pu stockpile produced. “In the context of proliferation resistance, FS-MSR fuel has a uniform isotopic concentration of actinides, including highly burnt plutonium or uranium isotopes along with other minor actinides and fission products. The local fuel processing of the breeder and burner configurations eliminates the possibility of diversion during transport. The fission-product–saturated fuel salt of the minimal fuel processing converter reactor is highly self-guarding during transportation. Further, the transport casks are massive because of the required amounts of shielding. In general, diversion of molten salt materials is difficult. The reactor operates as a sealed system with an integrated salt processing system that is technically difficult to modify once contaminated. The hot salt freezes at relatively high temperatures (450–500°C), so it requires heated removal systems. FS-MSRs operate with very low excess reactivity. Loss of a significant amount of fuel salt would change the core reactivity, which could be measured by a well-instrumented reactivity monitoring system. During operation (with the exception of deliberate fissile material removal for a breeder or addition for waste burner), the fissile materials always remain in the hot, radioactive salt.”

    Anybody with the technical ability to handle molten fuel could more easily make plutonium the way the USA made the first usable amounts of plutonium, (see Wikipedia “X-10 Graphite Reactor”), hidden away somewhere.

    You don’t remove Pa from a 2-fluid MSR, such as LFTR. The % of Pa that would absorb extra neutrons in the blanket salt is low enough to ignore. Only a problem in a 1-fluid MSR.

    When you say things like “if not, performance of a LFTR would be awful”, maybe you could say “compared to what”. Awful compared to a LWR’s 1% use of the fuel? I dont think so. Remember, fluoride volatility extracts uranium very effectively, and is currently used in making LWR fuel (it works, and equipment is NRC-approved). The entire LWR-waste processing system isn’t tested, but the components are, in different industries; the LWR industry isn’t close to handling nuclear waste the “best way”, they make too much money making nuclear waste and storing it.

    We would want to also take care of the remainder of the LWR waste, but getting the uranium is all that is needed for fueling the LFTR. (Also take out the transuranic elements, and store LWR waste for 400 years not 400,000 years. Then separate the short-halflife elements, and over 80% of the LWR waste only needs to be stored for 10 years.)

    I don’t know what you’re referring to by “not compatible with water”; I have seen several scientific reports showing the fuel salt doesn’t react with water, and “normal salt” NaCl from sea water is one of the possible MSR salts.

    Short term the fluoride salt contains the fuel and most of the fission products well; several scientists mention the actinides are strongly chemically bound to the fluoride salts. I don’t know if LFTRs would be better or worse than LWR if the fuel came into contact with sea water, but LFTR would be much less likely to have major problems than LWR (e.g. no loss of coolant accidents, no hydrogen explosions), and at least Navy-level LWR safety and operation procedures have had no problems, but fine, let’s keep LFTR away from commercial ships. (We can power ships with LFTR-produced gasoline or diesel, since high heat + CO2 + H20 = gasoline).

    Corrosion could be an issue if the chemical balance is incorrect. But we do know how to keep several of the candidate salts from corroding the metals that would be used. That’s not a “problem”, just part of proper operation of the reactor. (The corrosion problems noticed in the MSRE were solved before the experiment was ended. One of the corrosion “problems” was micrometers a year, the solution is “make the metal thick enough”.) Plus there are numerous modern materials that should be even better, but need to be tested.

  • Ulli
    October 4, 2012 - 3:11 pm | Permalink

    At the current state of development pyro-reprocessing highly radioactive waste is very expensive and not perfect. The process used for the EBR metal fuel also rather simple and somewhat similar to that planed for a MSR. The estimated cost are about $3000 per kg of heavy metal. You can do the math what it costs to process 10 t a day. There is certainly some improvement possible, but we would need a lot of it.
    Also separation is far from perfect: if 1 % of the thorium is going to waste every cycle (a value the Russians (more advance than the US in this field) hope to reach in the near future) roughly 30% of the thorium goes to waste every year when a 10 days cycle is used. With an inventory of some 60 t for 1 GW plant that is 18 t going to waste and about 1 t is used. That is about the same 5% fuel usage as claimed for the uranium cycle.

  • brendan
    October 14, 2012 - 12:31 am | Permalink


    the EBR reprocessing you refer to is not even vaguely similar to the reprocessing planned for any MSR, making your first statement a simplistic fabrication. As your first statement is the assumption upon which the remainder of your argument rests, quite simply the argument makes no sense at all.

    As to the rather fantastic claim that 1% of the thorium would be lost in each reprocessing cycle, the thorium is not reprocessed at all in a 2 fluid MSR (the only design with fast paced processing cycle), making your claim an absolute fantasy. Thorium is only ever added to the system. Only 233Pa is extracted from the blanket & later added back following its decay to 233U.

    In a single fluid MSR, there is a choice to employ fuel cleaning, or not. In the DMSR concept, that cycle if employed would be on a cycle of longer than 10 years, making your estimate grossly over the top. The usual suggestion is a once only reprocessing with this type of converter reactor, reprocessing all the heavy metals to the next reactor cycle, with loss of 0.1% to waste.

  • Ulli
    October 26, 2012 - 5:26 pm | Permalink

    The EBR processing is similar in the way of using molten salts for reprocessing. Reprocessing by pure fluorine volatility (FREGATE from Russia + Techeceslovacia) gives similar, maybe slightly lower cost estimates. So hoping for much lower cost is possible, but for now this is wishful thinking. Currently there is not even a plan for working unit, so serious cost estimates are impossible, and we just don’t know how much ends up in the waste. Comparing with other pyroprocessing is about the best we can do for estimates of costs and performance. It’s not that I know that the MSR reprocessing will be so expensive, it is just that we can’t take for granted that is will be so much (e.g. a factor of 1000) cheaper than current technology. The estimate with 1% loss is to illustrate that a low performance reprocessing (still not so far from the current state of the art) will give a poor performance for the whole system. Even with only 0.1% loss and a 10 day cycle something like 2/3 of the thorium would end up in the wast. This is far from the often claimed 98% fuel usage.

    The fast 10 days (or similar) cycle is needed if one wants to effectively separate Pa in a single Fluid LFTR. The 1 fluid MSBR design did specify a 10 day cycle – its just that removal of the rare earth elements was assumed to be only partially effective. Without Pa removal one would either need a rather large fissile inventory (e.g. 3 times more) or some other improvements in neutron economy to archive breeding. The DMSR without reprocessing is such an example: large inventory, still rather far of from breeding and without recovery at the end also sends most of the thorium to waste.
    The French group also turned towards a fast spectrum MSR, and thus much less need for reprocessing – this is because they too have doubt on the feasibility of fast reprocessing
    (see xarchiv 0506004v1).

    A 2 Fluid design could work with relatively slow (e.g. 1 year) and simple reprocessing, but there are other difficulties (barrier and complicated plumbing) – so it was canceled for good reasons.

  • Grant
    November 21, 2013 - 2:35 pm | Permalink

    Looks like the biggest CON is that :-

    The private sector will not fully invest in this technology

    Mainly because it is being presented as a long term Investment (30 Years) & subject to .Gov restrictions that could effectively destroy any profit margins during this time / (they have not fully reaped the initially budgeted profits from fossil fuels yet).

    Does anyone agree?

    Can I ask people just to take a moment & try and imagine what a POST ENERGY SCARCITY Society would look like!!!!.

    Personally I would task/reward/encourage every University in the UK to produce a working Thorium Reactor model every year.

    Take this winner and start building the real thing in such a way as you can swap out the core for any better designs that follow.

    Personally I think Energy Security is too important to leave in the hands of the private sector, they will just end up promoting energy scarcity (increases profits) & holding us all to ransom. (O Wait, they already are)

    • Alex
      August 9, 2015 - 1:12 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your comments, I think we have to be blind, ignorant or simply brainwashed by the media, government and large corporate businesses who’s own self serving interests come before that of the common man.
      This tech is already proven to be safe and controllable, well beyond that of other nuclear. If abundance of cheap energy is available then that changes the landscape, we no longer need to insure future oil and coal supply, so no need to tear up other countries and pursuing these ends.
      So I would think the out take here is not just profit, it runs much deeper.
      What bothers me most is that government’s like mine in the U.K. seem to be doing nothing to advance this tech. I have heard rumors that $1B would be enough to have a production like facility that would be able to produce modular systems in approx 10 years. A fraction of what well be spent on arms and conflict by the U.S. in that same period.
      How it’s it possible?

    • September 4, 2015 - 5:30 pm | Permalink

      A large part of the problem, which has not been adequately addressed, is that the anti-nuclear crowd has the politicians afraid even to mention nuclear power. If our (U.S.) government were committed to developing a superior nuclear technology, such as the LFTR, it could find ways to make it happen and to be deployed. I am convinced that many of our politicians are well aware that developing a superior nuclear technology is imperative, but they see it as political suicide even to mention nuclear power.

      The media are also afraid to mention nuclear power. The media make their money by selling advertising and the amount that advertisers are willing to pay depends on audience size. If the media were to cover nuclear power adequately it would irritate some people in the audience thereby causing audience size to shrink resulting in less advertising revenue. Besides, entertaining the audience results in a larger audience size than informing the audience.

      Before adequate progress can be made here in the U.S., the above problems must be solved. They are greater than any technical problems yet we have not adequately addressed them.

      Those most committed to nuclear power are not experts in dealing with the media. Considering the importance of dealing with the media, we should be working to attract media experts to the effort. At the present time, that is at least as important as attracting technical experts.

      • RDE
        March 3, 2016 - 4:21 am | Permalink

        And exactly why do politicians need to call the thorium cycle in LFTR reactors “nuclear power”? After all this is a post Orwellian era where words have the meaning that the opinion makers give them. If people can be convinced that starting endless wars and maintaining 1400 overseas military bases has anything to do with providing security for the nation, surely a simple but sustained ad campaign could define thorium power as something entirely different from the bad nuclear power plants that melted down in Fukushima.

        The reasons why that isn’t happening actually have more to do with profit, as do most decisions in the USA. GE is not about to give up on it’s monopoly for building zirconium clad solid fuel rods that it can sell at almost any price because only they can be used in GE reactors. And a 10 billion dollar per plant construction boondoggle was great while it lasted—-. With not a little help from the Government capping the liability at a minute fraction of the potential for damage from a melt-down.

        • Frank Eggers
          March 3, 2016 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps they could call it nuclear energy instead of nuclear power. That might be less likely to cause negative emotional reactions.

          • Timok
            March 22, 2016 - 4:19 pm | Permalink

            In the UK, the UK Government is about to invest in Areva’s EBWR design (that is experiencing severe technical problems at Flamanville). If this happens, it will seal the fate of UK nuclear industry to conventional nuclear technology away from LFTR for decades to come. Hinkley Point C, at the end of its operating lifetime, will nearly have doubled the UK inventory of high-level nuclear waste that has to be stored safely for 100000 years.

            It is estimated to cost the UK taxpayer 18 billion GBP to decomission Hinkley Point B, whereas building another nuclear power plant, namely Hinkley Point C, at a cost of circa 24 billion GBP (or potentially much higher if there cost overruns) enables the site in Somerset to be allowed to continue to be contaminated, well past the period of the present UK Government. The morality of the situation beggars belief, and the UK Government should come “clean” about the issue.

            A meltdown of Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C would see the end of human habitation of Somerset, Norfolk and Suffolk, and severe contamination of Bristol. Is it really worth the risk? – No ! However, the pride of presently pending politicians in UK Government defies logical thought processes, so it seems that LFTR will not get much of a chance in the UK.

            As written in previous entries at this web-site, the value of LFTR, in my humble view, lies mostly in its potential characteristic as a nuclear waste “burner”. There presently exists circa 145000 tonnes of high level nuclear waste around the World, much in the cooling pools of existing nuclear plant.

            There now are apprearing reports of severe radation stress to the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Dai’ichi site. This needs international coordination as a matter of urgency, to try to address. However, the sad thing is, that there is probably not much that can be done in practice to ameliorate the situation in view of the extremely high levels of ambient radiation at the site.

            Enrico Fermi stated that as soon as any civilization discovers atomic energy, it either poisons itself thereby, or blows itself up, and that is why it has not been possible so far for human beings to find any other advanced civilizations in the universe.

  • N.S.Rajagopalan M.Sc Physics
    November 27, 2013 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    I wish that Thim based cars are brougt to use ae early as possible.I solicit cooperation of all atomic scientists,

  • Magwoodsman
    April 18, 2014 - 11:24 am | Permalink

    I’m no scientist but I’ve read a great deal about thorium reactors and have come to the conclusion that we have been appallingly betrayed by our politicians, the military, economists and a large section of the scientific community, who all seem to have vested interests in yesterday’s technologies. Given that our world is seriously in need of the kind of generating capacity that a thorium based reactor network could produce, the fact that we are not building these stations right now is one of today’s most heinous scandals.

    • September 4, 2015 - 5:34 pm | Permalink

      Considering that most politicians see it as political suicide even to mention nuclear power, why would we expect them to mention it? THAT is the most important barrier right now and we are not addressing it.

  • Farook Shah
    September 28, 2014 - 7:28 pm | Permalink

    If LFTR and MSR are such a good idea why do not we see it in practice? Why are the “cons” shrouded in such a mystery? Why is corrosion still a problem despite +60 years when it was first recognized?

    • admin
      September 28, 2014 - 7:44 pm | Permalink

      The cons are not a mystery. There are simply many good things to say. The corrosion was solved when the nickel-hastalloy was developed. I have some cons mentioned.
      With regard to corrosion. Some of the lifetime use will be lower than other kinds of reactors but for example replacing the container every seven years is not too expensive and solves the problem.

      Why it is still not being used? That is related to several factors. The nuclear industry is heavily regulated. New types of reactors have a very expensive licensing process that arguably needs to change but that plus the fact that it is a drastic design change that would require new skills and new training for plant workers. If you want to read more about a recent company that is moving forward nicely is a company called Terrestrial Energy in Canada. Their chance of success is good because of Canada’s less rigid regulator the CNSC.

  • David Lyttle
    October 31, 2014 - 1:09 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Grant and the others who advocate building LFTRs. Pros and Cons? Look at the cons associated with conventional nuclear reactors… high operating pressure and temperature, massive size of containment structures, waste by products, potential for catastrophic systems failure, ad nauseam and they built them anyway!

    I say efforts should be made to get LFTRs up and running in every state so we can get real data and experience. Other wise we run the risk of talking the concept to death as greenhouse emissions rise along with sea levels… and I don’t know how to swim!

  • Ryan
    October 31, 2014 - 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I have researched some on the thorium msr and had some thoughts to modifications that may benefit everyone. First setting up a research reactor adjacent to an inferior lwr that is nearing the end of its life would be extremely beneficial in many ways, first the waste at the site could be used to fuel the msr to start and reach critical, second the heat exchanger should have a build in still or electrolysis tank for seperating deuterium and tritium since the water would be brought above the necesarry temperatures anyway, this still could produce heavy water for candu style reactors as a moderator, but also high voltage plus heavy water makes neutrons which would be beneficial to a beam driven thorium setup, also seperate tritium and use it for research into fusion or for other applications (currently priced at around $30,000 a Gram) this still would also purify sea water to fresh potable water, from water that had run through the lwr and remove any tritium caused by stray neutrons. Water scarcity in places like China are a real problem, lets make water and power systems interconnected therefore available to more people. The deuterium electrolysis isnt normally used due to the high power use, not a problem for a reactor station. The old lwr infrastructure would assist the fledgling msr until all the bugs and details are worked out, then decommision the old reactor and recycle old waste on site withought transport. There have been hypothesis that a dual fission/ fusion plant might be possible but thats a discussion for another date, but the name of the game is synergy, use the lwr flaws to the msrs advantage. If someone could integrate high efficiency Tesla turbines as the generators output could be maxed, alomg with gravity fed sea water pits to the heat exchange and heat pumps to move the distilled fresh water along water main pipes one could imagine the lwr complex evolving to a lwr, msr, industrial complex with other processes and factories added on as time goes on. If any of this sounds viable im glad to help anf im willing to move for any job offers 🙂

    • September 4, 2015 - 5:37 pm | Permalink

      Good idea, but it will go no place as long as politicians are afraid even to mention nuclear power. As I have stated many times before, that problem is what is holding us back and we are barely even addressing it.

      We need media experts to work with us to solve that problem.

  • Timok
    February 27, 2015 - 12:26 am | Permalink

    Problem is that LFTR’s are big capital investment and involve long development times. Moreover, highly skilled engineers and staff will be required to operate them. In contradistinction, contemporary renewables, or future developments thereof, can be deployed progressively and give a fast return on investment capital. Furthermore, it is feasible to get private insurance for renewables, whereas the private sector is unwilling to underwrite nuclear facilities, whether LFTR or otherwise. Thus, LFTR requires public subsidy and public underwriting. LFTR proponents are just getting a “free ride” at public expense, just like all the waste Tokomak fusion research (100 billion USD), that has not yet yielded any commercial fusion reactor design? Such funds invested in contemporary renewables would have provided huge capacity which would immediately address the issue of anthropogenic cllimate change and fossil fuel depletion. The myth about Thorium LFTR should be destroyed, and a sensible pragmatic approach taken via renewables; they do not generate any form of radioactive waste !

    Having studied many reports and original ORNL documents regarding LFTR, it turns out that LFTR is truly dreadful technology. It is a waste of valuable resources and should not be pursued. There are likely to be far better technologies coming, such as LENR, which are far far cleaner and cheaper to implement.

  • Timok
    February 27, 2015 - 12:37 am | Permalink


    LFTR’s have severe failure modes. Their fuel becomes very radiation hard (strong Gamma emitter) such that a major accident or spill would be extremely hazardous to clean. It should also be noted that LFTR run at criticality with all its inherent control problems, even if the melt has a negative temperature coefficient offset by graphite positive coefficient. In a two-liquid arrangement (core and surrounding Thorium blanket as neutron reflector), a graphite or Hastelloy-N separating barrier could fail, e.g. due to thermal stress, corrosion and/or neutron embrittlement, such that cleaning up a LFTR after missing of core and blanket would be one unholy mess and extremely hazardous due to the high Gamma flux. Of course, proponents of LFTR do not address such issues – their apparatus will never break down ? The Japanese thought that Fukushima Dai’ichi was invincible; now, the wreck of Fukushima Dai’ichi (i.e. triple meltdowns where the coriums have now bored though the primary containment into the ground via their own lava tubes, to reach the water table in the coming years) is destroying all life in the Pacific Ocean; billions of years of biological evolution in Pacific Ocean is being wrecked in a course of a few years. Do we really want to invest in more fission technology, LFTR and similar, when LENR do not have these problems?

    • February 22, 2017 - 7:12 pm | Permalink

      The voice of raiionaltty! Good to hear from you.

  • Brian185
    March 2, 2015 - 6:44 pm | Permalink

    If you would like input from a design engineer who has worked in the commercial nuclear industry for a more decades than I care to count, then CON item 3 – “positive temperature coefficient” eliminates Thorium reactors as a serious energy alternative. That’s because a Construction / Operating Licensing would never be granted to a reactor configuration that could potentially continue to fission under certain accident scenarios (the result of fuel having a positive temp. coefficient). To the best of my knowledge, there has been only one type of commercial reactor configuration designed with fuel characteristics that contained a positive moderator coefficient, the most famous (or infamous)plant location being Chernobyl.

  • March 5, 2015 - 8:34 pm | Permalink

    Brian185. MSR designs in general do not have a positive thermal coefficient of re-activity. In fact, it is so strongly negative that one could seriously consider doing without control rods and depend exclusively on the negative thermal coefficient for control. This rumor is likely due to a discovery that MSBR while had a fast negative thermal coefficient, there was also a slow positive one. Specifically, when the temperature goes up the first effect is that the reactivity goes down. But when the graphite warmed up to the reactivity went up and the overall effect was slightly positive. Clearly this problem doesn’t exist for graphite-less designs. It also doesn’t exist in our graphite based design and I expect it doesn’t exist in most MSR designs.
    By the way, it is true that the US won’t license a reactor with a positive thermal coefficient – but as I understand it CANDUs have a positive thermal coefficient. In that case the reactor time constants are long and so the reactor is relatively easy to control.

  • June 12, 2015 - 8:47 pm | Permalink

    The principal impediment to developing any new type of reactor is political.

    I have written to several senators and representatives pointing out the need to use nuclear power as the principal sources of power to replace fossil fuels. I have never received a response, even from a senator who has an engineering degree and is fully capable of understanding the nuclear imperative.

    Supporting nuclear power would be seen by politicians as the kiss of death to their political careers. There are enough people who are so afraid of nuclear power that they would oppose any politician who supports it. Probably those people comprise more than 10% of voters; if they always voted against politicians who support nuclear power, they would greatly reduce the likelihood of nuclear power supporters’ winning an election.

    The media refuse to educate people about nuclear power. The result is that the vast majority of voters are not even aware that different types of nuclear reactor are possible, some types of which would eliminate or greatly reduce the legitimate objections to our current LWR technology. It is easy to see why the media refuse to cover the matter adequately. People tend to avoid coming into contact with positions they oppose. Thus, if a TV network, newspaper, or magazine carried articles which support nuclear power they would lose the portion of their audience which unalterably opposes nuclear power.

    Of course it is important to discuss the technical aspects of nuclear power, but it is at least as important to explore ways to reduce the influence of those who unalterably oppose nuclear power.

    It will be interesting to follow Germany. If Germany’s move away from nuclear pows turns out to be a clear disaster, then it may become possible to gain political support to develop a superior nuclear power technology.

  • Mike Snider
    August 23, 2015 - 3:40 pm | Permalink

    PWRs were selected by Rickover et. al. because the metallic fuel contains the long half life reaction products. Rickover’s and France’s experience with sodium cooled reactors has shown that the violent water / sodium chemical reaction makes this design unreliable. Chernobyl, a graphite moderated design, shows the horrors of combustible moderators / coolants in a sever accident scenario. Salts are readily dissolved in water and are very toxic to aquatic life. A sever accident with a salt cooled reactor would provide a perfect water born path to spread contamination from the long half life products. Such a plant must be near a large body of water for a heat sink.

    I like small lead or lead/bismuth reactors with metallic fuel for sever accident performance. They also offer higher operating temperatures than PWRs…

  • Mike Snider
    August 23, 2015 - 3:44 pm | Permalink

    and should be “than” PWRs

  • Alex Hales
    September 14, 2015 - 3:02 am | Permalink

    I do not entirely agree that politicians are afraid of nuclear, I think there is just not enough understanding in the main stream, add to that, that the people whocan make this work, who have the money and resource to commit behind it, are pursuing other agenda’s.

    I think with facebook being accessed to about 1 billion people you have a forum right there to post information and create the desired awareness. If you bring in a talented marketing agency you could not only raise the awareness you could even make it sexy, then people will be demanding it.

  • September 14, 2015 - 5:33 am | Permalink


    The Secretary of the Department of Energy is Dr. Ernest J. Moniz who was a professor of physics at MIT. From what I’ve heard he favors nuclear power. Surely he has had contact with many senators and representatives so we can assume that many of them do have a reasonably good understanding of nuclear power.

    A few years ago when our NM federal senator, Martin Heinrich, was running for house, I had a meeting with him and presented him with material on the LFTR in addition to discussing it with him. Senator Heinrich has a degree in mechanical engineering so he would have had to have enough physics to be able to understand the LFTR adequately yet he will not even mention nuclear power and supports only renewables.

    President Obama has barely mentioned nuclear power. Considering that he operates by very carefully thinking out matters and considering various options, and considering that he appointed Dr. Moniz we can assume that he has a reasonable understanding of nuclear power. Probably Obama is afraid of losing political capital if he openly supports nuclear power, even though he cannot run for office again.

    Also, I am not the only one who strongly believes that it is fear of the anti-nuclear crowd that prevents politicians from mentioning nuclear power. If the anti-nuclear crowd has even 10% of the public afraid of nuclear power in any form, then a politician who supports nuclear power will lose the votes of that 10% which could easily change the outcome of an election. For basically the same reason the gun lobby has politicians afraid to take any action that might irritate a minority of gun owners.

    Probably those who receive considerable income from coal also oppose nuclear power; I shall refrain from mentioning names.

    I do agree that if more members of the public were aware if the limitations of renewables and the need for nuclear power it is more likely that action would be taken. I refuse to join Facebook but I have a file that I copy into posts in Internet threads where it is appropriate. Interestingly I receive little push back.

    • February 22, 2017 - 7:57 pm | Permalink

      I’d vetrune that this article has saved me more time than any other.

  • September 14, 2015 - 5:57 am | Permalink

    On 17 December at 6:00 PM, Interfaith Power and Light (IPL), which strongly opposes nuclear power, will be having a discussion at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church here in Albuquerque, NM, U.S.A. The discussion will be based mainly on the encyclical written on energy by the Bishop of Rome; he considers global warming to be a matter of concern for people of faith and of course he is right. However, his encyclical avoids mentioning nuclear power. Considering that he has a scientific background that seems strange.

    Probably I will not have a chance to bring up nuclear power. I have previously contacted the both the local organizer for IPL and the national director and got no place. They know nothing about any reactor technology except our pressurized water reactors and say that they are too busy to take time to study nuclear power technology. I see that as a cop out; it simply is not ethical for them to take a firm stand against something unless they have taken the time to become adequately informed.

    On 15 September, i.e., two days before the meeting, I have an appointment to see our (new) priest; he will be making closing remarks. I plan to make it very clear to him that although I do not expect him to support any kind of energy technology that it is imperative for people involved with energy issues to be willing to listen to other opinions and to be thoroughly informed before taking a position. Moreover, people should be permitted to make posts in the IPL website; currently they cannot.

    Here is a link to the web page of IPL which contains a statement opposing nuclear power:
    I suggest contacting them and asserting very strongly that it is not ethical for them to take a position on nuclear power unless they have thoroughly studied it, including various reactor designs.

    We do have a retired physicist in the congregation but unfortunately he will be out of town; he supports nuclear power.

  • Alex Hales
    September 14, 2015 - 10:06 am | Permalink

    Hi Frank

    Thanks for taking the time to write back, I will be honest with I am from the UK and actually live out in Cambodia, so very little of what the US is doing and admit that I am not as well versed as you on the subject. Reading your points its clear that there are many obstacles to overcome especially public opinion and a person in office who has a pair to take this on.

    The point I was trying to raise is that what is on the table needs the right kind of PR so people become interested and want to adopt the technology. That said I am sure there are plenty of people already doing so, more forums like this is a great start.

  • September 15, 2015 - 5:43 pm | Permalink


    I am not disagreeing with you. It is likely that a good PR program would make the politicians feel free to support nuclear power. However, that would not be easy implement since the media are loath to cover the matter. Even PBS barely mentions nuclear power and it never covers it favorably. It may be that they fear that adequately covering nuclear power would irritate their donors.

    Public opinion is, to a large degree, determined by how often a message is repeated. Frequency seems to be more important than content and most of the messages the public is getting about nuclear power are negative. It is unclear what can be done about that.

  • steve mazur
    September 17, 2015 - 1:12 pm | Permalink


  • Jens Stubbe
    October 7, 2015 - 1:19 pm | Permalink

    Number 1 and 11 on the pro list are pure nonsense.

    You cannot prevent CO2 emission altogether and as long as a MSR run as a standard thermal power plant you cannot prevent the release of methane, water vapor and CO2 from cooling water. Presently 45% of the freshwater usage in USA is for thermal power plants, which is completely unsustainable. If you want to get rid of fossil fuel usage or just reduce it even then you have to design MSR complete free of water usage or place the reactors at seaside locations with CO2 and methane capture systems with the set of problems associated with this strategy.

    Declaring that renewables cannot do the job is downright stupid. Both wind and solar can each be scaled to meet the energy needs of the entire globe and OTEC as well as geothermal and osmotic power have the same potential.

    Dishonest representation of the potential of other low carbon alternatives does not add extra credibility to MSR and it does not help the sense of urgency among developers of MSR to claim that there is no real competition. Quite to the contrary especially wind power and solar power is reducing cost so fast that the window of opportunity for MSR is closing fast simply because being able to produce energy with MSR’s is not enough you also have to be competitive in the market place.

    Number 5 on the pro list is irrelevant since new coal power plants no longer are at grid parity anymore anywhere on the planet and hardly any coal power plants will come online in the future. 2014 was the first year with economic growth where the total global greenhouse gas emissions actually dropped and most coal companies are in dire economic troubles.

    Number 12 on the pro list can best be described as a nice hope. During the renaissance in northern Italy there was a constant state of war despite the fact that food was plentiful and the economic and artistic as well as the engineering development was astonishing. I come from Denmark where it always has been really easy to produce food and it never made us very peaceful. We started the many frequent invasions of Britain with the Anglo Saxon invasion and followed up on that several times during the Viking ages and did it one final time with the Norman invasion. We launched the only serious attack on the Roman empire and nearly defeated Rome. Later on we again launched a successful attack on the northern regions of Italy. We have invaded France over and over again and so on and so on. So the idea that wealth makes people placid and peace loving is simply an over simplification. One could argue that USA is among the wealthiest nations on earth but still USA has the most powerful military and a lot of experience with the use of force as an extension of diplomacy.

  • Dan Sideen
    February 27, 2016 - 2:40 am | Permalink

    Your logic and facts are seriously flawed.
    First, most of the water used in power plants is returned, somewhat warmer to its source, not consumed.
    Second, the lifecycle CO2 emissions of nuclear is roughly the same as PV and wind.
    Finally, perhaps most importantly, PV & wind are unreliable and require fossil fuel (typically natural gas) backup for the most of the time the wind isn’t blowing & the sun isn’t shining.
    Unless, of course, you have up invented the holy grail of intermittent power sources – a really good storage device, which is highly doubtful.
    I’ll put my money on MSR technology rather than practical, large scale energy storage.

  • June 4, 2016 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    Personal mastery is something that does not happen as an accident not overnight.

  • tom
    June 8, 2016 - 5:54 pm | Permalink

    If there is an overall consensus for the next step in world energy production; disagreement is damn near an engineering coefficient.
    Every energy technology potential makes claims that could be true. However, the proven cases fall short because of ‘unforeseen’ development.
    Renewable energy development does well when retail fossil fuels go thru the roof. Coupled with public funding initiatives, R & D pilot studies and innovation labs do great. But when the economy rolls back to affordability, you never hear from these folks again.

    I love to live in a world of biofuels & advanced geothermal power; but the infrastructure or policy confidence for the public isn’t established. Its tragic that we have to have crisis events before anything gets done.

    Nuclear energy production isn’t going to work because you have a distracted government that can’t keep goals longer than the next election. That’s always a problem when any utility is over regulated. Safe & affordable will be at odds with liability & work stoppage.
    The problem isn’t the science or the engineering; its’ the politics and lack of border enthusiasm for commercial development.

    There is going to be a winner in global energy production, it will be the country that builds the best labs that can partner with the best businesses.

  • timok
    August 26, 2016 - 9:11 pm | Permalink

    It seems that the UK will not be proceeding with Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C to an Areva design that is technically impossible and very expensive to try to implement. At the same time, the Chinese are working on a Thorium pebble-bed reactor with Helium cooling that is alleged to be passively impossible to suffer meltdown. When the pebbles are fabricated from Silicon Carbide casing, deep fuel “burn-up” of their Thorium contents can be employed. Moreover, theoretically, nuclear waste can be mixed into the pebbles to obtain nuclear waste transmutation. The pebbles do not suffer the corrosion problems of Thorium LFTR, and can operate at a high temperature of several hundred oC, to obtain a high thermal efficiency when generating electrical power. With such technology, the Thorium LFTR seems a poor relation. Thorium LFTR is old 1960’s technology, and there are better options in the future. Investors should not waste their time and money on such antiquated technology.

  • wasteheat
    September 2, 2016 - 6:31 am | Permalink

    Nuclear does not attribute to CO2 production but still ends up contributing to global warming, due to the release of waste heat through the water cooling source. Calling this heat “slightly” elevated is hardly scientific, and only serves to obscure the most basic flaw of nuclear as a global warming solution.

    • admin
      September 3, 2016 - 3:45 pm | Permalink

      You need to look at the ratio of heat released to CLEAN energy gained. That is what matters.

      • Tim
        March 24, 2017 - 8:08 pm | Permalink

        I have no scientific knowledge at all but have followed the Thorium reactor for many years. It is like some of the things Tesla was dreaming of cheap energy for everyone. He had no profit motive and as with everything money is behind it all. If someone GE or others are deprived of income for life, Government kickbacks or special favors this will never see the light of day in the US. Sadly it will be another nation that will make this a reality. I am Old now and remember the fire of the Apollo mission and landing on the Moon. We have made a effort to land on Mars a dream of many that promise nothing but knowledge. I believe that the Science of making a reliable, safe, portable, cheap energy source is the future of all mankind, to the impoverish, and polluted world this is the most important endeavor of all.

  • William44
    June 8, 2017 - 9:46 am | Permalink

    Hi, do you allow guest posting on ? 🙂 Please let me know on my e-mail

    • admin
      January 16, 2018 - 9:52 pm | Permalink

      I allow guest posting as long as the post subject is related to molten salt reactors.

  • Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • 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]

    See This Book Reviewed Here!!!