Tag Archives: proliferation

Advocates Kirk Sorensen LFTR New Posts nuclear nuclear plants thorium

Thorium MSR in China

Kirk Sorensen’s EFT page: Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (TMSR) is now being developed in China

and here is Charles Barton’s Post China starts LFTR Development Project

I’m sure Kirk Sorensen and Charles Barton had mixed emotions when they learned that China was building a TMSR. Details of the design are not available. For newcomers, this is a big deal because the LFTR is a TMSR. TMSR is a more general term.
So it’s great that somebody recognizes this technology as promising. It’s sad that the US, the place that gave birth to the first TMSR, has not revived the research to commercialize them. Alvin Weinberg must be turning in his grave.

Funding Mining New Posts nuclear uranium

China Solves Nuclear Self Sufficiency For 3000 Years – Reprocessing!!!

This article appeared in the African Engineering News ….. (UPDATE: Original China Daily Story )

China Central Television reported on Monday that the country’s scientists have successfully developed technology to reprocess spent nuclear fuel.

Other countries, such as France, Russia and the UK, have already developed and employ such technology, but, because it is highly sensitive, it cannot be bought and each country seeking to recycle nuclear fuel must develop the technology itself.

Recycling spent nuclear fuel reduces the amount of newly mined uranium required to feed nuclear power stations, thus extending the life of uranium reserves, or permitting the same resources to fuel a greater number of reactors.

China Central Television claimed that the newly developed recycling technology would, presumably at current usage, mean that China’s uranium resources would last for 3 000 years.

The China Daily newspaper reports that the country’s proven uranium reserves currently total 171 400 t, and are mainly found in the provinces of Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hunan, Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Liaoning and Yunnan. (The provinces are listed in the order given by the newspaper.)

The recycling technology was developed and tested at China National Nuclear Corporation’s No. 404 Factory, located in the Gobi desert in Gansu province.

China Daily states that the country now has 12 operational nuclear reactors with a total generating capacity of 10,15 GW.

The Chinese government has established an official target of 40 GW of nuclear generating capacity by 2020.

However, Beijing has indicated that it could double this to 80 GW, to more rapidly reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Prior to the announcement of the local development of nuclear fuel recycling technology, Chinese researchers had been of the opinion that the country would have had to import 60% of its uranium requirements by 2020, even if only the more modest nuclear expansion programme was implemented.

2007 Article still very relevant – Recycling Nuclear Fuel: The French Do It, Why Can’t Oui?

LFTR nuclear thorium uranium

Wired article just barely a year old about Thorium

The Wired Magazine article Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke

I remember when the author Richard Martin was lurking on the EnergyFromThorium forum researching the topic. Very good background article covers Kirk Sorensen’s early days with his first encounters with the ORNL masters and the book that taught him it’s secrets.

The enthusiasm is low-key as expected from the nerd culture of Wired Magazine but definitely worth reading.

LFTR New Posts nuclear thorium

Q and A with David LeBlanc – Canadian Thorium expert

David LeBlanc is a physics researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. He founded Ottawa Valley Research Associates Ltd. to advance molten salt reactor designs. Is an important contributor to the energyfromthorium.com forum and is becoming lecturer on the related subjects of Thorium Reactors.

1. You have taken a recent interest in DMSR* (see David’s explanation below) Why is this of interest?
My approach in design has always been to simplify as much as possible. The DMSR runs on a liquid salt mixture of low enriched uranium and thorium without the need to develop salt processing methods to remove fission products. It is just a very simple vessel filled with inexpensive graphite with no components or barriers needed within the core region itself.
Thus it is basically just a larger version of the highly successful Molten Salt Reactor Experiment that ran from 1965 to 1969.  The benchmark DMSR design runs at a lower power density than previous MSR designs in order to get a full 30 year lifetime out of the graphite to remove the complication of replacing graphite.  It should be noted though, that it is still much higher power density (and smaller) than any other graphite moderated gas cooled designs.
The salt is run in batches with the addition of small amounts Low Enriched Uranium to keep it running. After a long run of perhaps 10 to 30 years, this salt is then removed to have an optional one time only processing done, likely at a central facility.
At the very least, the contained uranium can be fairly simply removed and reused and there is an economic incentive to do so.  It is hoped a nation also performs the harder removal of the other actinides (Pu, Np, Am, Cm) and also recycle these in the next salt batch.  This step is not likely to be done for economic reasons but it is the right thing to do environmentally since by doing so the remaining mix of fission products are only of concern for a few hundred years.  This relatively short term storage we can certainly have great confidence in as opposed to trusting disposal methods that need to assure things for hundreds of thousands of years.   Furthermore, the proliferation resistance of this design is quite likely the highest of any reactor design running or proposed.  Molten salt reactors running on the pure Thorium to U233 cycle do have attractive anti-proliferation features but represents the use of highly enriched uranium which many might argue against regardless of added safeguards. The uranium in a DMSR is always denatured with too much U238 to have any worry of bomb use.  Like any reactor (even pure Th-U233 ones) there is Plutonium present but it is very difficult to remove and has a mix of undesirable isotopes that make it much poorer than what is currently in Light Water Reactor waste.
This mix of low tecnological uncertainty and high proliferation resistance comes at the modest price of needing a bit more resources than a pure Th-U233 cycle.  However it is as little as 20 tonnes of natural uranium per GWe-year and small amounts of enrichment (vs 200 tonnes for a LWR).
The fuel costs including enrichment are under 0.1 cents per kwh so it is hard to imagine even the pure Th-U233 cycle reaching this since salt processing costs must be covered.  Work on pure Th-U233 cycle designs should continue but the DMSR approach seems to offer just way to many advantages to ignore.
2. You have your own “tube within a tube” design for a Thorium MSR that is patented. a) Can it be classified as a modular design?
This approach for a pure Th-U233 design can get to high total powers, easily several hundred MWe per “tube within tube” but it is also a great approach to run quite small power levels as well.  This approach has a completely encompassing blanket salt that catches all the neutrons coming from the fuel salt in the central tube.  Thus, unlike most other reactor designs, one doesn’t need to worry about increasing how many neutrons are lost due to “leakage” if trying to make a small, low power core.   I should add a note that this approach is not yet patented but is currently progressing fairly smoothly through this very time consuming (and inexpensive) process.
b) How does your design improve on the graphite problem of longevity?
The tube within tube approach works quite well without any graphite at all within the central tube.  Other work that looks to remove graphite typically is faced with needing a much higher fissile starting load (how much U235, U233 or Pu).  However with an encompassing blanket salt you can run the central salt with a very low concentration of fissile fuel and the salt itself slows down the neutrons quite effectively to give a softer neutron spectrum that has other advantages than just needing less fissile material.  More modeling is needed but early indications point to needing only a few hundred kg of fissile material per GWe (1000 MWe) versus many tonnes in other approaches without graphite.
(note: My tube within tube design is a Two Fluid or perhaps 1 and 1/2 fluid design.  It can be run with the uranium denatured but it doesn’t offer the same level of proliferation resistance as the Single Fluid DMSR because with a blanket salt a proliferator could simply stop adding U238 to the blanket.)

Isn’t running without graphite a huge advantage?

Running without any graphite would be nice but I don’t think I’d call it a huge advantage.

But there’s still a need for advanced metals like Hastelloy etc?

Yes of course, we need something for the barrier (Molybdenum alloy, Hastelloy, Carbon composite etc) and we’d likely have lots of Hastelloy N for the outer vessel wall and heat exchangers.

3. How much of Canada’s nuclear plant costs are regulatory and/or license based? How much is added expense because we need to acquire materials from abroad? Could changing the laws bring costs down?
That is a bit outside my area of expertise but certainly the regulatory environment drives up the price of nuclear power.  It must be noted though that when starting with designs that are inherently safe like Molten Salt designs, the burden on regulators to assure public safety is enormously relieved and in a logical world at least, this should relate to much lower regulatory headaches and added costs.
4. We all know that safety is a major accomplishment in Nuclear Reactors. Some are talking about easing up on such strict measures to enable lower costs. Do you think this is realistic?
I think the public will want, and has the right to see ever increasing safety of nuclear operations.  Current reactors already have reached extremely high levels of safety but by expensive engineering solutions and the “defence in depth” approach.  It does indeed look like the industry is facing a situation of potential customers weighing added safety features like “core cathers” versus somewhat lower capital costs.  Fortunately for molten salt designs we are able to offer designs with the utmost in safety to the public in very cost effective ways.
5. An electric power grid has been the subject of energy futurists. How does a flexible grid affect the opportunities for nuclear projects both large and small?
I’m afraid that is too far from my area of knowledge to offer useful comment.
6. What in your opinion needs to be mined anymore? The environmentalists see mining as one the evils of our time. New types of reactors can use existing “waste”. Is there enough “waste” to go around?
I’m from a mining town and while I admit there are environmental downsides to any mining operations, the benefits to the local and world economies are enormous.  Current uranium mining efforts are dwarfed by those for other metals like copper or iron and certainy coal mining.  In 2009 there was about 2 Megatonnes of uranium ore mined while 2500 MT of copper ore was mined.  We should try to minimize mining but I don’t foresee any “real” problems of significance even if the world chose to greatly increase even conventional reactors that are very inefficient in uranium use.
7. Steven Chu and the Obama administration give conflicting signals. On one hand they say it needs to be part of the energy and carbon emissions solution yet they put very little into R & D. It’s looking like they are like the “Reluctant Astronauts” Frightened to proceed yet lured by the prestige.
Does Canada need to be so dependent and cooperative with the US who seem stuck on the fence?
I certainly think Canada can go its own way and we’ve proven this in the past with our development of CANDU reactors which are a significant portion of the world’s fleet.  While the basic public, political, and regulatory environment is arguably much better than in the U.S. the high inertia of our heavy water heritage will be hard to counter at least through AECL itself.  However, even molten salt designs can be quite attractive using heavy water.  My feeling is that in the long run, graphite or no moderator at all will prove best but it might be our foot in the door to broader interest of the current Canadian nuclear establishment.
8. We have learned about Molten Salt Reactors and the amazing advantages of this very different technology. Is it possible to use existing waste as the sole fissile substance?

Do you mean  Uranium as a fissile source? There is a great deal of very useful fissile material (mainly Pu) in current spent fuel.  However if we want to build thousands of reactors worldwide we can soon find ourselves with a shortage.  We can even run MSRs with only this waste, i.e. no thorium or even U238 to convert to more fuel.  In this mode though, we run out very quickly.  As simple start charges to start pure Th-U233 reactors we can go much further but it still represents a potential shortfall.

I worded number 8 badly. I was trying to say “Is there any point or is it possible to run MSR’s with other types of fuel (ie uranium only in the salt) or is Thorium so damn efficient that it’s crazy not to use it.  Maybe the idea of running a reactor with just uranium is too proliferation friendly?

A uranium only version of the DMSR is something I’m certainly looking into and depending how you look at it, it could be considered even more proliferation resistant than the standard DMSR that uses both uranium and thorium.  The reason is that as soon as you have thorium you also have protactinium which you can separate from all the other denatured uranium and wait for it to decay to U233.  This has to be weighed against having a bit more Pu in the salt and needing more uranium annually.  Having no thorium in the salt has several other minor advantages but such an overview would take quite awhile to explain.

9. The CANDU reactors have a reputation for being a flexible design and some have proposed using Thorium with CANDU’s.
a) With the Heavy Water Reactors of Canada and the Light Water Reactors of the US are we stuck with old technology that should be replaced or can we just refurbish the old plants?
Refurbishment has been adding useful life to many plants, including CANDUs but at some point, and not too far off it just gets too expensive and new plants are needed to replace the plants that are upwards of 40 years old already (60 years is often suggested as a limit)
b) and is it cost effective?
Current reactors designs are likely a much better choice than more fossil fuel plants and at least more economically feasable that renewables (which should be part of the mix but very hard to see handling baseload demand). Current designs are certainly not cheap and have many unresolved issues but are at least better than the current alternatives.
c) or more cost effective to introduce a factory assembly of MSR’s
Yes, I certainly think MSRs will prove the best long term choice.  It may be a long time before they are the only type of reactor but they certainly should play a very large role going forward.
10. Is there a shortage of trained people in the Nuclear Energy industry and is it playing a factor in the progress of the industry?
Yes, there certainly seems to be a shortage of trained people and it could indeed curtail progress of all efforts.  Hopefully the university system can ramp up to help.  A good example is the newly formed University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT).  Their nuclear program is growing at an exponential rate and shows no signs of slowing down. Now if I can just convince them (and others) to start doing more MSR research…

DMSR*

- The “D” stands for “denatured”—the uranium in the reactor contains too much U-238 to be useful in weapons. The concept also dispenses with processing the salt to remove fission products; the same salt is used throughout the 30-year life of the reactor with small amounts of low enriched uranium added each year to keep the fissile material constant. The amount of uranium fuel needed—about 35 metric tons per GWe year—is only one-sixth of what is used by a pressurized water reactor. . . .

The amount of fissile material needed to start new reactors is also very important, especially in terms of a rapid fleet expansion. The 1 GWe DMSR was designed for 3.5 metric tons of U-235 (in easy-to-obtain low-enriched uranium) which can be lowered if uranium costs go up. A new PWR, by contrast, needs about 5 metric tons, whereas a sodium-cooled fast breeder such as the PRISM design requires as much as 18 tons of either U-235 or spent fuel plutonium. Any liquid fluoride reactor can be started on plutonium as well, but this turns out to be an expensive option, since removing plutonium from spent fuel costs around $100,000 per kilogram

See Charles Barton’s Post called Phoenix Rising May 2005 that covers David’s trip to ORNL earlier this year and where the DMSR was discussed.

My previous post on David’s Magazine Article Too Good To Leave on the Shelf

Youtube Talks by David LeBlanc

Liquid Fluoride Reactors a New Beginning for an Old Idea

Liquid Fluoride Reactors: Luxury of Choice – October 2009 – Part One

Liquid Fluoride Reactors: Luxury of Choice – Ocober 2009 – Part Two

ORNL Talk – May 2010

Liquid Fluoride Reactors: An Exploration of Design Space

David LeBlanc explains why thorium reactors need a lot less fissile nuclear material to start and for ongoing operation

LFTR nuclear thorium

Slower Breeding at Modestly High Temperatures With Thorium. What's not to love?

Robert Steinhaus has a good overview of Nuclear Energy and recently he commented about the advantages of the Thorium LFTR on Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s Facebook Wall and lays out the advantages and nicely summarizes.

“All breeder reactors are not created equal (in terms of safety and cost). It is both safer and cheaper to design breeder reactors using a mild thermal neutron spectrum with Thorium nuclear fuel. Conventional breeder reactors are designed to operate with Uranium/Plutonium fuel and require very carefully designed fast neutron reactors to work. Thorium breeds more slowly than does a fast neutron reactor, but it does so with greater stability and safety. Some of the advantages of thermal spectrum breeder reactors burning Thorium is that you get fuel resource utilization closely approaching 100%, you have to dig only about one two hundredth the amount of ore from the ground, and after producing abundant amounts of clean power you have only one hundredth the amount of waste to get rid of and that waste is only radiotoxic (radioactivity above natural background) for about 400 years.”

Some background. The breeder reactor comes in a couple of varieties. The Fast Breeder and the Thermal Breeder. LFTR is Thermal. It runs without water and has no need for expensive containment since it does not become pressurized. It is the most flexible of reactor concepts and will one day be used for a great variety of purposes beyond just power for electricity.

1 ton of Thorium = 200 tons of Uranium
Current reactors leave behind 95% of the original fuel
A Thorium MSR (Molten Salt Reactor) or LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor) will leave behind 1% of the original fuel

(Wikipedia)
“…Liquid-fluoride reactors have many attractive features, such as deep inherent safety (due to their strong negative temperature coefficient of reactivity and their ability to drain their liquid fuel into a passively-cooled and non-critical configuration) and ease of operation. They are particularly attractive as thermal breeders because they can isolate protactinium-233 (the intermediate breeding product of thorium) from neutron flux and allow it to decay to uranium-233, which can then be returned to the reactor. Typical solid-fueled reactors are not capable of accomplishing this step and thus U-234 is formed upon further neutron irradiation…”

New Posts nuclear

Barry Brooks Article and the Comments from Nov 2009

Carbon emissions and nuclear capable countries

This is from Nov 2009 but very important for newcomers with a little bit of patience for the technical and political arguments in support of nuclear energy.

It is time to come clean on the energy vs proliferation argument. The facts strongly support that weapons and energy belong in different worlds.  The difficulty and expense are two controlling factors. The political suicide is another factor. Teams of highly skilled people are needed to produce a nuclear bomb. If a Nuclear Plant is targeted by terrorists it will not cause a nuclear explosion. There’s a lot more in the article and it’s worth a read through the comments too.

What is sadly lacking in general when discussing radiation is just how much is dangerous and how much exists in nature and in doctors offices and in coal plant emissions. Nuclear plants have been getting bad publicity because the press uses any excuse to raise the alarm about Nuclear because it sells papers.

New Posts nuclear thorium

Robert Hargraves at Blue Ribbon Commission Aug 30 2010

“For an overview of a two fluid liquid fluoride thorium molten salt reactor see my ten minute presentation before the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s nuclear future. Click on the Aug 30 date and scroll down to find this.”

http://brc.gov

Robert provided a much needed perspective and if you had not been there Rod Adams and Kirk Sorensen may have needed to alter their presentations.

I’m adding the link to Robert Hargrave’s text PDF

Also One Page Summary

Paper – Aim High is a Project with Lofty Goals

New Posts nuclear thorium

Kirk of Energy From Thorium quoted in UK's Telegram

Bravo Kirk Sorensen for being quoted in the UK’s Telegraph in the Article titled

Obama could kill fossil fuels overnight with a nuclear dash for thorium

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Published: 6:55PM BST 29 Aug 2010

Dr Rubbia says a tonne of the silvery metal – named after the Norse god of thunder, who also gave us Thor’s day or Thursday – produces as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium, or 3,500,000 tonnes of coal. A mere fistful would light London for a week.

Thorium eats its own hazardous waste. It can even scavenge the plutonium left by uranium reactors, acting as an eco-cleaner. “It’s the Big One,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA rocket engineer and now chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering.

“Once you start looking more closely, it blows your mind away. You can run civilisation on thorium for hundreds of thousands of years, and it’s essentially free. You don’t have to deal with uranium cartels,” he said.

Thorium is so common that miners treat it as a nuisance, a radioactive by-product if they try to dig up rare earth metals. The US and Australia are full of the stuff. So are the granite rocks of Cornwall. You do not need much: all is potentially usable as fuel, compared to just 0.7pc for uranium.

After the Manhattan Project, US physicists in the late 1940s were tempted by thorium for use in civil reactors. It has a higher neutron yield per neutron absorbed. It does not require isotope separation, a big cost saving. But by then America needed the plutonium residue from uranium to build bombs.

LFTR New Posts nuclear thorium

It's about time. Bombs for fuel conversion in US. Better late than never.

World Nuclear News US MOX plant in South Carolina clears licensing hurdle. Ya one of many hurdles and more to come even though the site is nearly complete. Delays expected until 2016. It’s not clear what the real delays are. Construction or licensing or both?

It’s also not clear who’s bombs are being converted to fuel but the April 2010 accord shows that the “USA and Russia are now committed to disposing of 34 tonnes of excess weapons-grade plutonium each under a landmark treaty”

The “Megatons to Megawatts” program which began in 1994 has been happening in a shared program decommissioning Russian bombs at a Russian plant for fuel supplying the US with much of the needed fuel. This is the first US plant to do the same but using a different process. (The US did some reprocessing back in the 60’s but before the age of safety standards that came after Chernobyl and Three Mile Island so some of them they gave reprocessing a bad profile)

But is the current process getting it from Russia too expensive?

“Under terms of the contract, as amended in 1996, United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) (i) purchases the enrichment portion of the blended-down material and sells it to its electric utility customers for use in fabricating fuel for their commercial nuclear power plants, and (ii) transfers to TENEX a quantity of natural uranium equal to the natural uranium component of the LEU. In 1999, Russia entered into a sales agreement with three Western companies for that natural uranium.”

USEC expects the total purchase price of the enrichment portion of the material to be about $8 billion. Including the natural uranium delivered by USEC to TENEX, the program’s total value is approximately $12 billion.

With the LFTR being hailed as a cheaper and better way isn’t this enough incentive to act now and deregulate so we can start building LFTR’s? Yes it’s about time but the sooner the path is clear to new Generation III and IV reactors the better the chances our changing climate and all it’s devastation will be reduced.

Has anybody heard that China’s new China Experimental Fast Reactor was built for under 1 Billion dollars. That’s very cheap for a reactor that supplies energy for 30 or 40 years.

Letter Templates New Posts nuclear thorium

The pro-nukes need "to create a groundswell of public support" to succeed.

I have quoted DV82XL before since he has many insightful comments. This one was on Depleted Cranium

191
DV82XL Says:
July 25th, 2010 at 11:52 am

drbuzz0 said:

I’m a bit more optimistic. The public opinion of nuclear energy in the US and many other Western nations is quite good and is rising.

Unfortunately positive public opinion, and public support are not the same thing.

One of the major revelations for me on this issue is that real public opinion on nuclear matters is nowhere near what both the antinuclear side, the media, and the governments claim it is. The fact is that very few polls have been done, and even fewer that have be done with the sort of rigour that one would expect for such an important subject. Those that have been done like the Eurobarometer survey carried out for the European Commission’s directorate-general for energy and transport on the subject have yielded surprising results, yet policy in most of the EU on nuclear energy has remained little changed, with politicians claiming that there is no public support.

Much the same in happening in Canada with projects being squashed in the planning stages, even in the face of positive public opinion. Look at the current efforts to build a merchant NPP in New Brunswick, or the attempt by Bruce Power to begin a study on replacing Nanticoke with a nuclear power station, or the stymied plans to build a NPP at the Whiteshell.

In the US its beginning to look as if the best that can be accoplished is that new builds will keep up with old plant retirements, which have been eroding the total percentage of nuclear supplied power for some time now. Nuclear will be lucky if it grows to 25% in the next thirty years, if things continue as they are.

In terms of what has to be done to achieve significant reductions in burning carbon-base fuels, next to nothing is being accomplished and growth in nuclear energy such as it is is little more than token efforts, accompanied by much hand wringing over the collection of false issues (like proliferation, and waste management) that have been carefully cultivated by the opposition to be trotted out whenever there is danger of real progress.

All of the so-called problems are simple creations of propaganda. The proliferation issue has been done to death, as has the radiation issue and the LNT nonsense it’s based on. All of them are false dilemmas, designed to create the illusion of problems where none exist. First and foremost it seems that few understand that the debate is not really centred on technical issues, nor is it centred on public fears as delineated by antinuclear forces. As a consequence there is no “designing around” these perceived issues, in fact attempting to do so only allows the other side to claim these efforts validate these problems.

The waste issue is a case in point. The uncontrolled and persistent wastes from combustion driven energy is by many orders of magnitude a greater problem than nuclear wastes could ever be. Rather than go on the offensive and push this fact at the public, nuclear has tried to fix this non-existent problem by planning, and in some cases, creating ridiculously over complicated disposal sites. The upshot of this tactic however is that first it corroborates the belief that these are necessary, and second, as illustrated neatly by the farce surrounding The Yucca Mountain Repository is the United States, a convenient target for the opposition. Similar efforts are facing organized protests in other countries as well.

How often does it have to be repeated that the reasons given by antinuclear forces objecting to nuclear power are contrived, and they will not accept any ’solution’ – they are not interested in one, and nether is the general public, because in fact they don’t care. Consider this: how often do you see protests at dry-cask storage sites left over from decommissioned nuclear plants? The reason you don’t is that as far as the public is concerned they ARE a solution, and the protesters know that getting people worked up would be a hard sell.

(Even the subject of this thread is contrived to the point of being ludicrous: Even if a nation with a nuclear weapons complex the size and calibre of the ones in Nuclear weapon States could, theoretically build a device with RGP that might, under idea conditions, and a lot of luck, go supercritical, this still wouldn’t be a weapon. An explosive device isn’t a weapon until it is deliverable, reliable, and deployable in militarily significant numbers. The whole argument becomes sterile if this factor taken into account.)

As well, there is not a nuclear industry per se; almost every company involved in nuclear, also have energy interests in other sectors. They will act in their shareholders best interests, and if that means they can make more money building windmills than reactors, that is what they will do. Thus is is a waste of time to attempt to curry the favour of these players. No help whatsoever can be expected from this quarter.

Furthermore, too much hope is being put in the new entries into the reactor market. Even those that are legitimately looking to introduce new designs, face an almost unscalable wall of regulation, and the hostility of those firms that have obtained type-approval for their products, and will not likely stand still if the bar is lowered for newcomers. And like it or not, there are players in the small reactor sector that are more about attracting investment, than they are about bringing a product to market.

In a similar vein, debate about what GenIV design is superior is at best premature, but is certainly becoming divisive. the product cycle for GenIII and GenIII+ designs is not done, and will be twenty years before GenIV technology will be launched. During that time several new reactor types will be tested and it is likely that in the end a mix of designs will be the outcome, rather than one type taking all. At the moment getting new NPP built with existing technology should be the major thrust of everyone’s effort. There is no point drawing knives on each other now over this; it is a very sterile issue.

The deployment of nuclear energy cannot be accomplished by cultivating political support, and looking for a legislative solution. The enemies of nuclear energy simply have pockets too deep and have ingratiated themselves too firmly into government to allow a small group of elected officials to overcome the influence these interests can apply. The only hope is create a groundswell of public support and very few in the pronuclear movement seem to want to do anything more than pay lip-service to this, hoping it seems, that there is some short-cut that will see some ‘Manhattan Project’ launched from the top down to bring about a nuclear revolution.

This is not just the case in the States, but all over the West. If a real Nuclear Renaissance is what we want, it is going to have to be a popular movement – it is just that simple, and anyone thinking there is a short cut is deluding themselves.

  • 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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