Skip to comments.Nuclear Power Turns To Salt
Posted on 01/31/2015 1:05:27 AM PST by ckilmer
Today, it was announced that the Department of Energyâs Oak Ridge National LaboratoryÂ Â (ORNL) in Tennessee is partnering with Canadian nuclear company Terrestrial Energy Inc. (TEI) to assist with TEIâs new Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR). The engineering blueprint stage for this GenIV reactor should be reached in two years. The reactor should come online in less than ten.
(Excerpt) Read more at forbes.com ...
No not really. Different animals.
Heck, really — your guess is as good as mine.
Certainly the energy physics are different, but I was thinking along the lines of dollars and politics.
Can you explain why there is no reference to “thorium” in the article? The fuel is said to contain uranium. However, the words “molten salt” are used, which is customarily used in a thorium reactor. Is this a different process?
There are non-thorium molten salt reactor designs out there and have been since 1954: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor
No it was not powered by Th. It was a Uranium fueled reactor designed to prove the concept of liquid fuels. It worked beautifully and ORNL director Albert Weinberg did it because he believed that thorium could be used instead of uranium, with Th being better at breeding replacement fuel than uranium. Unfortunately the solid uranium fuel lobby wanted nothing to do with it as all their investments were geared to the idea of the early fast reactors that could breed plutonium for WMD and produce energy the MSR was killed off. For political, not technological reasons.
I dont believe any MSR, be it uranium-fueled or the thorium-fueled LFTR variety that FliBe is working on (and the Chinese) will actually be developed beyond the first small R&D reactors in the United States. Its a totally and absolutely hostile environment from a regulatory point of view. It doesnt mean there wont be major component manufacturing there, but FOK wont be here, itll be elsewhere.
Other commenters had the same perspective.
What a pity. We are giving our energy future to the Chinese. We've already given them the Oak Ridges-developed technology as a starting point.
n.b. They are talking about the 1960s Oak Ridges research reactor in the excerpt above.
From the article:
“The IMSR uses normal low-enriched uranium but can also use thorium and other actinide elements as fuel.”
Also, an interesting and well written side link you may not have noticed:
“The Thing About Thorium: Why The Better Nuclear Fuel May Not Get A Chance”
"When Th232 absorbs a neutron it becomes Th233, which is unstable and decays into protactinium-233 and then into U233. Thats the same uranium isotope we use in reactors now as a nuclear fuel, the one that is fissile all on its own."
Which is totally wrong. The fissile material in uranium reactors is U-235, not U-233.
233 235’ whatever it takes
“You gonna run 220 in your new basement?”
“Yeh - 220, 221 - whatever works best...”
“what difference does it make” 233 or 235 it is only nuclear.
It's worse than that. The Chinese a putting almost a billion a year into the development of liquid salt thorium reactors. They will own all of the intellectual property needed to make it work commercially. Then, when it proves to be an inexpensive and safe source of heat and power, if we in the US want to use it, we will be paying the Chinese royalties.
U-233 is fissile and has been used for a bomb.
unless of course the DOM cooling process negates the FBLe divertors in the Th operational maintenance
hahahahah. Uhm ... To the author - the core of a "molten" salt reactor is already melted down. If its not melted down, its not working.
Something not mentioned in the article is that a LFTR can take what we now consider to be nuclear waste and use it as fuel - beat guns into plowshares as it were.
Oh yeah, this should work out well. The Soviets used molten salt technology in their submarine reactors decades ago. Massive problems and dead sailors on a regular basis according to intel at the time...
Meanwhile, the Chinese expect to build some 200 or so pebble bed reactors. They don’t generate as much energy, but are very safe, and are built on top of their eventual waste disposal site.
Basically, the nuclear material is mixed with, then baked into ceramic balls. Each ball is put into what looks like a giant egg carton, so the balls are located at just the right interval.
They produce a given amount of heat for a given length of time, which then heats inert carbon dioxide gas to run turbines. The carbon dioxide gas in non-corrosive, and does not itself become radioactive.
When the balls are exhausted, the floor beneath them opens, and they are dropped into a deep rock shaft, their permanent resting place. Then concrete is poured on top of them, and the building above them is dismantled.
So the question becomes, why use a thorium molten salt reactor instead of a pebble bed reactor?
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