Episode 22 – The Pros of LFTRs. Why They Are So Cool – Unintended Consequences – Chapter 8 Part 6

Advantages of LFTRs

Many of these also apply to MSRs that use Uranium)

  • No CO2 emissions.
  • Produce only a small amount of low radioactivity waste that is benign in 350 years.
  • The liquid fuel, besides being at 700-1000 degrees C, contains isotopes fatal to saboteurs.
  • Do not require water cooling, so hydrogen and steam explosions are eliminated.
  • Don’t need periodic refuelling shutdowns because the fuel is supplied as needed and the by-products are constantly removed. (LWRs are shut down every 2-3 years to replace about ¼ of the fuel rods, but, LFTRs can run much longer.)
  • Thorium 232 is far more abundant than U-235. Well suited to areas where water is scarce.
  • Do not need huge containment domes because they operate at atmospheric pressure. Breed their own fuel.
  • Can’t “melt down” because the fuel/coolant is already liquid, and the reactor can handle high temperatures.
  • Fluoride salts are less dangerous than the super-heated water used by conventional reactors, and they could replace the world’s coal-powered plants by 2050.
  • Are suitable for modular factory production, truck transport and on-site assembly.
  • Create the Plutonium-238 that powers NASA’s deep space exploration vehicles.
  • Are intrinsically safe: Overheating expands the fuel/salt, decreasing its density, which lowers the fission rate.

Also at play is Doppler Broadening

Fighting Doppler Broadening a.k.a the Doppler Effect
  • If there is a loss of electric power, the molten salt fuel quickly melts a freeze plug, automatically draining the fuel into a tank, where it cools and solidifies.
  • Highly efficient. At least 99% of a LFTR’s Thorium is consumed, compared to about 4% of the uranium in LWRs.
  • Are highly scalable – 10 megaWatt to 2,000 MW plants. A 200 MW LFTR could be transported on a few semi-trailer trucks.

Micro-Reactors by Brian Yang, 16 January 2019

  • Cost less than LWRs. Can consume plutonium.
Rising Costs of Old Nuclear Energy Systems
Rising Costs of Old Nuclear Energy Systems by Atkins Engineering 2014

Can thorium reactors dispose of weapons-grade plutonium? by Michael Irving

Brattle Group study shows value of US nuclear industry

U.S. funds projects on tackling waste from advanced nuclear plants by Valerie Volcovici  and Timothy Gardner

  • Although our current LWRs are very safe and highly efficient, LFTRS are even more productive, and they cannot melt down.
  • Data from the Australian Nuclear Society and Technological Organization of the Australian government:
    + Thorium fuelled molten salt reactors have an energy return ratio of 2,000 to 1. [Also called Energy Density]
    + Our current LWRs that are fuelled with uranium have an energy return ratio of 75 to 1.
    + Coal and gas have an energy return ratio of about 30 to 1. Wind has an energy return ratio of 4 to 1.
    + Solar has an energy return ratio of 1.6 to 1.

Phasing Out Coal Will Require Germany to Build New Gas Plants, by Jesper Starn, June 22, 2021

Big Backpedal: A Week After Shutting its Coal-Fired Plants Germany Forced to Reopen Them, by StopTheseThings, April 25, 2021

“Officials say the weather is partly to blame.”

Germany on Coal Energy Highs and Wind Energy Lows

Germany: Coal tops wind as primary electricity source by DW

Germany 2021: coal generation is rising, but the switch to gas should continue, by Simon Göss, 23 September 2021

“The increase in coal-fired power generation is thus mainly driven by low renewable generation, increased electricity demand and partly also by the high gas prices this year.”

Simon Göss

Coming up next week, Episode 23 – Can’t Afford a Model T? How About a LFTR?


Links and References

  1. Next Episode – Episode 23 – Can’t Afford a Model T? How About a LFTR
  2. Previous Episode – Episode 21 – No Big Noises Here. How a LFTR is Proliferation Proof
  3. Launching the Unintended Consequences Series
  4. Dr. George Erickson on LinkedIn
  5. Dr. George Erickson’s Website, Tundracub.com
  6. The full pdf version of Unintended Consequences
  7. https://lftrsuk.blogspot.com/2011/07/radioactive-nuclear-waste-from-lftrs.html
  8. https://www.nuclear-power.com/glossary/doppler-broadening/
  9. https://analyticalscience.wiley.com/do/10.1002/gitlab.15855
  10. https://www.nextbigfuture.com/2019/01/micro-reactors-as-cheap-as-natural-gas-without-air-pollution.html
  11. https://www.linkedin.com/in/brian-wang-93645
  12. https://thebulletin.org/2019/02/the-pentagon-wants-to-boldly-go-where-no-nuclear-reactor-has-gone-before-it-wont-work/
  13. https://www.lanl.gov/discover/publications/1663/2019-february/megapower.php
  14. https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Brattle-Group-study-shows-value-of-US-nuclear-industry-1007157.html
  15. https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/us-funds-projects-tackling-waste-advanced-nuclear-plants-2022-03-10/
  16. https://www.linkedin.com/in/valerie-volcovici-086b094/
  17. https://www.linkedin.com/in/timothy-gardner-1448953/
  18. https://www.ansto.gov.au/our-science/nuclear-technologies/reactor-systems/advanced-reactors/evolution-of-molten-salt
  19. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-21/phasing-out-coal-will-require-germany-to-build-new-gas-plants#xj4y7vzkg
  20. https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesper-starn-03b7681b8/
  21. https://stopthesethings.com/2021/04/25/big-backpedal-a-week-after-shutting-its-coal-fired-plants-germany-forced-to-reopen-them/
  22. https://www.dw.com/en/germany-coal-tops-wind-as-primary-electricity-source/a-59168105
  23. https://energypost.eu/germany-2021-coal-generation-is-rising-but-the-switch-to-gas-should-continue/
  24. https://www.linkedin.com/in/simon-g%C3%B6%C3%9F-aa98885a/

#UnintendedConsequences #GeorgeErickson #ClimateChange #FissionEnergy #NuclearEnergy #SpentNuclearFuel #MoltenSaltReactor #LFTR #TheThoriumNetwork #Thorium #Fission4All #RadiationIsGood4U #GetYourRadiation2Day #InvisibleFire

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