Interview #1, Prof. Akira Tokuhiro of Ontario Tech University. Part of the Student Guild Interview Series, “Leading to Nuclear”

Bruce Power - A Nuclear Generating Station

World’s first reactor was built in 1942 in Chicago by Enrico Fermi and his team. Since then several hundred nuclear reactors were built, shut downed and rebuilt. For the future, six types of Generation 4 fission machines wait to be born. The world needs the energy to develop and maintain life but above all these reasons there is an essential one: going to Mars and supplying all energy that is needed for life. That’s my priority motivation and purpose for choosing the nuclear area to work. History tells us that “never forget to take lessons from past” and future tells us that “enlighten your ways from your mistakes”. The nuclear accidents that happened in the past led us to Gen 4 designs. As students, we are the ones who determine the nuclear reactor’s destiny. One of the Gen 4 designs is Molten Salt Reactor. We are trying to understand what can we do to design and build a molten salt reactor. We do this by interviewing nuclear experts, engineers all over the world. Come and join our story!

Stagg Field, Chicago Pile 1
Enrico Fermi
Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology

The Student Guild’s first interview was with Professor Akira Tokuhiro. He recently stepped down as the Dean of the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science at Ontario Tech University in Canada. Also, he was in the American Nuclear Society’s President’s Committee on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan. He is an international nuclear energy expert.

President of the Student Guild
The Thorium Network

Interview 001, Prof Akira Tokuhiro of Ontario Tech University – Leading to Nuclear Interview Series

What does nuclear energy expert do?

We do many things. We design Generation 4 (IV) systems. We look at the safety issues of current reactors and reactors that will be constructed. We are always looking for continuous safety improvements. We have 4 questions to be answered about safety and accidents, “what can happen, how often can it happen, how does it happen and what are the consequences?”. We ask these questions and we do the engineering design, safety analysis for that. Now nuclear engineering requires computer programming and engineering analysis. Applications of virtual reality, augmented reality, new applications of artificial intelligence, and machine learning will be used by new nuclear engineers to design and operate reactors.

In one of your interviews, you said “Nuclear reactors are challenging, that’s why I choose the nuclear energy area to work”. What is the most complex and challenging thing in the nuclear area or reactor physics?

For me, the most interesting and challenging thing is you have to know many things. You may find the solution for a small area but nuclear power plant is many different things. If you find a solution for a small area, it may impact other things. That’s why you have to look at many different things and you have to integrate them. That’s challenging for me. That integration that I teach to my students. How do you design a reactor? You design from the reactor core and then outward from the core.

What are the most common safety design features for Gen 4 that at the same time can be used for Gen 3 or Gen 2 reactor safety designs?

We have learned from Generation 2, 3 and 3+ about human factors engineering. There are two things about human beings, one is human beings are unreliable, other is unpredictable. When you apply these to safety systems, you want to design the reactor that minimizes probability for human error. Gen 4 and small modular reactors are designed so that cooling is assured, and do not rely on human operators because they can make mistakes under pressure. You have to design the reactor so that after shutdown decay heat can be removed without human intervention.

What is the biggest problem about safety that must be redesigned immediately now? For example, for PWR Generation 2 designs, what is the biggest safety problem about that reactor, and how can it be redesigned?

My opinion is reactor is designed so that it can shut down when a postulated event occurs. Even if an earthquake happens, the reactor can shut down like the reactors are located at Fukushima. The reactor was shut down after the earthquake. To remove the decay heat that’s remaining, pumps may be required to facilitate cooling for the first 72 hours. After two weeks the decay heat has to be much less. That has to change in all plants. Cooling after shut down is possible, we can do that but we have to make sure that even if we have a terrible earthquake, sufficient cooling has to remove thermal energy from the core. In SMR’s we don’t need pumps, like large reactors; when you have a pump, you also need a source of water in order to maintain cooling to take the heat. The safety problem of Gen 2 and Gen 3 designs is to prevent the meltdown of the core.

“By 2030 or 2035 Gen 4 large reactors or small modular reactors will be built by Russia or China.”

When do you think the first Gen 4 reactor will be built and where will it be built and which design will be built?

I think by 2030 or 2035 some Gen 4 reactors will be built. It may be Gen 4 large reactors but it is also possible that small modular reactor may be built too. It depends on the country. Russia and China have their designs and they are being constructed. It is difficult to call them Gen 4 but recent VVER is an improved design. China is building different kinds of reactors and operating them. So by 2030 or 2035 Gen 4 large reactors or small modular reactors will be built by Russia or China. In the west, new reactors very much depends on investment. For example, in North America before 2035 there will be a small modular reactor constructed and ready to operate as well.

What are your thoughts about thorium molten salt reactors?

Thorium Molten Salt reactors combine interesting reactor design with a fresh look at a new type of fuel. In the least next 3-5 years, we need much more engineering to finish the design and to get the regulatory approval of the completed design. Since my background is from the US, I am familiar with US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and they will importantly ask safety questions about design basis accidents. If you don’t have a pump, as part of the design natural convection cools the reactor so it may be a preferred design. Molten salt reactors are an interesting design and thorium is a different type of fuel. Perhaps by analogy, the nuclear industry is very similar to a restaurant or the automotive sector. You have to have customers and people come to eat at a restaurant. You have to make a popular automobile and people have to trust the safety and they are buying the safety in design that comes with it. Thorium Molten Salt design has to be finished and the design has to convince the regulator that it is a sufficiently safe design and that is constructed.

You are an expert on nuclear safety. Do you think passive safety systems designed for molten salt reactors are sufficient? Are there any other passive systems projects running? Can you please give us the details?

The molten salt reactor concept came from the 1950s and 1960s. Modernized design of the MSR started with Oak Ridge Molten Salt Reactor. (MSRE) They operated a research and demonstration reactor for a few years so fifty years later we are updating this design. I think the concept is solid but needs details; safety cases are convincing. If you have the money and engineers the first step to building a reactor is making a research and demonstration reactor to show that the reactor is very safe. For example, in molten salt reactors, fuel flows in a tank by gravity when an unanticipated event occurs. That is when a PS may be needed. So this means no operator, no human error.

“We need more nuclear power plants because we need a quick transition to a lower CO2 economy or scale.”

About thorium molten salt reactors, what can students do?

Now in the last five years, I think it is very important for students to find friends all over the world and to be interested in solving the challenges posed by climate change. We need to reach net-zero as quickly as possible: even before 2050. I think we have to make progress every five years or it will become very difficult to meet our net-zero carbon economy. We have to make as much progress by 2030. By 2050 we have to make substantial progress or net-zero carbon economy. If we don’t have any progress by 2030 reaching a net-zero carbon economy becomes increasingly difficult. Now we have the power of social media. Students have to ask many questions to old people like me about safety, design. We have to change and seek from the regulator, approval of the new reactors designs. We have a lot of experts from many countries. We already have about 440 nuclear power plants in the world but we need as many as ten times as many reactors to tackle climate change. We need more nuclear power plants because we need a quick transition to a lower CO2 economy or scale. It is not the ultimate solution for climate change but it is a solution that we have now. Young people can become involved through social media and by asking good questions. We need to convince people that by combining nuclear energy, wind, and solar we can reach a net-zero carbon economy. We need nuclear power, it may be risky, but risk and fear are a spectrum. If you think the benefit is greater than the risk then you would do it. People are usually afraid when they don’t understand the risk so they think the risk is very big and the benefit is not so big.

How did you decide to join the Thorium Network? What was the most attractive thing that impressed you about Thorium Network?

I contacted one of the founders Jeremiah Josey. I thought the thorium molten salt reactor is interesting and thorium is an alternative to uranium. It is a network. This network includes many people all around the world. That’s why I joined. The network is a new way to design a reactor.

I had a great time while talking with Professor Tokuhiro. I would like to thank him for his time and perfect answers.

Thorium Network Student Guild continues to inspire people all around the world. Come and join our team! You can find the Student Guild application on this page:

The Student Guild of The Thorium Network

Links and References

  1. Professor Akira Tokuhio on LinkedIn
  2. Rana on Linkedin
  3. The interview on YouTube
  4. Ontario Technical University
  5. Generation IV Fission Technology
  6. Chicago Pile 1
  7. ANS Committee Report: Fukushima Diiachi
  8. Launching “Leading to Nuclear, Interviews by the Thorium Network Student Guild”
  9. The Thorium Student Guild

#ThoriumStudentGuild #LeadingToNuclear #Interview #AkiraTokuhiro #OTU

Launching the Student Guild Interview Series, “Leading to Nuclear”

Nuclear Power Station

We live in a finite world. Our world has a limited time until its end. There are 7.753 billion people who are trying to survive every day out there. Climate change is real and our world continues to warm. If we don’t do something about climate change, we will never live in the same world that we used to live in. Our lives might change completely. We are responsible for all the actions that we have done to the world and nature. So it is time to correct our mistakes and take the action! 

Bill Gates

“Nuclear energy, in terms of an overall safety record, is better than other energy.” 

Bill Gates

We all know that wind and solar are not enough to stop climate change. We need a combination of nuclear, solar, and wind because nuclear energy has zero carbon emissions. That’s what we need! Do your research, ask what you want to ask at the end of the day you will see that nuclear is the only answer. Now we have an even better option which is Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology. It is safe, reachable but needs committed research and development programs worldwide. We need to convince the world that now nuclear power is safer than ever.

Students have the power of changing minds, creating new ideas, and supporting each other. At this point we are going to do all the things that we can do since still we have time. We are going to interview nuclear engineers, nuclear energy experts, and people who are interested in nuclear power to learn how we can reach a net-zero carbon economy with nuclear power. Also, we are going to learn how Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology can be accepted by regulators and what can we do about Thorium-based fuel. We are going to publish blogs about every interview. We interview people as much as we can. This way we will create a new era about Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology and Thorium fuel. It is a long journey but hopefully, at the end of it, we will have smiles on our faces with champagnes in our hands. 

Our first interview is with Professor Akira Tokuhiro of Canada. He recently stepped down as the Dean of the Faculty of Energy Systems and Nuclear Science at Ontario Tech University in Canada. Also, he was in the American Nuclear Society’s President’s Committee on the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident in Japan. As international nuclear energy expert readers of this interview will gain a rare insight few will experience in their lifetime.

Prof. Akira Tokuhiro

Our interview with Professor Tokuhiro will be one of many coming over the next several months as we bring you key insights on an industry rarely discussed outside.

The Student Guild

Thorium Network Student Guild continues to inspire people all around the world. Come and join our team! You can find the Student Guild member application on this page:

The Student Guild of The Thorium Network

Links and References

1. Leading to Nuclear, Interview #1, Prof. Akira Tokurio, Ontario Technical University, Canada
2. Launching “Leading to Nuclear, Interviews by the Thorium Network Student Guild”
3. The Student Guild
4. Rana on Linkedin

#StudentGuild #LeadingToNuclear #Interview #MoltenSaltFissionEnergy #Thorium

One Day in 2050 – A New Dawn Comes

Tree City and Metro

This piece was written as part of the program, created by Jaume Enciso Cachafeiro of Sabadell, Catalonia, Spain. Reach out to Jaume if you want also to contribute.

“Our minds are the most powerful tools we have. Applied correctly, we can achieve anything”

Jeremiah Josey

The sun rises and over a verdant green vista. My home awakes me with the gentle sounds of birds and the curtains slightly to let in the Eastern rising sun. I motion with my hand and the curtains fully open. Other folk have the electrostatic polymer window panes installed but I still like the feel and texture of a material window covering. Even if it is 100% fabricated from grown polymer fibres. Through my windows I see the tops of thousands of trees lit by the brilliant, new, fresh gold of the morning sun. These trees are less than 30 years old and spread as far as I can see.

I also see 5 other residential towers like the one I’m in. Each is 1,000 metres high and with the same 10,000 apartments. All are connected beneath the trees by boulevards and underground maglev personnel pods and shuttle carriages. I can also see the faint steam coming up from several areas among the tees.

That’s why I live here. Cheap electrical energy, and thermal domestic heating. 10 times less than even the cheapest fossil fuel from 30 years ago. Hidden beneath the trees and 20 metres of earth are tiny power generators driven by Thorium Molten Salt Fission Technology. I had a small hand in that – I was one of the scientists in the early design teams.

Safe, clean and green. The power units are entirely replaced every 20 years – even though they have a lifespan of 30. These power units are second generation already. Maybe 40 years they can be here. No overhead cables. No step down transformers. No cooling towers. No fuel lines. No coal conveyor belts. No waste heaps. Wow, what a change.

The supercritical CO2 turbo-machinery was developed by Mitsubishi and Siemens. They are tiny and work for decades with no maintenance. Heck, we are even using Stirling cycle machines in 3 of the power units. Maybe we’ll switch over soon for all of them.

This device produces the same energy output as the one behind. That’s the power of Super Critical CO2

Power generation in 2050 has become easy. No more oil wars, oil blockades, gas transit or border disputes. Each country has access to technology as common as the once common internal combustion engine. 

Thankfully Elon Musk finally killed that infernal fossil driven machine 20 years ago. It’s all electric from here – neutrons to electrons. Everyone is happy. There’s still lots to do: millions have had to move because of rising sea levels. At least now we can build it right.

CEO and Founder, Mr. Jeremiah Josey

Authored by Jeremiah Josey
Founder and CEO of The Thorium Network

3. Media content:
5. GE’s 10MW Supercitical CO2
6. Doug Hofer
7. Vitali Lissianski

Asia leads the way for our Carbon Free Future

With so many nuclear reactors planned (a.k.a. fission energy machines), it’s an obvious outcome for the world in general: clean, green, safe energy production for the most populous region on earth. That means for Asia: clean air, clean water, and clean lives, with… low cost, safe energy. Production efficiency rates in the region will sore. Innovation will eclipse anything we’ve seen before. The environment will become a green wilderness again (remember too China reclaims over 2,000 square km of desert each year). This is the next revolution, after the Industrial, after the Information. It’s the Energy Revolution. And it’s very exciting to be part of it.

Remember, we all breath the same air.

Jeremiah Josey
Founder and CEO

#EnergyRevolution #greenenergy # #energy #innovation #thorium #moltensaltfissiontechnology

All the colours of the rainbow – a fad for Hydrogen

Nuclear Power under the Rainbow

I love all the colours chosen for a gas that has none. There is no smell either. Pink, green, blue, grey, black, yellow, white, maroon… I’m making them up now, but it doesn’t matter. There is an odour coming from this “new hydrogen economy”.  Hydrogen is not an “energy source”. It’s how we can transport energy. From where it’s made to where it’s consumed. The colours are a clever way of identifying the source of the energy before conversion into hydrogen. But be clear, hydrogen is not a “fuel” that replaces “fossil fuels”. Lithium is useless until energised in a Li-Ion battery. Hydrogen is useless until you make it, or rather separate it, from it’s most common bonded atomic partner – Oxygen. Then again I do enjoy a good drink of oxidised hydrogen. The most common form of hydrogen on earth – water – is not useless at all.

Hydrogen on the surface is “better” than hydrocarbons. It has twice the energy density. Fossil fuels, incidentally are stores of energy: you dig them up, or pump them out, and immediately convert them to heat. Remember that our most common need for energy is low cost heat. Hydrogen as a fuel is yet to find that low cost convertibility to a low priced, abundant fuel. It is easier to transport the energy via electrons, than lug around a much heavier proton with a electron attached to it.

For pipes and storage tanks, the metallurgy of hydrogen makes problems because it can embrittle many materials. It’s a very small molecule and creeps into all kinds of places. Hydrogen has a very wide explosive range: 4 to 74%, and will ignite with sunlight. It’s tricky stuff to work with.

I don’t see hydrogen becoming anything other than another energy distraction. Much the same way that ethanol was 20 years ago. But we are not adept at learning from our mistakes. There will be regions that will benefit for reasons other than are written here.

Hydrogen has a very wide explosive range: 4 to 74%, and will ignite with sunlight. It’s tricky stuff to work with.

Thorium Molten Salt Fission Energy technology making electricity is a viable proposition. The technology hurdles where identified and addressed more than 50 years ago.  Yes, hydrogen production using Molten Salt Technology is a very viable option – where it is needed. The Energy Return on Investment (EROI) of energy from Molten Salt Fission Energy Technology is 30 times better than any oil equivalent and 512 times better than wind and solar. (Anyone remember fuel ethanol? The EROI is somewhere between 0.9 and 1.1 – pitiful).

Let those numbers sink in… That’s where you’ll find the real gold at the end of the rainbow.

Jeremiah Josey
Founder, The Thorium Network