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.

Rana
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.

Rana,
President
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, Interiew #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

Fission Energy for Across Africa – a Vision of 2050

Affica

A Land of Plenty

The African continent is a behemoth of people, resources and potential. The area of the combined 58 countries and regions is 1.8 times larger than Russia; 3 times larger than the European Union; and 84 times larger than Germany. The 1.3 billion people living in Africa (16% of the worlds’ population) have available to them a combined power generating capacity of ~230 GW. This equates to about 1,500 kWh per person per year in energy consumption.

A Billion More People

Over the next 30 years there will be another 1 billion new people born on the African continent. Africa will be the youngest and most dynamic region on earth. With global “peak child” happening in 2014 (a demonstrable fact) the number of children coming to the planet has plateaued and will remain that way for the foreseeable future as societies improve their living standards and reduce the size of families. This is also so in Africa, yet the population will grow no matter what. Furthermore, the African continent will hold more than 3 billion people by 2100.

And energy will be the prime enabler to provide those billions with a decent quality of life.


Improving Lifestyle means Increasing Energy Consumption

South Africa has the highest energy consumption per person, at 4,100 kWh per year. Yet this is still below the 5,500 kWh average across Europe. Further across the continent it is clear that some countries lack basic energy infrastructure to bring energy to their people.

Let’s assume that by 2050 the present average of 1,500 kWh per person per year increases to 3,000 kWh*. Thus the total energy generation capacity becomes almost 800 GW. Thus 570 GW of new power generating capacity is required to be built from now to 2050.

*This means a 50 MW ‘burner’ will produce the energy needed for about 150,000 people.

Sting on Nuclear energy
Sting on Nuclear energy

Avoiding the Renewables Trap

The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative planned to install 10 GW of wind and solar by 2020 (achieved) and 300 GW of wind and solar by 2030. But they are forgetting Germany’s failed 20 year experiment in wind and solar. In Germany, CO2 levels are unchanged and electricity prices have doubled. Now Germany is planning to restart coal fired power stations. The reason is simple. When considering all factors, wind and solar are simply not viable. This is best illustrated by the Energy Return on Investment ratio, or EROI. This bar chart is developed from the Berlin Institute for Solid-State Nuclear Physics (Institut für Festkörper-Kernphysik) and available on the Australian government’s nuclear scientist’s website. The Energy Return on Investment Ratio is a macro level indicator of the overall usefulness of the energy derived from any particular form. How many units of energy can be recovered for each unit of energy expended. The EROI of wind and solar (3.9 and 1.6 respectively) fails miserably when compared to coal (30), gas (28) and existing solid-fuel nuclear fission (75). But our focus is the literal purple elephant in the room – Molten Salt Fission Technology. It’s EROI is 2000 to 1! With such a significant obvious benefit, over all other forms of energy production, it is only a matter of time before the genie is out of the bottle.

Thus as the reality of low value return on wind and solar is realised, Molten Salt Technology (and other small modular reactors using traditional solid fuels) will gain traction to fill the growing requirements of Africa’s energy needs.


A New Paradigm of Industrial Growth

One can imagine a fleet of up to 5,000 small modular Molten Salt Fission machines each with a capacity of 100 MW installed strategically across Africa.  Creating a decentralised, distributed power generation system. Some sites will be larger or smaller than others, driven by  domestic electricity demands. With the power facilities having a fuelled lifespan exceeding 30 years, it is quite easy to see energy as no longer an issue across the African continent.

Integrated Industrial Zone Powered by Molten Salt courtesy of Figes
Integrated Industrial Zone Powered by Molten Salt courtesy of Figes

But it goes further. Whilst reliable 24/7 power from Molten Salt Fission machines provides ample energy for domestic needs, the technology supports industrial growth and development. 1 GW and larger power installations are able to drive industries reliant on both heat and power. Facilities of this size could lead to industrial parks such as the one here envisaged by government energy and industrial development planners in Turkey.


A Positive Future

Africa Blockchain

The people of Africa have a bright future ahead for them. With technologies tried and true from western spheres, the people of Africa can select and choose the most appropriate and most suitable means to improve their quality of life. For themselves and for their children. Molten Salt Fission energy technology is a strong contender for the energy mix of Africa.

CEO and Founder, Mr. Jeremiah Josey

Authored by Jeremiah Josey
Founder and CEO
The Thorium Network

Links and References

  1. African power generation https://www.statista.com/statistics/1229517/installed-renewables-and-fossil-fuels-generation-capacity-in-africa-by-energy-source/
  2. Energy Consumption across Africa https://www.indexmundi.com/facts/indicators/eg.use.elec.kh.pc/map/africa
  3. Hans Rosling, 2015, Why the world population won’t exceed 11 billion https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LyzBoHo5EI
  4.  IEA Africa Energy Outlook 2019 https://www.iea.org/reports/africa-energy-outlook-2019
  5. African Renewable Energy Initiative https://media.un.org/en/asset/k1q/k1qnk48vzo
  6. https://stopthesethings.com/2021/04/25/big-backpedal-a-week-after-shutting-its-coal-fired-plants-germany-forced-to-reopen-them/
  7. Australian government nuclear science organisation https://www.ansto.gov.au/our-science/nuclear-fuel-cycle/advanced-nuclear-reactors/evolution-of-molten-salt-reactors
  8. https://figes.com.tr/

THE STUDENT GUILD – WHO ARE WE?

Hi folks! You may not know who I am. I am just a girl who wants to change the world but of course in a good way because this is what engineers do they turn dreams into realities. We all grow with superhero stories and always think that the world needs a Superman to be survived. The hero has arrived. His name is Thorium Fuel Molten Salt Reactor. Let’s all agree on one thing and continue to move on our journey: Nuclear is the only way to stop climate change!

PRESIDENT OF THE STUDENT GUILD – RANA ÖNEM

Hi, everyone. My name is Fatma. I am a 4th-year student at the Department of Nuclear Energy Engineering at Hacettepe University, Turkey. I am working as a secretary of the Student Guild of The Thorium Network. I think that Thorium Molten Salt Reactors are safer and more eco-friendly compared to other reactor types. Therefore, Thorium Molten Salt Reactors may be one of the most preferred reactor types of the future.

SECRETARY OF THE STUDENT GUILD – FATMA GÖNEN


Hi, I’m Veli. I’m a senior student of nuclear engineering. I love chemistry and the elements. Since I am a nuclear engineer, I have a special interest in Thorium. I would like to be in a position related to the processing of Thorium in the future. I also work as a treasurer of the student guild of The Thorium Network. I believe that The Thorium Network will guide me. That’s why I’m eagerly working on The Thorium Network.

TREASURER OF THE STUDENT GUILD – VELİ KARTAL

To reach us and see more details go here: https://thethoriumnetwork.com/join-us/student-guild/

And remember to support The Guild via Patreon for only €85 per month.

Go here to do that: https://www.patreon.com/posts/59838297

Can a knife alone be dangerous?

Green Earth

Who knows what is absolutely right?

Can a knife alone be dangerous? Who instilled in us the mindset of what is dangerous. What is wrong or right? Is this an inner belief or idea or is it rooted in our culture? Yes, I say that this knife, which in our opinion is a simple tool, may end someone’s life! 

What about nuclear energy? Can this concept or rather a misconception be generalized to nuclear energy? I say yes! Without a doubt, everything in this world can show two sides, positive and negative. Nuclear energy is no exception. Actually, It is our way of thinking that distinguishes right from wrong. If we learn how to use something properly, then we will always use its positive potential.

Now, if we base our criteria on the proper use of anything, we will find out that the environmental problems caused by common fossil fuels that have formed in our minds as safe fuels will act as the same knife. In the validation, they will be in a lower position than renewable energies like nuclear energy and we will eventually find out which to choose between not enjoying healthy air or a misconception about nuclear energy.

Sometimes we need to solve a problem radically and temporary solutions will work in the short term but what about the long term?

So we can not categorically reject nuclear energy and approve fossil fuels because we have a logical reason to reject fossil fuels and that would be environmental pollution!…. We are now witnessing its destructive effects on our surroundings!

Sometimes we need to solve a problem radically and temporary solutions will work in the short term but what about the long term? What solution will we have? This is the relationship between the environment and clean energy.

Now we come to cultivate an idea … an idea that needs collective support and that is Thorium nuclear energy… By the laws of physics, without any military or destructive purposes as clean and alternative energy that can be produced for thousands of years, and most importantly Thorium molten salt machines are the safest type of technology available. 

You may think, these are easy on paper but hard to do…but I say not impossible!

So we find that what matters is how we use the tools that we have, not just the nature of it. This is how the same simple knife can be beneficial in its way. Now you can see how the impossible can be made possible by changing the nature of a concept and flourishing it and that is why we are here and this is our main mission!

Much Love, Mona A

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

Minerals Council of Australia issues report on Small Modular Reactors – Molten Salt is featured

Australia has committed to buying up to 8 small modular reactors*. It is conceivable to envisage similar technology rolling out across the country to produce SAFE, reliable, green energy. Thus, with a little imagination, one can envisage a burgeoning Thorium industry. And also eventual production of Safe clean fission energy from Molten Salt technologies. The imagination then expands further to the concept of a booming domestic vertical Rare Earths industry. With Boeing making UAVs in Toowoomba (Australia), how much of each aircraft could be supplied from ingenious, locally processed materials? Bringing it down to earth, how competitive would domestic EV and batteries industries become for export with local strategic supplies?

The mind boggles.

C’est la vie.

*Technically, these small modular reactors have a capacity of about 200MWt. They will probably be “9th generation” and hence have millions of safe operating hours behind them. Whilst the basis of the AUSUK decision is incorrect, the opportunities for correction open immensely.

Meanwhile, our consulting division, SAFE Fission Consult(TM), holds some of the brightest and experienced minds in the fission world. We are preparing countries for Safe Fission Energy:

See the article here:

https://www.minerals.org.au/news/small-modular-reactors-should-be-part-australia%E2%80%99s-energy-mix

Full credit to Adelaide based Dr. Ben Heard of Frazer-Nash Consultancy for producing the report.

The full report is here: