), Instead of thorium, a Molten Salt Reactor can use uranium-235 or plutonium waste, from LWR and other reactors. A large share of the radioactive shielding in LWR systems is achieved by water in the primary system and around the reactor pressure vessel. In 2004, the proposed cost for a new prototype system in the United States were listed as being “less than $1 billion” with operational costs of about $100 million per year. It does mention thorium on the page but not for this reactor. After a few years, radioactive decay brings them below background radiation, ready for use. SMART THORIUM Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. (We’ve been mainly using the Light Water Reactor, LWR, with solid fuel in pellets cooled by high-pressure water.). Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) took the lead in researching MSRs through the 1960s. What is a Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor? There are several types of nuclear reactor possible, that can fission All that uranium, plutonium, and other transuranic elements. In a light water reactor the fuel cost form a large share of the operating costs, but they hardly impact the electricity price, which is determined by capital costs, and infrastructure improvements enforced by ever changing regulations. An important reason for the higher costs of LWR’s is in the nuclear power plant construction. But some authors argue that construction cost only explains a modest part of the capital cost required for nuclear power: a substantial part of the capital cost for nuclear power plants to the mandatory licensing costs. MSRs are less expensive and more environmentally friendly than other sources of base-load power or grid power storage, needed to supplement wind and/or solar power. The concrete is mainly there for shielding, it has no pressure containment function, and hence quality requirements are more modest, but quite a lot will be needed. A LFTR containment building would protect the reactor from outside impacts, and have extra radiation shielding, but would be much smaller and less expensive than a LWR containment building. Thorium-MSR’s higher efficiency is due to its higher operating temperature of around 700 °C. Fuel Thorium and uranium fluoride solution 4. Carbon dioxide in the air enters the oceans, making acid. One concept is a hardened concrete facility below ground with a concrete lid on ground level to protect it from aircraft impact and other possible forms of assault. Another factor relevant to the cost per kWh is that thorium-MSR’s are expected to perform with higher efficiency, due to their higher operating temperature of up to 700 °C. The challenge however will be to get past the initial cost. Image “How Does a Fluoride Reactor Use Thorium” is from PDF Kirk Sorensen – Thorium Energy Alliance. (Scroll to see all) Molten Fuel; Salt Cooled; Inherent Safety; Easy Construction & Siting; Lower Cost; Industrial Heat. Contact Me. How Much Industrial Heat can Molten Salt Reactors Make? Fuel can be added as needed, to keep the fuel density steady (just above the minimum to maintain fission). PDF Kirk Sorensen – Thorium Energy Alliance. The reactor was shut down every 8 days because the design did not allow the salt to be drained in the event of an accident. There are reasons to assume that construction costs of thorium-MSR-based power plants will be lower. From Wikipedia: The expected cost for the two reactors is $14 billion. ), Most of the fission products are valuable for industrial use. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium. Their approach to handling the high licensing cost of molten salt reactors is to basically license a single design, then stick to that design. Molten Salt Reactors vs India’s Advanced Heavy Water Reactor, Economics of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. 83% of the fission byproducts are safe in 10 years, 17% (135 kg, 300 lbs) within 350 years, with no uranium or plutonium left as waste. However the cost of machining tools, remote maintenance of radioactive primary systems and decommissioning were still unsure at the time (MacPherson, 1985), (Weinberg, 1994). Soil contains an average of around 6 parts per million (ppm) of thorium. The molten fuel then drains to passive cooling tanks where fission is impossible; Even if something (e.g. ... We are developing Thorium fission which poses considerable further benefits in terms of low cost and high safety. Liquid fluoride thorium reactor. This way, the LFTR uses/recycles 99% of its fuel while other reactors can drop to as low as 2%. Higher fission rate increases the temperature, which makes the fuel salt less dense, lowering the fission rate — all Molten Salt Reactors are. Herbert MacPherson, who was in charge of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment at the time, is even more specific in his cost estimation. (Using thorium in a solid fueled, water cooled reactor, such as India is doing, does not give the safety and waste-reducing benefits of a molten fueled, salt cooled reactor.). Researchers are exploring methods of using MSR heat to extract CO2 from solid materials containing a lot of CO2, store the carbon and release or use the oxygen, and then we could put those CO2-absorbing materials into the ocean to remove CO2 from the water. A slightly different type of MSR can consume the uranium/plutonium waste from solid-fueled reactors as fuel. Annual fuel cost for 1-GW reactor … It is a completely different nuclear reactor than we have been using, with molten fuel cooled by stable salts. LFTRs also can generate carbon-neutral vehicle fuels, from water and carbon dioxide (from the atmosphere or ocean or large CO2 sources such as coal plants). Total to develop LFTR technology and a factory to mass-produce them, will be less than the $10-12 Billion cost of a. World resources of Thorium would last for some thousands of years, making it a truly sustainable form of energy. Georgia power’s share is around $6.1 billion, while “remaining ownership of the two reactors is split among Oglethorpe Power Corp., the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG Power), and Dalton Utilities”. 80% of the new reactors being built are being built in or by China, South Korea and Russia. LFTR updates recently include DOE GAIN funding vouchers awarded in 2018 and 2019 to Flibe Energy. (Hargraves & Moir, 2010) . The MIT study “The Future of Nuclear Power” puts capital costs for coal plants at $2,30 per watt and nuclear power at $4,00 per watt. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor is a type of Molten Salt Reactor. (As a bonus, the rare earth materials we currently mine are almost always found with thorium, which is currently considered a “nuclear waste” though it has one of the lowest levels of radiation of any radioactive material, radiation stopped by a thin layer of plastic or paper; when we use MSR we mine a little less rare earth materials and leave a little less thorium “waste”. (Compare to LWR: $50-60 Million/yr.) The Thorium Molten Salt Reactor website is a publication of the Stichting Thorium MSR, In depth: LFTR, the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. The acid is already killing plankton and other ocean life: the carbonic acid dissolves their “shells”. I'm guessing it was their day off. Perhaps these technical problems can be overcome, but why would anyone bother to try, knowing in advance that the MSR plant will be uneconomic due to huge construction costs and operating costs, plus will explode and rain radioactive molten salt when (not if) the steam generator tubes leak. Also, the reactor in question was a liquid flouride uranium rather than thorium reactor. Molten Salt Reactors have no high pressure to contain (no water coolant), and generate no combustible or chemically explosive materials; A simple Freeze Plug melts in any emergency or for maintenance. It contains no super-heated pressurized water, and hence will not need this large dome. Ambient-pressure operation makes MSRs easier to build while costing less (no high-pressure steam containment building, no high-pressure pipes); Operating cost is less since the inherent safety of MSR means less complex systems than the LWR (every LWR requires multiple-redundant high-pressure systems); Fuel cost is lower since no manufacturing fuel pellets (LWR pellets have to contain fission products under very high pressure) or fuel rods. Instead of using water, MSR could produce heat to efficiently desalinate water for drinking or farming. To produce 1 gigawatt electricity for a year, takes 800kg to 1000kg of thorium or uranium/plutonium “waste”. 310,311). The salts cost roughly $150/kg, and … Thorium Converts to Uranium Inside the Reactor, LFTRs Do Not Need High Pressure Containment, No Water Needed for LFTRs, and no Loss of Coolant Accidents, Useful LFTR Fission By-Products, for Industry and Medicine, Manufacturing LFTRs Easier than Other Reactors, Solving Technical Challenges in Building LFTRs. With sufficient R&D funding (around US $1 billion), five years to commercialization is entirely realistic (including construction of factories, less than US $5 Billion), and another five years for a national roll-out is feasible. In his memoirs, Alvin Weinberg, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory at the time of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, cites from his 1964 ‘State of the Lab’ year-end speech. Thorium is highly abundant in relativity to uranium. This is comparable to car licensing: the license is granted to a type. Other factors relevant to the cost profile are that a thorium-MSR can do without expensive emergency coolant injection systems, lower fuel costs (natural thorium instead of enriched uranium, no need for fuel element fabrication), simpler fuel handling (liquid fuel, no periodic shutdowns needed to replace solid fuel elements), smaller components, and a much higher energy efficiency. Standardized, modular designs will be crucial for developing cost competitive nuclear reactors, regardless of the technology used. The 500MW molten salt nuclear reactor: Safe, half the price of light water, and shipped to order. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is an innovative design for the thermal breeder reactor that has important potential benefits over the traditional reactor design. The cost has largely been solved and transmission/storage solutions will be deployed as needed. Weinberg’s words also apply to the subject of the cost of the power produced by future thorium MSR’s. The liquid fluoride thorium reactor (acronym LFTR; often pronounced lifter) is a type of molten salt reactor.LFTRs use the thorium fuel cycle with a fluoride-based, molten, liquid salt for fuel.In a typical design, the liquid is pumped between a critical core and an external heat exchanger where the heat is transferred to a nonradioactive secondary salt. In 1970 MSR was estimated to have 1% of capital cost compared to the LWR. 800kg of nuclear waste would work in the same reactor instead of 800kg thorium, with about the same fission byproducts, and the same electrical output. In addition, the primary system is pressurized and primary system system failure is a severe safety accident, causing the primary steel components to be overdimensioned and constructed and tested following the highest quality standards available. Need to communicate your complex information clearly? Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors An old idea in nuclear power gets reexamined Robert Hargraves and Ralph Moir Robert Hargraves teaches energy policy at the Institute for Lifelong Education at Dartmouth College. MSRs can be safely built close to where there is electrical need (10MW to 2GW or more), avoiding transmission line power loss. Conventional nuclear fission reactors are the safest energy in terms of deaths per terawatt hour. MSRs make no long-term nuclear waste (over 99% of the fuel is fissioned, not left as waste), unlike LWR (only 2-3% of the fuel is fissioned). Without needing a huge steam containment building (since there is no high pressure and no steam), MSRs such as LFTR use a much smaller site. As was stated above, it is impossible to either confirm or reject such claims where it concerns untried reactors. This philosophy basically states that cost is something that should be designed for from the outset. These differences create design difficulties and trade-offs: The thorium-232 captures neutrons from the reactor core to become protactinium-233, which decays (27-day half-life) to U-233. Most MSR designs, including LFTR, use over 99% of the fuel. Nevertheless, some statements regarding the cost bandwidth of MSR’s are worth noting. No High-Pressure Coolant? In case of a thorium MSR, 3,2 kilograms of thorium per day needs to be mined to produce the same amount of energy. Most other fission products are easily chemically separated from the circulating fuel salt. But some experts say new technologies, such as molten salt reactors, including liquid fluoride thorium reactors, are much safer and more efficient than today’s conventional reactors. The rest of the uranium is considered “waste”, to be stored for over 100,000 years. (Storing CO2 in a solid would work; storing compressed CO2 underground has a huge risk of leaks that would suffocate life on the surface.). The objective of the liquid-fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR) design proposed by Flibe Energy [] is to develop a nuclear power plant that will produce electrical energy at low cost. Since no MSR uses water for cooling, there is no storage of water containing radioactive materials, and no concern of stored radioactive water leaking. We know Molten Salt Reactors work since we built and operated one — decades ago! Flibe’s liquid fluoride thorium reactor is expected to cost several hundred million dollars to build. It contains U-232 that can lead to a formation a strong gamma radiation field. LFTRs could even be deployed for military field use or disaster relief. A Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is a type of Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) that can use inexpensive Thorium for fuel (thorium becomes uranium inside the reactor). (God didn’t make “useful uranium” and “defective uranium”; it’s the reactor design of LWR that only uses ~2% of the fuel, and that is after enrichment.). Ralph Moir has published 10 papers on molten-salt reactors during Some of these are historic, like the remark that Alvin Weinberg makes, a few lines after the reference to his 1964 speech: “I personally had concluded that the commercial success of nuclear power would have to await the development of the breeder” (in his memoirs, Weinberg uses the word ‘breeder’ when referring to thorium MSR’s). It is already in a chemically stable form as a fluoride. The total cost of developing MSR technology and building assembly line production (like assembly line production of aircraft or ships, with better safety standards than is achievable with on-site construction, at much lower cost) will be much less than the Fuel input per gigawatt output 1 ton raw thorium 5. “…extreme caution is necessary whenever one speaks of untried reactors”. Another factor relevant to the cost per kWh is that thorium-MSR’s are expected to perform with higher efficiency, due to their higher operating temperature of up to 700 °C. (In a MSR designed to use a different salt than LFTR would use, the zirconium cladding of a fuel rod could even be used to make the salt coolant.). The Forum on Physics and Society (FPS) is a forum of the American Physical Society, organized in 1971 to address issues related … They all automatically follow the load, meaning that if less heat is used there is less fission producing heat. Thorium is a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. Once in production, the authorities need only check if a specific car sticks to the design. A proven and highly promising thorium reactor technology is the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR; pronounced lifter) in which the fuel and coolant are one and the same, circulated either by gravity, or by pump. LFTR is fluoride based liquid fuel, that use the thorium dissolved in salt mixture of lithium fluoride and beryllium fluoride. Higher temperatures are favourable for conversion of thermal to electrical energy, leading to conversion efficiencies of 45%-50% instead of the 33% typical for coal and traditional nuclear power plants. Conventional nuclear can be built at very low cost. That is because nuclear fuel in the liquid fluoride form rather than in the solid oxide form has distinct advantages. It can potentially produce valuable products in addition to electrical energy that will enhance its competitiveness relative to low-cost natural gas and petroleum. This will not only involve the designing and building the first thorium MSR, it will also involve setting up a proper licensing framework, which will be largely design specific, and requires the initiation of the thorium fuel cycle. The high temperature also allows for excess heat to be used for powering other industrial processes such as hydrogen production and desalination. Higher temperatures are favourable for conversion of thermal to electrical energy, leading to conversion efficiencies of 45%-50% instead of the 33% typical for coal and traditional nuclear power plants. No “PUREX reprocessing” needed, simply extract the uranium and plutonium (including fission products) from the fuel rod, and put it in a MSR. Thorium can be employed in a variety of reactor types, some of which currently use uranium—including heavy water reactors like Canada’s CANDU. Would Molten Salt Reactors Really Prevent Fukushima Disaster? Discussion in 'Energy, Environment, and Policy ... transmission and storage. Convert 800kg to be stored for 100,000+ years, into 135kg to store for 350 years and 665kg for 10 years. The fuel cost is significantly lower than a solid-fuel reactor. MSRE was a 7.4 MW th test reactor simulating the neutronic "kernel" of a type of epithermal thorium molten salt breeder reactor called the liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR). One might argue that an MSR prototype successfully operated from 1965-1969, which was indeed the case, but the present day licensing procedure has not yet taken place. LFTRs are quite unlike today's operating commercial power reactors. Any leftover radioactive waste cannot be used to create weaponry. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor3. What’s Better than Storing Nuclear Waste? What is a Molten Salt Reactor? One of the companies mentioned above displays a cost philosophy that is not specific to any design. (MSR can transfer heat to existing equipment such as steam generators, for example replacing the boiler at a coal plant, but doesn’t use water anywhere in the reactor.) (Unfortunately, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says they will start writing licensing and regulations in 30 years. Build 100MW LFTRs on assembly lines: ~$200 Million. Economics of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. Some of the fission products, those that block fission the most, are gasses — in LWR they are carefully trapped in the pellets, in MSR they bubble right out of the fuel salt and are collected. The high temperature also allows for excess heat to be used for powering other industrial processes such as hydrogen production and desalination. This not only prevents cost savings based on standard designs, it also is a tremendous driver of licensing costs. Reactors would commonly be located several meters underground. In addition to delivering carbon-free electricity, LFTRs high temperature output can desalinate water (which we need in some areas even more than electricity, and we will need more as the world population grows). The total cost of developing MSR technology and building assembly line production (like assembly line production of aircraft or ships, with better safety standards than is achievable with on-site construction, at much lower cost) will be much less than the $10-$12 Billion for a single new solid-fueled water-cooled reactor or single nuclear waste disposal plant. LWR uses ~2% of the fuel, because fission products trapped in the fuel pellets block fission, and the pellets get damaged by radiation and pressure. Easy siting, no large water source needed, no large safety zone required (because there is no water and no high pressure). Thorium is very insoluble, which is why it is plentiful in sands but not in seawater, in contrast to uranium. The molten fuel expands/contracts with temperature changes. [ 1] The thermodynamic efficiency through the usage of a closed Brayton Cycle can approach around 54% due to the high temperatures the LFTRs run at [1] By Graham Templeton on March 13, 2013 at 10:33 am; Comment LFTR – A Nuclear Reactor That Can’t Melt Down? The first two units are rated for a total of 2,400 MW. (Fast-spectrum molten salt reactors (FS-MSR) can use all isotopes of uranium, not just the 0.7% U-235 in natural uranium — with all the safety and stability of MSR.) Transatomic Power Corporation (Massachusetts USA) Founded in 2010, Transatomic is the only company which has disclosed their funding amounts, 3 rounds totaling $5.5 million from investors that included Peter Thiel. The LFTR reactor works by combining thorium and uranium dissolved in liquid fluoride, lithium, and beryllium and starting a cycle that replenishes these elements with chemical combinations. Molten Salt Reactors can be designed to output wide ranges of heat, for different industrial processes. Fuel for 1GW electricity in a LFTR or any MSR: $10,000/yr. A thorium-MSR operates at atmospheric pressure. It has been suggested that based on its size and design, it may be feasible to produce 100 megawatt thorium-MSR’s factories for around $200 million apiece, similar to the way Boeing produces large aircraft in factories, which would come down to at $2,00 per watt, lower than the capital cost of a coal power plant. Well, that is waste only if we only use LWR, or similar solid-fueled types of nuclear reactors. For a LFTR, thorium is a cheap, plentiful fuel; (other MSR designs could eliminate LWR waste by using it as fuel); For a LFTR, no expensive enrichment is required, simply add solid or molten thorium or plutonium to the molten fuel; for a thermal-spectrum MSR use low-enriched uranium; for a fast-spectrum MSR, un-enriched or depleted uranium can be used.
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