Experts from 17 countries laid the foundations last week for enhanced international cooperation on a technology that promises to deliver nuclear power with a lower risk of severe accidents, helping to decrease the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change. Molten salt reactors – nuclear power reactors that use liquid salt as primary coolant or a molten salt mixture as fuel – have many favourable characteristics for nuclear safety and sustainability. The concept was developed in the 1960s, but put aside in favour of what has become mainstream nuclear technology since. In recent years, however, technological advances have led to growing interest in molten salt technology and to the launch of new initiatives. The technology needs at least a decade of further intensive research, validation and qualification before commercialization. “It is the first time a comprehensive IAEA international meeting on molten salt reactors has ever taken place,” said Stefano Monti, Head of the Nuclear Power Development Section at the IAEA. “Given the interest of Member States, the IAEA could provide a platform for international cooperation and information exchange on the development of these advanced nuclear systems.” Molten salt reactors operate at higher temperatures, making them more efficient in generating electricity. In addition, their low operating pressure can reduce the risk of coolant loss, which could otherwise result in an accident. Molten salt reactors can run on various types of nuclear fuel and use different fuel cycles. This conserves fuel resources and reduces the volume, radiotoxicity and lifetime of high-level radioactive waste.
i like the idea of small modular units with focus on easier maintenance/reconditioning
i'm hopeful that eventually something like this will be available
ThorCon is a simple molten salt reactor. Unlike all current reactors, the fuel is in liquid form. If the reactor overheats for whatever reason, ThorCon will automatically shut itself down, drain the fuel from the primary loop, and passively handle the decay heat. There is no need for any operator intervention. In fact there is nothing the operators can do to prevent the drain and cooling. ThorCon is walkaway safe.
The ThorCon reactor is 30 m underground. ThorCon has four gas tight barriers between the fuelsalt and the atmosphere. Three of these barriers are more than 25 m underground. Unlike nearly all current reactors, ThorCon operates at near-ambient pressure. In the event of a primary loop rupture, there is no dispersal energy and no phase change. The spilled fuel merely flows to a drain tank where it is cooled. The most troublesome fission products, including strontium-90 and cesium-137, are chemically bound to the salt. They will end up in the drain tank as well.
No New Technology
ThorCon is all about NOW. ThorCon requires no new technology. ThorCon is a straightforward scale-up of the successful Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE). The MSRE is ThorCon’s pilot plant. There is no technical reason why a full-scale 250 MWe prototype cannot be operating within four years. The intention is to subject this prototype to all the failures and problems that the designers claim the plant can handle. This is the commercial aircraft model, not the Nuclear Regulatory Commission model. As soon as the prototype passes these tests, full-scale production can begin.
The entire ThorCon plant including the building is manufactured in blocks on a shipyard-like assembly line. These 150 to 500 ton, fully outfitted, pre-tested blocks are barged to the site. A 1 GWe ThorCon will require less than 200 blocks. Site work is limited to excavation and erecting the blocks. This produces order of magnitude improvements in productivity, quality control, and build time. ThorCon is much more than a power plant; it is a system for building power plants. A single large reactor yard can turn out one hundred 1 GWe ThorCons per year.
No complex repairs are attempted on site. Everything in the nuclear island except the building itself is replaceable with little or no interruption in power output. Rather than attempt to build components that last 40 or more years in an extremely harsh environment with nil maintenance, ThorCon is designed to have all key parts regularly replaced. Every four years the entire primary loop is changed out, returned to a centralized recycling facility, decontaminated, disassembled, inspected, and refurbished. Incipient problems are caught before they can turn into casualties. Major upgrades can be introduced without significantly disrupting power generation. Such renewable plants can operate indefinitely; but, if a ThorCon is decommissioned, the process is little more than pulling out but not replacing all the replacable parts.
Cheaper than Coal
ThorCon requires less resources than a coal plant. Assuming efficient, evidence based regulation, ThorCon can produce reliable, carbon free, electricity at between 3 and 5 cents per kWh depending on scale.
By Roger HarrabinEnvironment analyst, Halden in Norway
Nuclear scientists are being urged by the former UN weapons inspector Hans Blix to develop thorium as a new fuel.
Mr Blix says that the radioactive element may prove much safer in reactors than uranium.
It is also more difficult to use thorium for the production of nuclear weapons.
His comments will add to growing levels of interest in thorium, but critics warn that developing new reactors could waste public funds.
Mr Blix, the former Swedish foreign minister, told BBC News: "I’m a lawyer not a scientist but in my opinion we should be trying our best to develop the use of thorium. I realise there are many obstacles to be overcome but the benefits would be great.
"I am told that thorium will be safer in reactors - and it is almost impossible to make a bomb out of thorium. These are very major factors as the world looks for future energy supplies."
Location: 543 miles west of Paradis,1491 miles eas Gender:
May 3, 2013 - 6:36am
yes he is
if you've got a moment
please watch this
and especially this
The first is so true...The second is brilliantly presented, thanks for sharing these...It is so sad how things have not evolved in a way to keep that fire to excel burning within our young people...Everything seems to be down to the lowest common denominator now.
Here's the abstract from an American Scientist article from July 2010.
When the United States committed decades ago to uranium fuel and pressurized-water reactors for its nuclear program, other viable technologies were set aside. One, the liquid thorium fuel reactor with molten salt coolant, is re-emerging as potentially the safest, most cost-effective solution to future energy needs in the carbon-containment era. Thorium is abundant, produces far less toxic fission products than uranium and may soon compete with coal for cost per kilowatt-hour. The chemistry of thorium fission is compelling, and the engineering of thorium reactors, with a longer history than most people realize, appears to be seductively manageable.