Scaling the LFTR: Large Scale Production and Cost
It seems clear that the LFTR cam be highly scalable. The potential exists to manufacture hundreds and even thousand’s of LFTRs a year on factory assembly lines. The LFTR would be smaller and less complex than an Airbus 380. The finished LFTR meed not be completed at the assembly factor. Rather the LFTR can be built in several large modules, that can be rapidly assembled like legoes at the generation site. The LFTR could be ships as perhaps a half dozen submodules, plus an assembly kit, with whatever parts are needed to connect the submodules to each other. On site assembly can be added by labor saving machines and need not require a prolonged amount of time to accomplish. Thus the entire LFTR manufacturing process need not require more than a few months from the beginning of parts manufacture, to the spinning up of the turbines to begin power delivery.
Factory capacity would be determined by demand for LFTR. Graphite free cores capable of servicing a LFTR system with 400 MWe, may be easily transportable, given David LeBlanc’s ingenious graphite free design. David assures me that it is possible to build graphite free LFTRs that require relatively small start up charges. If so factory manufacture of 400 MWe LFTRs would be quite plausible. The electrification of the American economy plus provision for supplying all required industrial process heat could probably be supplied by factory manufacture of three hundred 400 MWe LFTRs every year. This would be a large, but by no means impossible undertaking. Alternatively were we to prefer smaller graphite LFTRs, we could do the same job with twelve hundred 100 MWe units. Again the size of the job would by no means prove impossible.
The manufacture of 120 Billion Watts of LFTR a year is a large but manageable industrial task.. An Airbus 380, a very large and complex 21st century industrial object, costs something over $300 million dollars, and LFTR manufacture would be, if anything, simpler and lest costly that A380 manufacture. The LFTR does not require the same sort of heavy forged steel parts required by the LWR. Through factory manufacture, LFTR quality control management would be greatly simplified with improved outcomes. Thus while it would be expensive to manufacture 120 A380’s a year, it would be by no means impossible. Indeed Airbus executives would be excited by the challenge. of manufacturing several hundred A380’s a year.
Given that LFTR manufacture would be no more complex than Airbus 380 manufacture, we could assume that products might well have similar costs, so let us assume a set of LFTR submodules, plus a set up kits cost $300 million going out the factory door. Assume that each 400 MWe LFTR will require $200 million of site related costs. That will give us a total cost of $1.25 billion per GWe generating capacity over night costs. With interest this might come to $2 million, but this cost has to be balanced against LFTR related savings. For every 1 billion W years of electricity produced the LFTR will save at least $250 million in coal prices. Thus the savings on fuel costs will more than pay both principle and interest on the capital cost of the LFTR and would return to the investor a handsome profit. The debt on the LFTR would be repaid in less than 10 years, after which the huge profit from LFTR operations should be shared by owners and rate payers.
Replacement of natural gas fired generating facilities would also produce a rapid repayment schedule, and immediate profit for the investors combined with the potential of lowering ratepayers cost. Thus far from giving us a world of expensive electricity, and electrical shortages created by an idiotic negawatts approach, the LFTR promised abundant low cost electricity, and the replacement of 80% or more of current energy delivered by fossil fuels, while lowering energy costs even after capital costs and interests are paid.
No wonder the oil companies and the coal barons are desperately hoping that Energy Secretary Chu will continue to follow the Energy Department line on the LFTR. No wonder Chu tells Congress that there is a terrible cracking problem with the LFTR, a problem that ORNL scientists solved in the 1970’s. The advent of the mass produced LFTR would put paid to the fossil industry in the United States. The LFTR is extremely scalable, and can be produced in massive numbers at a low enough cost and to almost completely replace fossil fuels by 2050, and there are a whole lot of powerful folks that don’t want you to know that.