While I was at the ANS Conference in Atlanta, I had the good fortune of attending a presentation by Dr. Jan Uhlir of the Nuclear Research Institute located in Rez in the Czech Republic. During his presentation, Dr. Uhlir described the research work going on at the NRI and talked in particular about their recent research into thorium-fueled fluoride reactors.
Here is a diagram of their overall approach:
Dr. Uhlir is the head of the Fluoride Chemistry Division at NRI, and has come to some of the same conclusions about thorium-burning fluoride reactors that I have, namely, that a two-fluid fluoride reactor (where the thorium-bearing and uranium-bearing fluids are kept separate) has particular advantages in performance and ease of reprocessing over a single-fluid fluoride reactor (where thorium and uranium-bearing salts are mixed).
This is the diagram for the one-fluid reactor:
This is the diagram for the fuel circuit of the two-fluid reactor:
This is the diagram for the fertile circuit of the two-fluid reactor:
After the presentation I was able to have lunch with Dr. Uhlir and he told me more about the NRI and their research there. NRI is actually a private research institution, whose primary shareholder is the Czech power company, which is turn is owned by the government. NRI’s work in fluoride reactors began with an examination of transuranic-burning (transuranics are the long-lived waste from current reactors) but progressed to examining thorium-burning reactors as a way to avoid making transuranics in the first place.
I was very impressed by Dr. Uhlir’s work and by his personal zeal for the project–I hope that the United States can catch up to where these Czech researchers have already reached! And I hope that the US and the Czech Republic can collaborate to bring thorium-fueled liquid-fluoride reactors to fruition!