Thorium Artwork from Suzanne Hobbs

Suzanne Hobbs of PopAtomic Studios put together this fun and happy icon for our thorium efforts–thanks Suzy!

Thorium icon by Suzanne Hobbs



11 Replies to "Thorium Artwork from Suzanne Hobbs"

  • Bryan
    March 18, 2010 (8:59 pm)

    Just had a silly thought…

    Fused silica has a pretty high softening point (around 1600C if you can get really pure stuff) and a relatively low nuclear cross section (being made of silicon and oxygen only).

    Wouldn't it be wild to use it for the core manifold, reactor containment, and coolant jacket? Not only would any Cherenkov radiation be beautifully visible, but you'd be able to visually inspect the reactor during operation.

    Obviously, the reactor's thorium blanket would have to be thick enough to capture all of the neutrons for visual inspection to be safe, and then you'd still have to be several feet away to get away from the heat ^_^.

  • Suzy Hobbs
    March 18, 2010 (11:37 pm)

    Now that's what I'm talking about! Making the actual reactor beautiful would really change public perception of nuclear!!!

    I would love to create colorful public artworks/ murals on the outside of nuclear plants to give a sense of connectedness to the surrounding community. When I look at a power plant I see a giant canvas begging to be painted!

  • Steve Packard
    March 19, 2010 (4:34 am)

    Oh that's hot! I'd definitely be all for making a reactor a canvas and a power-plant beautiful.

    Of course, there are all kinds of different styles and ways if doing it. I really like the industrial art deco designs from the 1930's that expressed the lofty ideal of power as a means of serving man. They had all kinds of symbolism like hands clutching lightning bolts and such…

    Today some might see that as being ominous or too grandiose, but I always liked it.

    I think it would be terrific if instead of just making the reactor a blank canvas, there were a way to make it both functional and aesthetically pleasing by combining function and presentation – like make the condenser discharge come out as a waterfall or have the clouds of vapor from cooling towers come out like a fountain.

    Actually, one thing I've always wanted to see built onto a power plant is a big steam organ, like this one:

  • Bryan
    March 19, 2010 (5:17 am)

    Concerning the subject of the article: can I have a t-shirt?

  • mentalstampede
    March 19, 2010 (7:59 pm)

    On the T-shirt note, Have you ever considered starting a cafe-press store with LFTR shirts and stuff Kirk?

  • Suzy Hobbs
    March 19, 2010 (10:02 pm)

    Wow! The steam organ is pretty amazing! And a waterfall would really draw people in, and get them excited to understand where their electricity comes from!

    As far as paint goes, I would love to do some Marc Rothko inspired cooling towers! I think color field painting would translate perfectly to the scale of a plant.

    ps- I am putting together an online store this weekend…shirts are printed and ready to go, I am just a technological slow poke. Maybe we can get the Thorium design on the next batch we print!

  • Kirk Sorensen
    March 19, 2010 (10:19 pm)

    Suzy, I would be very interested in talking with you about how "artistic" touches could be applied to LFTR designs, fairly early in the design process. I think these plants are going to look so very different than existing reactors that a little style and art might fit in very well. They are like laptops compared to mainframes.

  • Suzy Hobbs
    March 20, 2010 (1:19 pm)

    Kirk, I would love to contribute an artistic touch! I think the LFTR is a great opportunity to build a stronger relationship between the energy world and the public at large and incorporating public art is a sure fire way to get people's attention.

    I'll play with the artist's rendition of the reactor on your fan page and shoot you an email.

  • Jim Lauder
    March 20, 2010 (3:45 pm)

    I am curious to know how small a reactor could be. Has anyone experimented with ultra-small designs? What are the current limitations to building a portable unit?



  • Mike Swift
    March 22, 2010 (6:35 am)

    Jim, LFTRs could be built down to at least the 5 to 10 mWe size. Oak Ridge built theirs at 7 mWt. The limiting size would be when the overhead and initial cost makes diesel cheaper. For overhead you need to know that our government bills each reactor about $4 million a year for license maintenance. Add to this many years and tens of millions to get a site approved, and you can see that bureaucracy makes small reactors non viable in the U.S even if they were free.

  • Steve Packard
    March 22, 2010 (11:08 pm)

    Jim – do you mean any reactor or the LFTR reactor in particular? if you use highly enriched uranium and high effeciency moderators then they can be built very very small.

    The smallest power reactor I'm aware of proving the potential to operate for any period of time is SNAP-10A. The reactor and thermal radiators were about eight feet tall, but the reactor alone was only about the size of a large bucket.

    However, I have heard some suggestions that using a combination of americium and plutonium with a neutron reflector, you could possibly have critical mass in something the size of a few aspirin tablets.

Leave a Reply