LFTR leader JIANG Mianheng addresses iThEO

jiangmianheng

Jiang Mianheng gave the lead-off presentation at the International Thorium Energy Organization 2012 meeting in Shanghai, sponsored by the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear and Applied Physics and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Jiang Mianheng is the son of former president Jiang Zemin and a leader of CAS. After publication of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors in the July/August 2010 American Scientist he led a delegation to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to learn more about the ORNL molten salt reactors experience. In January 2011 the CAS announced a $350 million 5 year thorium MSR project engaging 400 people.

Videographer Gordon McDowell provided this initial draft of Jiang’s presentation. Jiang explains China’s GDP growth, urbanization, and increasing energy demand and concern about environmental impacts of burning fossil fuels. He presents the potential for using LFTR to solve these problems. You might spot some graphics from the American Scientist article and the Aim High presentation.

After his presentation I presented him a copy of THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal, which he insisted that I autograph.

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22 Replies to "LFTR leader JIANG Mianheng addresses iThEO"

  • ROBERTM
    November 4, 2012 (12:25 pm)
    Reply

    JIANG Mianheng gave an interesting presentation on all of the advantages that china hopes to gain by using LFTR.

    The chinese seem very interested and willing to go fully forward with LFTR. It seems china believes that nuclear energy is key to long term prosperity and independence. Clean, and cheap is the reason the Chinese government is fully funding chinese LFTR research.

    I am glad that LFTR technology is gaining foothold in china.

  • Alex P.
    November 4, 2012 (3:11 pm)
    Reply

    Am I wrong or the Chinese are actually focused on solid fuel, molten salt cooled thorium reactors ?
    From an other talk it seems so http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/24525946

    If it were so it would be very disappointing because with a solid fuel approacch you can' t gain none of the adv typycal of MSR tech (like those well explained by Mr. JIANG Mianheng, for example in terms of fuel need and waste produced), actually the salt cooled MSR approach seems me a total waste of time and resources

  • Robert Hargraves
    November 4, 2012 (3:20 pm)
    Reply

    China is taking small steps, starting with molten salt loops of salt used for thermal solar heat storage – probably KNO3 and NaKO3. Another step will be the pebble bed reactor with molten salt for heat transfer, rather than He. Yet another step, to be started in parallel but learning from experience, is the MSR. The operational date changed from 2017 to 2020.

  • Jagdish
    November 4, 2012 (5:26 pm)
    Reply

    Small steps being taken by China seem to be the right approach to molten salt benefits. Molten salt loops will, for example, lead them to solutions dealing with salt corrosion. Cooling of pebble salt with reactor with salt could lead to cooling of a fast reactor with salt eliminating the sodium fire risk and LWR 'waste' burning reactors, a big achievement. LFTR can be the next refinement.

  • Roy Harvie
    November 4, 2012 (6:37 pm)
    Reply

    I think China is taking the "all of the above" approach and will decide later which nuclear path to take. It is still the only country putting serious money into the LFTR design and I am confident that its superiority will become apparent. China of course will be the big winner, as their economy will be stronger, and their factories powered by cheap thorium will continue to under-price competition. When this happens the rest of the world will wake up and begin to adopt LFTR technology themselves.

    Despite the fact that this means the West will be left further behind, I am all in favor of helping the Chinese achieve their goal as we will benefit eventually.

  • Alberto R.
    November 4, 2012 (6:43 pm)
    Reply

    " Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors in the July/August 2010 American Scientist" was a powerful article. It's the one that opened my eyes on this technology and made me a believer, too.
    Should be divulged more.

  • TerjeP
    November 4, 2012 (7:51 pm)
    Reply

    The talk by Xu Hongjie also filmed by Gordon McDowell was more interesting in my view. Although clearly his English and presentation isn't great. What was interesting was the breakdown of resources being applied. So many hundred scientists to this, so many to that. This many years to achieve goal x. They are looking at the material science, the designs etc and putting serious resources behind the effort.
    http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gordonmcdowel

    In one sense I'm encouraged to see this work been done. In another sense I'm concerned it may discourage private sector efforts in the same arena.

  • Alex P.
    November 5, 2012 (10:23 am)
    Reply

    Well, on one hand I find disappointing that the Chinese didn' t start from the MSRE of the early '50-'60, at least to build and develop a "denatured" MSR – it was a fully developed 10 MW (thermal) molten salt reactor which well showed the potential of the technology. On the other, even a 2 MW solid fuel but molten salt cooled reactor prototype can be a good start, although I would prefered as a first prototype something like a low power non breeding DMSR (denatured MSR) using still a mixture of thorium and low enriched uranium, as the natural follow up of MSRE experience

  • Robert Hargraves
    November 5, 2012 (2:08 pm)
    Reply

    Alex, Amazingly the Chinese DID experiment with an MSR back in the 1970s. They had issues with the aluminum vessel so then changed to explore LWRs.

  • RaymondC
    November 7, 2012 (1:37 am)
    Reply

    I think President Obama's second term should include funds to commercialize LFTR technology, since not only can the US take advantage of its 440,000 tons of thorium in reserve, but also build very safe nuclear reactors that have minimal nuclear waste problems and could be used to phase out most older coal-fired power plants. And unlike solar and wind power, LFTR's won't hog huge swaths of land or become a major hazard to migratory birds.

  • Alex P.
    November 8, 2012 (10:04 am)
    Reply

    I also believe that an other huge advantage of a potential LFTR Th (iso)breeder development – besides the obvious possibility to produce electricity to power heat pumps, battery electric vehicles and plugins or trains/trams/metros, etc…in collective transportation (or the production of low temp heat for water desalination, process heat or district heating) – is the production of liquid fuels for personal transportation (for today IC engines and fuel cells in the next future), for example methanol (or DME derived from it, to power diesel engines and gas turbines or used as LPG substitute) or directly combining CO2 and H2 or via the biomass gasification route coverting CO and H2 to MeOH (and if necessary DME) – even using the lesser energy demanding biomass gasification route, with a modest input of electricity and low temp heat (to power higher temp electrolisys) we can convert 1 bilion tonn/year of biomass ~ 15 milions of bpd of oil

  • Alex P.
    November 8, 2012 (10:16 am)
    Reply

    Mr. Hargraves,

    by the way, have you compared the energy input to produce MeOH and ammonia from plain air and water ?

    Which of the two, if any, could be the more likely candidate for a future use in fuel cells ?

  • Robert Hargraves
    November 8, 2012 (11:37 am)
    Reply

    I, too, believe that LFTR high temperature heat can be instrumental in producing hydrogen (from water) and synthesizing vehicle fuels. George Olah wrote The Methanol Economy, recommending this because it can use most of the gasoline infrastructure. He has the Nobel prize for carbon chemistry, and also recommends THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal; see flyleaf or website.

    I did not compare methanol and ammonia pricing. My numbers are only proof-of-concept, not accurate enough to make that kind of recommendation. There's lots more work required by chemical engineers.

  • ROBERTM
    November 8, 2012 (8:10 pm)
    Reply

    Methanol has a high toxicity in humans. If ingested, for example, as little as 10 mL of pure methanol can cause permanent blindness by destruction of the optic nerve, and 30 mL is potentially fatal,[16] although the median lethal dose is typically 100 mL (4 fl oz) (i.e. 1–2 mL/kg of pure methanol[17]). Toxic effects take hours to start, and effective antidotes can often prevent permanent damage.[16] Because of its similarities in both appearance and odor to ethanol (the alcohol in beverages), it is difficult to differentiate between the two (such is also the case with denatured alcohol).

    Holy shit what a deadly substance!!!!!

  • Robert Hargraves
    November 8, 2012 (9:29 pm)
    Reply

    ROBERTM, You shouldn't drink gasoline, either… "The acute toxicity of gasoline; its components benzene, toluene, and xylene; and the additives ethanol, methanol, and methyl tertiary butyl ether are reviewed. All of these chemicals are only moderately to mildly toxic at acute doses. Because of their volatility, these compounds are not extensively absorbed dermally unless the exposed skin is occluded. Absorption through the lungs and the gastrointestinal tract is quite efficient. After ingestion, the principal danger for a number of these chemicals, particularly gasoline, is aspiration pneumonia, which occurs mainly in children. "

  • ROBERTM
    November 8, 2012 (10:59 pm)
    Reply

    Compared to gasoline, and methanol, thorium sounds like the safest substance on earth!

  • Alex P.
    November 12, 2012 (11:17 am)
    Reply

    RobertTM,
    methanol is actually safer than gasoline/diesel fuel, because it's less volatile, much more difficult to ignite, and its fire is much less powerfull; and in case of leaks it biodegrades very quickly, unlike gasoline, etc…of course, it's more toxic but this almost irrelevant because also gasoline and other oil by-products are toxic by ingestion/inalation, while methanol though toxic is not per se canceroginic (like gasolien/diesel), and can be easily cured taking small amount of ethanol(ethyl alcohool) if readily diagnosed

    If you also consider that is much cleaner (even cleaner than natural gas that is not obviously liquid at room temperature, even avoiding NOx and some soot emissions of nat gas) and can be burned much more efficiently than gasoline (even better than diesel engine without the weight/bulk and emissions inherent of that system), I think that methanol together with DME for diesel, gas turbines and LPG replacement it' s an interesting option to consider

  • Alex P.
    November 12, 2012 (11:52 am)
    Reply

    Interesting enough, methanol can be also a good energy storage alternative to classic electric batteries. For example, by biomass gasification we yield a ratio ~ 1 of CO/H2 while needing two moles of H2 to produce one mole of MeOH : CO + 2 H2 = CH3OH. If we consider that even using electrolysis at moderate temps (~ 150 °C) we need only less than 40 kWh per kg of hydrogen http://ieahia.org/pdfs/Task25/High_Temperature_El
    and supposing, say, that one liter of MeOH = 8-10 km (rather than 15 km per liter of gasoline for an equivalent gasoline car), we need no more than 0,2-0,25 kWh per km, of course without considering the energy inputs of biomass and low temp heat – at that point, it' almost the same electricity consumption of an electric vehicle or plugin needing something in the range of 0,2 kWh per km, but without the big drawback of not having an usefull and pratical liquid fuel.

  • David Walters
    November 14, 2012 (1:48 pm)
    Reply

    We heard him speak at UC Berkeley earlier in the year. It was his first public presentation to my knowledge and, open to the public.

    The Chinese are R&Ding TWO thorium reactors: A solid fuel one, FIRST, with FLibE cooling and then, afterwards, a LFTR, (but once through).

    The Molten Salt Cooled Thorium Reactor is being built first is expected to be 2.5 MWt. Most of the R&D money is going to this. Some smaller amount is going to their version of the LFTR.

  • Karlos
    November 15, 2012 (8:44 pm)
    Reply

    You can't even say we're in a race for thorium with the Chinese! Our priorities lie else where! Cause addicts to gasoline. And denying our Pushers Agenda is unthinkable.

    I wish could have a Thorium Reactor tomorrow. But it's never that easy!

  • Peter
    November 20, 2012 (7:09 pm)
    Reply

    Does the protactinium tank pose any health or other danger? How is this tank secured?

  • cthorm
    November 23, 2012 (11:17 am)
    Reply

    In a 2-fluid design the protactinium is pumped into a separate tank and stored for a few weeks, where it decays into 233U. Pa is water soluble, and 233Pa decays via beta emission at about 0.5 MeV with a 27 day halflife. The 232Pa isotope, which will also be present, is also a beta emitter but at a 1.337 MeV and a halflife of just 1 day. A human couldn't be anywhere near this stuff while it decays, so remote manipulation would be necessary.


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