Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Jan 24, 2013 3:38 pm 
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The European Union's Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP) recently conducted a public consultation on the 2013 update of its Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda (SRIA). Here are the results of that consultation:

http://www.snetp.eu/www/snetp/images/st ... _final.pdf

Out of 94 replies, 85 mention thorium!!
There are some truly passionate pleas for more research in Europe into thorium and MSRs.

See page 38 for a "Clarification of the SNETP position on Thorium and Molten Salt Reactors research"

Pour ceux qui veulent lire sur ce sujet en français :
http://energieduthorium.fr/2013/01/10/lettre-au-snetp/


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PostPosted: Jan 24, 2013 4:02 pm 
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Yes, Kirk's promotions, this lowly forum, and the wikipedia articles have had some effect.
I even found out that one of my nieces, a very wired professional costumer in Burbank, had heard of it... I was astonished.
I think a nuclear engineer would have to be dead not to know of it.


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PostPosted: Jan 24, 2013 11:09 pm 
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Wow, great find.

I read through it to find scores of people saying "try thorium!" and them saying "yeah, we hear you but thorium is dumb because it's hard to fabricate fuel and we are thinking of a fast spectrum MSR".

Quote:
The Molten Salt Reactor
The annex on Molten Salt Reactors, MSR, highlights the potential of recent conceptual developments on fast neutron spectrum molten salt reactors (MSFRs) using fluoride salts. MSFRs open promising possibilities to exploit the thorium cycle and to contribute to significantly diminishing the radiotoxic inventory from the spent fuels of present reactors, in particular by lowering the masses of transuranium elements, similarly to transmutation proposals based on fast reactors and ADS using fuel based on uranium, plutonium or inert matrices.

Nevertheless, specific technological challenges must still be addressed and a safety approach must be established before these MSFR reactors can become a reality. As a consequence, the annex discusses the R&D needed on: structural materials, fuel salt chemistry and properties, fuel salt clean-up, and system design, operation and safety. The document includes a planning, based on the Generation IV MSFR Master Plan, aiming at establishing the viability of the Molten Salt Fast Reactor by 2018 and at optimizing its design features as well as its operating parameters by 2030. The general conclusion is that the Molten Salt Fast-neutron Reactor (MSFR), if proved feasible, could be a promising long-term alternative to solid-fuelled fast neutron reactors, well suited specifically for a closed thorium fuel cycle.


Amazing that they still haven't "got the memo" that the whole point of thorium is to be able to use a thermal spectrum MSR and avoid the fuel fabrication.

You can lead the horse to water but you sure can't make them drink.

Translated to bureaucratese:

You can point out a superior option but you can't get a bureaucracy to admit that they were investing resources less than optimally.


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PostPosted: Jan 25, 2013 7:09 am 
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Further translation...
You can lead a whore to culture but you cannot make it think.

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PostPosted: Jan 25, 2013 4:33 pm 
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Undoubtly the SNETP public consultation results are great success of the thorium power proponents. However the consultation is not an end in itself but an item on the SNETP agenda. SNETP plans for the coming months include

Quote:
SNETP’s 7 key proposals
(...)
4. Include the Nuclear Cogeneration Industrial Initiative (NC2I) as a SET-Plan EII with available EU grants amounting to 1 b€ [25%] (...)

On the NC2I I wrote in the "Poland pursues IV Gen reactors R&D" thread.

We should be not only watching what's in the pipeline of the NC2I initiative but maybe it is the right time the EfT community take proactive contact with the the Polish NCBJ National Centre for Nuclear Research. This autumn NCBJ most probably will be coordinating international NC2I team reseaching co-generation of electric energy and process heat.

In my opinion the NC2I is very promissing area in which the thorium molten salt reactors have chance to be implemented.

Pliftr (Polish LFTR)


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PostPosted: Jan 26, 2013 2:07 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Amazing that they still haven't "got the memo" that the whole point of thorium is to be able to use a thermal spectrum MSR and avoid the fuel fabrication.

You can lead the horse to water but you sure can't make them drink.

Translated to bureaucratese:

You can point out a superior option but you can't get a bureaucracy to admit that they were investing resources less than optimally.

Perhaps a more likely explanation is that the French do NOT wish to burden themselves with the various issues associated with graphite moderator in a thermal spectrum MSR.

Their cautious approach to the MSFR makes good sense, as no one knows right now if it can be operated in a stable way, without damaging neutron flux & power oscillations around the core volume....


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PostPosted: Jan 26, 2013 3:41 am 
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To be fair to the French program, they did look at different spectra and found a few advantages to a faster spectrum that they liked:

1. Better plutonium utilisation
2. Slower reprocessing possible
3. Better (more negative) reactivity feedbacks from lack of graphite in the core
4. Longer core life with no graphite in it


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PostPosted: Jan 26, 2013 6:18 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Quote:
The Molten Salt Reactor
Nevertheless, specific technological challenges must still be addressed and a safety approach must be established before these MSFR reactors can become a reality. As a consequence, the annex discusses the R&D needed on: structural materials, fuel salt chemistry and properties, fuel salt clean-up, and system design, operation and safety.


Amazing that they still haven't "got the memo" that the whole point of thorium is to be able to use a thermal spectrum MSR and avoid the fuel fabrication.

You can lead the horse to water but you sure can't make them drink.

Translated to bureaucratese:

You can point out a superior option but you can't get a bureaucracy to admit that they were investing resources less than optimally.


As it is a European initiative, they will most likely have asked for research results and conclusions of various European researchers. In this case it is most likely that the French have recommended research on fast spectrum reactors.

As to your remark....they are actually quite right. The MSR reactor doesn't have a safety approach that takes into account the specifics of the liquid fuel. And as long as there is no decent safety demonstration, no MSRs will be build.

So translated into engineering terms: "stop complaining and do some science"

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PostPosted: Jan 26, 2013 7:42 am 
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What hazards are not covered by the current systems?

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PostPosted: Jan 26, 2013 8:55 am 
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Cyril R wrote:
To be fair to the French program, they did look at different spectra and found a few advantages to a faster spectrum that they liked:

1. Better plutonium utilisation
2. Slower reprocessing possible
3. Better (more negative) reactivity feedbacks from lack of graphite in the core
4. Longer core life with no graphite in it

The advantages of fast spectrum sound too much like my own thinking on the subject. It may be that they as well as I are both correct.That being the case, I. as a good Indian, thought of ways to increase the use of thorium while retaining the fast fission bonus of uranium. The advantages of thorium are:-
a. Higher conversion to fissile as a result of higher absorption cross section for neutrons.
b. Superiority of U-233 as a fissile fuel component. You require less of U-233 in a fuel as compared to U-235 or Pu-239.
My thinking brought out a 'hybrid' reactor arrangements. The main parts are:-
1. Have a uranium fueled fast MSR reactor core.
2. Have a reflector/blanket jacket of solid metallic thorium balls and water. Electro-refine it periodically to recover U-233 as soon as it reaches an optimum value of 1.3-1.4%. Do not wait for it to burn in situ.
3. When sufficient U-233 has been created, use it with depleted uranium in the core.
How do the experts like it?


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PostPosted: Jan 26, 2013 2:25 pm 
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jagdish wrote:
Cyril R wrote:
To be fair to the French program, they did look at different spectra and found a few advantages to a faster spectrum that they liked:

1. Better plutonium utilisation
2. Slower reprocessing possible
3. Better (more negative) reactivity feedbacks from lack of graphite in the core
4. Longer core life with no graphite in it

The advantages of fast spectrum sound too much like my own thinking on the subject. It may be that they as well as I are both correct.That being the case, I. as a good Indian, thought of ways to increase the use of thorium while retaining the fast fission bonus of uranium. The advantages of thorium are:-
a. Higher conversion to fissile as a result of higher absorption cross section for neutrons.
b. Superiority of U-233 as a fissile fuel component. You require less of U-233 in a fuel as compared to U-235 or Pu-239.
My thinking brought out a 'hybrid' reactor arrangements. The main parts are:-
1. Have a uranium fueled fast MSR reactor core.
2. Have a reflector/blanket jacket of solid metallic thorium balls and water. Electro-refine it periodically to recover U-233 as soon as it reaches an optimum value of 1.3-1.4%. Do not wait for it to burn in situ.
3. When sufficient U-233 has been created, use it with depleted uranium in the core.
How do the experts like it?

Water near 650C core is not a good idea. Water anywhere inside the reactor in any significant quantity provides the means to expand rapidly and greatly under accident conditions. One of the great safety features of most LFTR designs is that there is no steam expansion, and nothing that likes to burn so during an accident there is little to fear except the financial loss of a reactor.


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PostPosted: Jan 26, 2013 5:51 pm 
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I think that beryllium or beryllium oxide does just as well as water (when the n,2n effect is considered) in a fuel channel reactor type.


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PostPosted: Jan 27, 2013 3:59 am 
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I had thought of water more as a coolant than a moderator. Perhaps nitrogen might be safer. Or a clean NaF-ZrF4.


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PostPosted: Jan 27, 2013 5:41 am 
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STG, I asked you a question. Please answer.
KitemanSA wrote:
What hazards are not covered by the current systems?

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PostPosted: Jan 28, 2013 3:29 pm 
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KitemanSA wrote:
STG, I asked you a question. Please answer.
KitemanSA wrote:
What hazards are not covered by the current systems?


I unfortunately can only answer when I have some time available to think and write. Now thus...It isn't necessarily the systems that are lacking, it is the demonstration that they are all effective. For liquid fuel there are several aspects:

1. The fact that the fuel is liquid means greater mobility of the fission products, thus the transfer of these products should be evaluated, as to be within legal limits.
2. The pump trip accident (ULOF) is comparable to a large reactivity injection, the response of the entire system should be evaluated and check whether the response is within safety limits.
3. Define acceptable safety limits.
4. ....

You can say that there are no hazards for liquid fuel, and that's an argumentation that works for lobbying or for convincing the masses. However a safety authority will ask for an in-depth scientific demonstration.

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