Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Dec 30, 2013 12:51 am 
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There are multiple reasons why the evolutionary framework is likely to favor smaller reactors during this transition period. Smaller reactors have the benefit of shorter construction times, which in analogy to fruit flies, allows evolution to happen faster. Smaller reactors also have a scale disadvantage, which requires them (to survive) to do some things much better than large reactors if they are to be built at all.

Smaller reactors of new technology can work as working, technology proving models. They could be scaled to appropriate size, if and when required. There could be an optimum size. Larger CANDU PHWR has not been able to find its place.

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Designers of small reactors also have very strong incentives to find approaches to simplify their designs, because in the end design simplification is the best strategy for small reactors to compete with large reactors. So there has been a major thread under the NACC topic about eliminating intermediate loops in FHRs. FHRs should hate having dirty intermediate salts around, that could contaminate the primary salt with neutron-absorbing salt if an IHX leaks, and thus should love the elimination of intermediate loops. But for small FHRs, elimination of the intermediate loop is probably an issue for survival, while really big FHRs could probably live with an intermediate loop. So small reactors are more likely to drive important technology advances than large reactors (look at the list of major regulatory issues that LWR-SMRs are likely to affect, ranging from control-room staffing to licensing fees).


Also, on the other hand, possible contact between sodium coolant o fast reactors and water/steam can be avoided by using molten salt for intermediate link in place of secondary sodium. A salt could be safe either with sodium or water.

Re the title of the thread. Does it refer to the plan of 50 new reactors or to their running by the EdF?


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PostPosted: Dec 30, 2013 2:48 am 
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jagdish wrote:
Smaller reactors of new technology can work as working, technology proving models. They could be scaled to appropriate size, if and when required. There could be an optimum size. Larger CANDU PHWR has not been able to find its place.


Water cooled reactors have fundamental limits on temperature, due to high pressure. Salts, metals or helium will end up being the longer-term technologies.

jagdish wrote:
Re the title of the thread. Does it refer to the plan of 50 new reactors or to their running by the EdF?


The UK appears to be bringing in multiple organizations, only one of which will be EdF, and it is constructing its incentives to be performance-based (e.g., power purchase agreements vs. other types of subsidies). But to be successful, the UK also needs to rebuild its capacity to perform R&D in nuclear energy, because this the only way that it can develop the future domestic workforce it will need to assure that these plants can be constructed and operated competently, and that it can deploy future advanced nuclear technologies effectively.


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PostPosted: Dec 30, 2013 7:49 am 
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Nuclear energy R & D in the UK has been neglected in the past decades. The UK was once leading in this field, think of Calder Hall and reactor concepts, although not successful, such as the AGR. I think the discovery of North Sea oil and gas played a role in this, as well as the ideologically driven privatizations by the Tories (Conservatives), which led to a "dash for gas" in the 1980s/1990s, which was a quick and easy fix for short-term oriented managers and investors.

I believe the situation is somewhat similar in the USA. It was once also leading in the field, but France and Russia now appear to be ahead in nuclear energy R & D because they are more willing to invest in nuclear energy R & D. The DOE is a pale shade of its former self. This organization, which basically started life as the Atomic Energy Commission nowadays appears to be totally focused on non-nuclear energy technologies, such as "cool cleantech" renewables and fossil fuel technologies, such as CCS.

The DOE national labs also dabble in all kinds of unfocused and unrelated research, such as biomedical research and life sciences. One wonders why Department of ENERGY labs are involved in this, as this is the domain of the NIH.

Perhaps because the fossil fuel industry and life science firms have more lobbyists on K Street ?


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PostPosted: Dec 30, 2013 6:00 pm 
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Under the influence of David MacKay, the UK this year has adopted and published a nuclear industrial strategy. Not only does the UK wish to use nuclear reactors to generate environmentally-friendly electricity, it want to develop an intrinsic nuclear industry within its borders.

https://www.gov.uk/government/collectio ... l-strategy

The contrast with US stultified energy policy is mind-numbing.


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PostPosted: Dec 30, 2013 7:20 pm 
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The US has an energy policy?


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PostPosted: Dec 30, 2013 8:23 pm 
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Ida-Russkie wrote:
The US has an energy policy?
Yup. To quote it in full:
"Whenever anyone asks what the US Energy Policy is, stick your fingers in your ears and yell 'la-la-la-la-la' until they go away".

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PostPosted: Dec 30, 2013 9:02 pm 
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I thought it was to spend lots of money on wind and solar but to buy lots of natural gas generated electricity while gradually shutting down nuclear and coal.


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PostPosted: Dec 31, 2013 1:20 am 
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Lars, KitemanSA, Ida-Russkie, and Robert have it right (as do others ) But I will go further: we have misspent enough money to lead the world in the new nuclear age -- we could be there already. But instead, what we have to show for it is a lot of stuff that will need to eventually be torn-down, and cleaned up, and a new record high electricity rate that could escalate upward even more unless gas remains inexpensive. Oh, and we have made no dent in CO2 emissions except for gas substituting for coal and better cars. We have hurt low income people and businesses however, while funding some misadventures using tax payers' money to enrich lawyers, deal makers, cronies, and unrealistic dreamers. I think that is our energy policy. Real science, thermodynamics, and economics have been ignored and a cargo cult mentality has taken the place of logic.

It irritates me actually.


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PostPosted: Dec 31, 2013 3:52 am 
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So far wind federal credits are ending 1 Jan 2014. The new rules mean any project started (as in the order for the windmills placed) as opposed to completed (last years rule) so there is a gold rush ongoing right now to get taxpayers on the hook for the first 10 years of operation once the wind farms are built (2.3 cents/kWhr).


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PostPosted: Dec 31, 2013 7:56 pm 
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From happier days......


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PostPosted: Jan 07, 2014 7:57 am 
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The Britain buying Candu's and running them on Th-Pu fuel may be wise and yet too much to hope for.


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