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PostPosted: Apr 13, 2013 5:06 am 
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I found this on the blog nextbigfuture.com:

http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/04/terres ... egral.html

This is very exciting news about Dr. David LeBlanc's Terrestrial Energy Inc. (http://www.terrestrialenergyinc.com)


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PostPosted: Apr 13, 2013 10:04 am 
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Indeed, very exciting. I'm curious about the design details, especially the safety/decay heat removal systems and balance of plant. Looks like a very high power density vessel.


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PostPosted: Apr 13, 2013 11:33 am 
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I will post more details later today when I have some free time. For now please keep in mind the figure is only meant to show the most obvious of needed changes between what ORNL developed for SmAHTR if one wishes the advantages of liquid fuel in a true MSR. Much of course is also not written in stone (and much will remain confidential for at least the near term).

David LeBlanc


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PostPosted: Apr 13, 2013 6:31 pm 
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It will not be easy to get out under the control of the Big Oil; they will have control over how MSR is deployed, and not deployed. I never imagined that this might be the year that MSR becomes controlled by Shale Oil companies.

T. Wang


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PostPosted: Apr 13, 2013 8:31 pm 
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EnergyUser,

I think one article said we had "oil sands partners", this isn't correct. Among our founders of Terrestrial Energy we do have bright oil sands engineers who have a passion for trying to integrate MSR heat to replace the massive amounts of natural gas now used to extract oil sands. I know for many folks trying to clean up the practice of oil sands production is a bit like saying "clean coal" but I'm of the opinion that no matter what we do in the nuclear field and how quickly, oil will still be part of our economy for some time to come so I am quite willing to entertain ways to improve the process environmentally and to help switch production to more stable areas of the world and thus to have less reliance on unstable ones. We will of course explore potential funding from that area but certainly only one of many industries that would be very wise to support this field early on. If you do wish to discuss the pros and cons of connecting MSR development with the oil industry (oil refining is also an enormous potential industrial market for MSR heat in general) or as well the coal industry (coal to liquid fuels without extra CO2 release it now involves) I agree it is a complex debate but I'd direct you to another thread where this discussion has been going on.

http://energyfromthorium.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3961

David LeBlanc


Last edited by David on Apr 13, 2013 9:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Apr 13, 2013 9:32 pm 
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Time to provide a few details (not too many I'm afraid) regarding the IMSR design I plan to develop with my new partners (and much outside help) at Terrestrial Energy Inc. (by the way, name comes from a great book on nuclear which made the point that all energy we can use is either Solar (as even fossil fuel is stored solar) or Terrestrial (of the earth as it uranium, thorium and even geothermal is a form of nuclear). I guess where fusion stands is a question.

Anyhow, as I've been saying in talks for over a year now, a very wise starting point to develop simpler burner or converter MSRs or DMSRs is to take advantage of some of the great innovation ORNL developed on their SmAHTR program (which is a FHR or solid fuel reactor cooled by fluoride salts). Basically just returning the nuclear fuel to the liquid salt. A quick review, in the SmAHTR design they have both primary and decay heat handling heat exchanger (DRACS) right inside the primary vessel and then solid fuel in a graphite matrix (TRISO) such that with the vessel head well away from neutron flux they can design it for relatively easy opening to swap out heat exchangers and the solid TRISO fuel. They planned to pull out and replace the entire core every 4 years or less.

The figure of the IMSR I show in the article is certainly not meant to represent exactly what we intend to develop and of course there are many things undecided. In the figure though I just wanted to show the most obvious changes one would make in converting the SmAHTR approach to a true liquid fueled MSR. For example, one always wishes to minimize salt volume out of core which I've shown by having the upper heat exchangers fill far more of the central region.

With salt cooled solid fuels you are quite limited on power density for both heat transfer reasons and also for the length of time before needing shut downs to change fuels. With the fuel in the salt and the core now just a matrix of graphite one can go to much higher power densities, in this case one limiting factor is the lifetime of the graphite. The high power output I show is starting to push the limit on how high one would want to go and still get a reasonable lifetime of the graphite (i.e. at least 4 years). I probably should have been a little more conservative even if it would be to under promise and over deliver. With the higher power means of course more heat exchange volume which is handled by filling up far more of the upper plenum space. All six heat exchangers shown are primary heat exchanger, no DRACS (more on that in a second). The larger lines leading in and out are for the secondary coolant and the small line would be a pump shaft so each heat exchanger has its own pump (as in SmAHTR).

That brings one to a major other detail, which is decay heat removal. All I will really say is there are many potential options here and there has been much great discussion on these many options on this forum. The default of course would be to add a freeze plug at the bottom and drain tank. I will be honest that I am no where near deciding which option we prefer but that will be a great deal of our early work on the pre-conceptual design. Another aspect not depicted is off gas systems and another area that has choices to examine. These choices also of course have huge bearing on what the immediate surroundings of the reactor vessel will look like. The list of potential choices is quite broad (DRACS, RVACs, Radiant heat options without an acronym yet, a luxury of choice as I often put it) so I'd encourage folks to contribute to a discussion.

Getting back to the core itself, the figure actually shows an identical core layout to the main choice of SmAHTR (their pre-conceptual design examined many choices). This is an area I am not prepared to discuss much but it will not look like that. Maybe close, maybe far. I'll just say there is much more involved than just a simple conversion of the SmAHTR approach to salt fueled and look forward to disclosing more details at the appropriate times.

By the way, the main original story is through the Weinberg Foundation out of the UK.

http://www.the-weinberg-foundation.org/2013/04/12/a-simple-and-smahtr-way-to-build-a-molten-salt-reactor-from-canada/

David LeBlanc


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PostPosted: Apr 14, 2013 5:12 am 
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David, looks like you've got a realistic path forward, small (developable) and simple converter design in a high value market (licensing could be an issue as no nuclear plants are used in oil shale steam production).

With such a tiny vessel a lot more options are on the table, especially the cool-through-vessel concepts are real options, RVACS or even a NuScale arrangement with a simple pool of water to boiloff, all you need.

But, loose lips sink ships, so first I'd like to hear from David what we can and cannot discuss here.


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PostPosted: Apr 14, 2013 9:25 pm 
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Thanks Cyril, I look forward to help from your very inventive (and more importantly, pragmatic) mind. Regarding Oil Sands, I wouldn't really put too much emphasis on this area. We certainly are not thinking of a first demonstration there, just they are an important potential market and possible backer. Likely lower hanging fruit for the first commercial units anyhow.

David LeBlanc


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PostPosted: Apr 14, 2013 11:10 pm 
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The lowest hanging fruit for the MSR in N America and West Europe is disposal of SNF. Its being a successor to the LWR has to be mentioned low key as an additional benefit. Keeping the costs low is more important, next to safety. Breeding of fissile matter has to be confined to the back of mind.
Once you get enough funds to build and run a couple, you could go commercial with it.


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PostPosted: Apr 15, 2013 3:31 am 
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jagdish wrote:
The lowest hanging fruit for the MSR in N America and West Europe is disposal of SNF. Its being a successor to the LWR has to be mentioned low key as an additional benefit. Keeping the costs low is more important, next to safety. Breeding of fissile matter has to be confined to the back of mind.
Once you get enough funds to build and run a couple, you could go commercial with it.


I agree, emphasizing the benefits regarding SNF is very important. I think it is a very important 'selling point', especially in western countries. Transatomic is on the right track here with their WAMSR. There have also been concepts in the past, such as AMSTER and MOSART which have focused on the transmutation capabilities of MSRs. Last week, it was in the news that Germany is going to spend 2 billion Euros just on search/assessment of finding new sites for a final nuclear waste repository, because the current site, Gorleben, is perceived not to be good enough or is politically inconvenient.


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PostPosted: Apr 15, 2013 6:03 am 
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camiel wrote:
jagdish wrote:
The lowest hanging fruit for the MSR in N America and West Europe is disposal of SNF. Its being a successor to the LWR has to be mentioned low key as an additional benefit. Keeping the costs low is more important, next to safety. Breeding of fissile matter has to be confined to the back of mind.
Once you get enough funds to build and run a couple, you could go commercial with it.


I agree, emphasizing the benefits regarding SNF is very important. I think it is a very important 'selling point', especially in western countries. Transatomic is on the right track here with their WAMSR. There have also been concepts in the past, such as AMSTER and MOSART which have focused on the transmutation capabilities of MSRs. Last week, it was in the news that Germany is going to spend 2 billion Euros just on search/assessment of finding new sites for a final nuclear waste repository, because the current site, Gorleben, is perceived not to be good enough or is politically inconvenient.


Pro's and cons people. SNF destruction is important for public appeal but the downside is you've got a more tricky to develop fuel cycle, especially the reprocessing is tough, plus you now depend on a large stream of reprocessed SNF TRUs. With reprocessing plants being strictly prohibited in most countries, and unavailable to others, this is a big showstopper in my mind.

David's plan to get started with LEU only converters in a small developable reactor system is the fastest off the ground. Once you have the basic reactor system - no small challenge just to develop this, pumps heat exchangers offgas systems and all - then you can go to the TRU started thorium cycle. We can already claim this as a future SNF destruction advantage as the design doesn't need online reprocessing, so once you get a stream of SNF TRU going the advanced design is relatively easy. More immediately, we can claim a low production of TRUs because of the long-burn in the converter, even with the first LEU fuelled design.


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PostPosted: Apr 15, 2013 10:53 am 
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Cyril R wrote:
camiel wrote:
jagdish wrote:
The lowest hanging fruit for the MSR in N America and West Europe is disposal of SNF. Its being a successor to the LWR has to be mentioned low key as an additional benefit. Keeping the costs low is more important, next to safety. Breeding of fissile matter has to be confined to the back of mind.
Once you get enough funds to build and run a couple, you could go commercial with it.


I agree, emphasizing the benefits regarding SNF is very important. I think it is a very important 'selling point', especially in western countries. Transatomic is on the right track here with their WAMSR. There have also been concepts in the past, such as AMSTER and MOSART which have focused on the transmutation capabilities of MSRs. Last week, it was in the news that Germany is going to spend 2 billion Euros just on search/assessment of finding new sites for a final nuclear waste repository, because the current site, Gorleben, is perceived not to be good enough or is politically inconvenient.


Pro's and cons people. SNF destruction is important for public appeal but the downside is you've got a more tricky to develop fuel cycle, especially the reprocessing is tough, plus you now depend on a large stream of reprocessed SNF TRUs. With reprocessing plants being strictly prohibited in most countries, and unavailable to others, this is a big showstopper in my mind.

David's plan to get started with LEU only converters in a small developable reactor system is the fastest off the ground. Once you have the basic reactor system - no small challenge just to develop this, pumps heat exchangers offgas systems and all - then you can go to the TRU started thorium cycle. We can already claim this as a future SNF destruction advantage as the design doesn't need online reprocessing, so once you get a stream of SNF TRU going the advanced design is relatively easy. More immediately, we can claim a low production of TRUs because of the long-burn in the converter, even with the first LEU fuelled design.

There are a few places where you can skip the reprocessing development aspect - UK, France, Japan, US, Russia either have stockpiles of LWR plutonium or surplus weapons plutonium to dispose of. I even recall protests about spent fuel shipments from Germany to France so I'm guessing Germany has some stockpiles as well.


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PostPosted: Apr 22, 2013 3:25 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:
David's plan to get started with LEU only converters in a small developable reactor system is the fastest off the ground. Once you have the basic reactor system - no small challenge just to develop this, pumps heat exchangers offgas systems and all - then you can go to the TRU started thorium cycle. We can already claim this as a future SNF destruction advantage as the design doesn't need online reprocessing, so once you get a stream of SNF TRU going the advanced design is relatively easy. More immediately, we can claim a low production of TRUs because of the long-burn in the converter, even with the first LEU fuelled design.

Agree. One of the key tactics here is to identify those aspects that can hinder or stop your intended development programme and minimise your reliance on those things. If we can minimise the number complex, expensive and politically contentious thing that we need to do (like procure 20% LEU for example), the better are the chances of success. Take SNF destruction as an example, I would love to see that, I spend a lot time looking at those opportunities, but from a business development point of view it has the potential to be a very hard road with many obstacles which limit your chances of being successful, especially when doing all of this with investor funds which are normally limited.

David says KISS, that is an approach that I wholeheartedly endorse.


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PostPosted: Apr 22, 2013 3:32 pm 
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Lars wrote:
There are a few places where you can skip the reprocessing development aspect - UK, France, Japan, US, Russia either have stockpiles of LWR plutonium or surplus weapons plutonium to dispose of. I even recall protests about spent fuel shipments from Germany to France so I'm guessing Germany has some stockpiles as well.

I think that there are opportunities here too, but probably only as part of a government sponsored arrangement where they are the customer, so I can see two potential pathways, commercial and generic; and government and very specific. I'd love to see both pathways go forward at the same time as a lot will be learned from the cross fertilisation of one to the other, but I don't think that we can rely on governments to do the right thing in this area.


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PostPosted: Apr 22, 2013 6:21 pm 
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The KISS principle is great for a first fluid fueled reactor! The more pieces and systems there are, the more things that will give problems in the development and construction. This will help keep things on track better, thus making the reactor look better by staying on schedule and operating. Also, the less systems there are the more easily it keep modular with less pieces to be shipped. Keeping the first heat exchanger in the vessel helps with this as well, as long as the package doesn't get too long to ship by truck.

I too, whole heartedly support your direction David. :-) I hope your concept to do without the graphite works out as well, both to prevent having to change it, and prevent having to deal xenon absorption in the graphite.


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