Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Jul 26, 2016 11:22 am 
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Hear hear! KitemanSA. Agreed.

There is no thorium myth. There is thorium hype coming from enthusiastic pro-nuclear lay people who perhaps are too impatient with highly complex subjects and are not motivated to delve into the details? The most complex aspects have less to do with how to build the best nuclear reactor.

Had Admiral Rickover endorsed Dr. Weinberg's fluid-fueled thermal spectrum design to begin the thorium fuel cycle, had Rickover backed Weinberg's ORNL project to completion, where would we be today? What would have happened had Rickover been present at Oak Ridge on October 2, 1968, when AEC Chairman Dr. Seaborg started the MSRE running on U-233 for the first time. Did Rickover know about it? Or maybe it was already a doomed project?

(Thanks for your 2008 illuminating article, Mr. Kirk, Milton Shaw: Decline of the American Nuclear Establishment. I'll proofread if you want.)

During the Thorium Energy Alliance presentations, at least one member commented on how this energy technology policy issue needs someone like Hyman Rickover to get it done. Rickover was bold. Would there have been nuclear power without him? Would his brash, in-your-face, cut-the-crap manner work to get the thorium MSBR instituted today? Evidently Shaw's mode was like Rickover's, his erstwhile boss. If we would "cut the crap" today, we'd acknowledge Alvin Weinberg's vision and get the program started now--fast.

Some here feel the U.S. will lose in this competition. I don't. We're in a lame duck year. What will get done before January 2017? By February, if this nation wanted, there's only one U.S. company (Huntsville, AL) qualified to complete the Weinberg machine. The U.S. should award the contract and get on with it. (TAP of Cambridge has evidently passed on a pure thorium cycle. A TAP design could build up the U-233 starter inventory for the LFTR fleet.)

The ORNL SINAP CRADA better have some pro-U.S. provisions. Meanwhile, Alec says a D.C. lobbyist will be working for our only bidder on the project. Good. I wish some great news on the LFTR would break soon. Our nation needs to recover from the gaff committed by Milt Shaw. The ORNL MSBR program needs to be immediately resumed and completed.

Not myth but mystery. How is it that the extremely intelligent world-class minds in the IAEA not notice the absence of the MSBR (LFTR) from their ARIS? (It has the incomplete MSR placeholder.) Remember the Nautilus? Rickover wasn't invited. (The administration had to quickly save face.)

Maybe the two-fluid graphite moderator problem could not be solved, or it could have been solved had the money been invested in the solution (WASH-1097)? FE doesn't like one-fluid or DMSR (IMSR, TE, Canada). Keeping the core fuel salt free of Pa, FPs, DPs is a more than a worthy goal to be successfully accomplished by ingenuity; pray it's already protected IP.

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PostPosted: Nov 16, 2016 8:03 pm 
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In relative terms to some of the others here I don't think I know enough about Thorium MSRs to comment on how valid/not-valid the critique is, though in general I tend to find Greenpeace's stance against nuclear to be pretty useless. However I don't think we need them or anyone in the 'environmental movement' .

As you might guess based off my name I have some considerable passion for the conservation of our world's biodiversity, a job that is not tended to by Greenpeace, and in particular the conservation of tigers. I've read up a fair bit on the activities of conservation organizations in this area and I've heard a fair bit about the activities of environmental organizations, mainly from pro-nuclear people complaining about their activities ( with some justification ).

Fundamentally the environmental movement is just that, a movement, which is advertising for specific policies, which for the environmental movement tends to mean banning one thing or another or advocating for government to do one thing or another, these are not organizations that make and execute plans with specific measurable goals that directly relate to the goals of their organization. I don't think it's all that surprising that they become echo-chambers that are remarkably well insulated from the facts of the real world.

Conservation organizations, WWF ( World Wildlife Fund ) and WCS ( Wildlife Conservation Society ) being the most prominent, make and execute plans all the time and measure their planning against their goals, all the time. While they advocate for governments to take action they also ask of themselves the question 'what can we do to help' and then do it. Successful conservation programs require balancing diverse interests and a fairly firm grasp on the actual data about the population you're trying to protect. Now neither of these organizations are pro-nuclear and WWF actually supports trying to push towards a 100% renewables grid for 2050, but that's hardly a high priority goal for them and with some coaxing I think there might be an opening to change some minds.

As I'm sure some of you have heard Wind and Solar have impacts on wild places and I think this offers a compelling 'ice breaker' to getting these organizations to look seriously at the impacts of renewables compared to nuclear, especially when some of those negative impacts are knocking right on their door.

link

On the face of it the plan in this link doesn't seem that dramatic, China and Russia working together to solve energy problems is not a new thing but 8 GW of wind power from the Amur region should get conservationists thinking, it certainly got me thinking. What would 8GW of wind power in the Amur region look like? Every ridge strung with a line of wind turbines, itself a blight on the landscape perhaps but not inherently disastrous if they can manage to avoid cutting huge swaths of forest down ( an optimistic projection given the Scottish case ) and with a maintenance road. That last bit is a huge deal, the struggle to save the Amur Tiger is about preventing poaching, habitat loss and degradation is bad but poaching is threat #1 by a long stretch and one of the big fights they've had has been getting logging companies to dismantle their roads when they're done to limit access to the areas where these tigers live. Maintenance roads can't be closed and 8GW of wind power would likely be spread over a very large geographic area, providing access to poachers to all that forest even if the wind farms don't level the forest in the first place.

Here we have a chance to change some minds, Dale Miquelle ( conservationists working with tigers in the Russian Far East ) almost certainly could be convinced of the advantages of nuclear over renewables and if how I'm imagining wind power in the Amur region is at all correct then he'd be liable to throw a fit. I expect that these sorts of scenarios replicate themselves all over the world even where poaching isn't an issue. Push comes to shove renewables are very land-intensive, nuclear is on the extreme other end even with all the mining and enriching thrown in there and while environmentalists may not care about habitat destruction for the sake of wind turbines and solar arrays, conservationists surely do.


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PostPosted: Nov 17, 2016 8:57 am 
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Amur Tiger,

I think your very interesting point belongs in a subject topic that supports thorium energy by fluid fueled reactor and especially according to the plan by Flibe Energy of Huntsville, AL, whose chief is our host here, and who was not acknowledged in your post.

The environmental impacts with wind and solar power you described are solved given a robust FE LFTR deployment. Read: Machine Design article re: Th vs U reactors

So much wrangling on the issues would vanish if at least one FE LFTR were running. This forum is ten years old this month. ORNL was so close in 1970. I just saw part of the latest senate hearing on "The Future of Nuclear Energy" and the focus is all on LWR tech. I doubt anyone here has seen the whole hearing. Was TMSR tech mentioned?

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PostPosted: Nov 18, 2016 1:00 pm 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
Amur Tiger,

I think your very interesting point belongs in a subject topic that supports thorium energy by fluid fueled reactor and especially according to the plan by Flibe Energy of Huntsville, AL, whose chief is our host here, and who was not acknowledged in your post.

The environmental impacts with wind and solar power you described are solved given a robust FE LFTR deployment. Read: Machine Design article re: Th vs U reactors

So much wrangling on the issues would vanish if at least one FE LFTR were running. This forum is ten years old this month. ORNL was so close in 1970. I just saw part of the latest senate hearing on "The Future of Nuclear Energy" and the focus is all on LWR tech. I doubt anyone here has seen the whole hearing. Was TMSR tech mentioned?


My view is that a VVER even would manage to prevent the main problems with wind power for the local wildlife while also addressing CO2 emissions, LFTR shares these benefits and obviously brings other advantages to the table over a VVER but the crux of my point is that nuclear, regardless of reactor type, has less of an ecological impact then wind in this specific circumstance ( and likely many others, hence the deforestation of Scotland for the sake of wind ).

Certainly I'd like to expand on some of the ideas presented in that post and make something of a more comprehensive argument on Environmental vs Conservation organizations and how the nuclear industry might address this difference in kind to break down some of the ingrained opposition to nuclear regardless of whether you're selling a PWR design or an LFTR.


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PostPosted: Nov 18, 2016 3:26 pm 
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True, Tiger. But this topic is "exposing the thorium myth" and your comments on pro-nuclear (Nuclear Renaissance is more pertinent) with respect to the ecological impacts of wind do not address this topic author's original question. Here's the first post:
Eino wrote:
I try to keep a balanced perspective. I've been looking at this Thorium thing for a few months now. I'm still trying to find it's Achille's heel. Here's a quote from an article I found:

"Nuclear enthusiasts have been singing the praises of nuclear reactors that use thorium as their fuel instead of uranium. Jan Beránek analyses the claims - and finds that thorium is a mere distraction on the way to our renewable future."

Here's the article:

http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/2334778/exposing_the_thorium_myth.html

What features of this article are valid? What are actual valid criticisms of using Thorium as a fuel? I figure the people on this sight [sic] [might] be able to give me a clear picture of what the real problems are to its use.

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PostPosted: Nov 18, 2016 4:06 pm 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
True, Tiger. But this topic is "exposing the thorium myth" and your comments on pro-nuclear (Nuclear Renaissance is more pertinent) with respect to the ecological impacts of wind do not address this topic author's original question.


Certainly they don't address Thorium specifically, they try to address the arguments that are pushed on nuclear as a whole, framed in that piece to focus on Thorium. Indeed the focus of much of that article is on 'problems' that are shared with Uranium based nuclear power.

Quote:
However thorium retains all the other main hazards - in fuel mining and fabrication, reactor safety, production of dangerous waste, and last but not least, nuclear weapons proliferation.
...
The future is renewable, and that's where we need to go as quickly as possible.


I figured the earlier posters had addressed the fabrications and exaggerations of that piece already and so hoped to explain some of the downsides of renewables that are often ignored.


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