Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

It is currently Jun 18, 2018 12:52 am

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2
Author Message
PostPosted: Jun 22, 2016 3:57 pm 
Offline

Joined: Oct 28, 2013 12:24 am
Posts: 258
Quote:
Zirconium fires in a loss of coolant event should not be a surprise.


It was not a surprise. LWRs had features to deal with hydrogen long before Fukushima happened (passive hydrogen recombiner for PWRs and inerted containment for BWRs). The main problem at Fukushima was the lack of cooling not the hydrogen.

The zirconium-water reaction becomes dangerous only at very high temperatures, at that point the main problem is the loss of coolant not the hydrogen. Also the number of people killed by nuclear power in USA since these last 40 years is very small, this shows you the level of safety of those good old LWRs.

What we must say is that LWRs are very safe and that MSRs are even safer and at a lower price, which is simply the truth (at least for the safety case, for the economic case we are not sure yet).

Also congratulations to Gordon McDowell for his hard work.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Jun 22, 2016 4:04 pm 
Offline

Joined: Nov 14, 2013 7:47 pm
Posts: 568
Location: Iowa, USA
While driving home from class this morning I had a realization that I'd like to share. For my train of thought to make sense I'll have to name some current and historical political figures. I don't want to imply I'm making any kind of political endorsement, I'm merely using what popular politicians have said as examples of how our society has changed. I thought I might refrain from naming names but I thought this would either make things more confusing than enlightening or that it would become quickly obvious which people I was referring to. I have the impression that talking politics is frowned upon here but I'm using how people have responded to politicians historically to examine how people view technological advancement.

While driving home from my morning class I had on the radio a couple of disembodied voices discussing what it means today to be a conservative, liberal, progressive, etc. While they were talking I recalled what one of my history professors had said on the first day of class. He warned us that our textbook would use politically charged words like left, right, conservative, liberal, communist, socialist, and more but we should not place today's definition on those words. These words meant different things at different times.

This warning on the changing definitions of politically charged words was for a course on modern western civilization, with "modern" defined as the period from the French Revolution to the fall of the Soviet Union. This time period included the dropping of the first nuclear weapon, the Cuban missile crisis, and humans exploring the moon.

In the Thorium Remix 2016 video we see Mr. Sorensen quote JFK about how America was going to put men on the moon and bring them safely back. JFK admitted this meant developing new technologies, and creating new materials. He didn't know how we were going to do this or who exactly was going to do it. I had to wonder how Americans reacted to this. In hindsight we know that Americans landed on the moon and made it back to Earth safely. Some people had to see JFK as a raving lunatic (if you'll pardon the pun). There is also no doubt that there were many people that took this challenge as something that could be done, and took it as a matter of national pride that it would be done.

Today we have Donald Trump talking about how he wants to make America great again. He can't say exactly how it will get done, or exactly who will help him lead the nation to this goal, but he is confident that it can and will be done during his term as President of the United States. The parallels between these two personalities stuck me. What struck me more is how people seem to be responding. JFK was largely seen as a confident leader with grand aspirations, Trump is largely seen as a rodeo clown.

This is where I was reminded of someone pointing out that JFK, if he were alive today, would be seen as too conservative for the Republicans. JFK was a Democrat and he was a very patriotic and nationalistic figure. People that speak today like JFK did then would be viewed by many as a right wing nut job. This shift was not sudden.

Ronald Reagan is seen as a conservative icon. He famously said, "I didn't leave the Democrat Party, the Democrat Party left me." When JFK spoke of American excellence he did so openly and without question since this was not a controversial statement. People believed that only America could put people on the moon. In Reagan's time the idea of American excellence was seen as a conservative idea, however one might define conservative for that time. Obama has stated that American excellence is just the same as Australian excellence, Brazilian excellence, or Canadian excellence. Which is one way of saying that when everyone excels then no one does.

I believe I've made this connection before but only this morning I think what this means really sunk in. America lost something from when JFK made that famous speech and today. This can explain why Russia has launched another nuclear powered icebreaker this month while America has only one nearly forty year old diesel powered icebreaker even close to the size of what Russia just launched.

I believe the near absence of new nuclear power construction is a symptom of some greater rot in America. I don't know what caused it or how to fix it. Finally seeing a new nuclear reactor go critical in the USA last month is perhaps a sign this rot is ending.

I certainly hope we're seeing American excellence emerge again. If not then how much lower can we possibly slide?

_________________
Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Jun 25, 2016 6:21 am 
Offline

Joined: May 05, 2010 1:14 am
Posts: 129
'... Russia has launched another nuclear powered icebreaker this month while America has only one nearly forty year old diesel powered icebreaker ..'
To be fair, Russia has a lot more real estate fronting the Arctic Ocean. But then, just as the US govt has been relying on Russian launch to orbit capabilities, they were contracting with Russia for ice breaking work to resupply McMurdo Sound base in Antarctica a couple of years ago. The New Zealand government has the adjacent Scott Base, with a land claim, in abeyance, for the area, and shares resupply convoys. The Kiwi panjandrums must have been terrified of reopening the nuclear ship visits controversy of thirty years ago, and quietly prevailed on the Yanks to make do with a diesel burner.


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Jun 25, 2016 10:12 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Dec 22, 2015 8:40 pm
Posts: 359
Location: Florida
Kurt Sellner wrote:
Tim Meyer wrote:
I'm glad you granted me my challenge to you. See if you recognize her:

I do recognize her, I recall her speaking about the Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor with her classmate and business partner from Transatomic Power. I admit I had to search for Dr. Leslie Dewan's name. I just did not recall seeing her in the video since, as you admit, her part in the video is short. I notice that she has no speaking role in the video, I have little doubt her views on thorium differing from that of Mr. Sorensen was a large factor in her playing a cameo in the video.

I will again admit my ignorance on nuclear power before I say that I am not a fan of Transatomic Power. I've seen a couple Transatomic Power WAMSR talks, and some analysis of their proposals from Mr. Sorensen and others. The lack of specifics in their talks leaves me wondering just how far they are in developing their technology. I understand their need to keep some things as trade secrets but they don't say enough to inspire confidence in me, and I suspect that there are many people with an education similar to my own would come away with a similar feeling.

WAMSR is an interesting concept, and the way Transatomic presents it in TED Talks and similar forums is likely to inspire people to want to learn more. I'm just afraid this might backfire to some extent if their design comes up as a bust which, again from my ignorant view, seems quite probable. Success is inspiring, success breeds success. If WAMSR fails then that will give the anti-nuclear people another example to show how nuclear power has failed, and we don't need that.

I mean no disrespect for Dr. Dewan or the people in her company, they are obviously all intelligent, educated, and talented people. I wish them well and hope they are successful. I am merely placing greater faith in the success of Terrestrial Energy and Flibe Energy.

Kurt, I quoted your whole reply for convenience in scrolling this topic on Gordon McDowell's latest triumph in producing a feature length documentary on our mission of the optimum machine for getting at the "fifty-five-quadrillion-dollar (1980s dollars)" energy value of thorium (as Dr. Seaborg had mused in his notes that were ferreted out through the fabulous original research work of the founder of Flibe Energy, Huntsville, AL, Kirk Sorensen).

Finally, yours is the first review that I've found so far of Dr Dewan's design with respect to the present competition in this kind of advanced nuclear reactor category (the last of six in Gen IV International Forum). You didn't mention Copenhagen Atomics. Also, isn't it that Terrestrial's IMSR intends to have SNF burning capability?

The WAMSR proposals appear to be once-through modules that avoid integral chemical processing of the molten salt. This seems to be a serious design issue with MSR proposals in the global advanced reactor community. What company other than Flibe Energy is proposing integral chemical processing? (Xenon Capture with Metal-Organic Framework deserves to be looked at by LFTR engineers.)

Does the Transatomic Power design intend to have integral molten salt processing? Fluids have this great advantage over solids. Why would designers not rather face this challenge head on? I'm much like you, Kurt. Find a way to make it work, yes? But the engineering is insanely complicated to communicate to non-engineers. Yet, convincing non-engineers of the need to introduce this energy technology must be successful.

FE LFTR borrows from the ORNL MSBR program the relatively non-toxic element bismuth--an amazing element and a seemingly perfect "rinsing agent" for hot molten salts in that reductant metals are variously soluble in the molten metal. What other element possesses such necessary characteristics for cleaning the reactor fluids? Just like fluorine, these elements are tailor made for using thorium for a huge amount of very dense baseload energy enough for the far future.

The designers of the MSBR saw the advantages of having a reactor "kidney" (but also a "liver"). So far, Kirk Sorensen appears to be the sole champion for facing down this nuclear engineering Goliath in the face of an industry founded in the solid phase with serious restrictions on solid fuel chemical processing. This aspect of the story could not be well covered in Gordon's film.

Also, I like your historical review. It is relevant to Gordon's film. In energy, the fluid fueled reactor is our present moon shot. Do you think the first 100 days 2017 will be interesting?

Sidebar: S. 2795 is moving in the Senate. But with respect to your historical perspective, what case can be made for funding priorities? Even if NEIMA is passed and signed into law, will it get funded at the level that will facilitate the development, permitting, and licensing of designs such as the FE LFTR?

_________________
"Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it."

—James Arthur Baldwin, American novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic


Top
 Profile  
 
PostPosted: Jun 25, 2016 3:05 pm 
Offline

Joined: Nov 14, 2013 7:47 pm
Posts: 568
Location: Iowa, USA
Tim Meyer wrote:
You didn't mention Copenhagen Atomics.

That is because I had not known of them until today. I read the white paper they posted on their website and they don't seem to offer anything new. That's not to say that they don't have anything new, it's that I did not see it. There is a lot that these nuclear engineering companies cannot say because it is with these small differing details they hope to compete.

Tim Meyer wrote:
Also, isn't it that Terrestrial's IMSR intends to have SNF burning capability?

Terrestrial does not appear to claim to burn waste materials in their reactors, merely that SNF can be used as a source of the enriched uranium they require as fuel. TransAtomic proposes using their MSR design to destroy nuclear waste by neutron bombardment while also consuming the enriched uranium in SNF.

Tim Meyer wrote:
The WAMSR proposals appear to be once-through modules that avoid integral chemical processing of the molten salt.

I read their proposals in the past and their design, if I understand correctly, uses "faster" neutrons to burn uranium, breed fuel, and also annihilate certain kinds of fission products. This is seemingly in contrast to thermal neutrons in LFTR or fast neutrons in some breeders. This is also where I have doubts in their success. To my ignorant mind they seem to be claiming to have found some "sweet spot" in neutron velocities that is slow enough for breeding and yet fast enough for waste annihilating. I won't claim that the people at TransAtomic know any more or less about nuclear physics than the people at Terrestrial or Flibe, just that where TransAtomic sees a glass as half full their competition sees it as half empty. In other words, TransAtomic appears to be rather optimistic where others are not.

Again, I am in no position to criticize the work of people at TransAtomic and I wish them success. I'm just saying that the presentations from TransAtomic were not as convincing as those from Flibe and Terrestrial.

Tim Meyer wrote:
What company other than Flibe Energy is proposing integral chemical processing?

Nearly all of them.

Tim Meyer wrote:
Does the Transatomic Power design intend to have integral molten salt processing?

Yes. Their process would necessarily need to be more complex than most as they propose processing SNF within the reactor.

Tim Meyer wrote:
But the engineering is insanely complicated to communicate to non-engineers. Yet, convincing non-engineers of the need to introduce this energy technology must be successful.

It is insanely complex to communicate to many engineers as well. I've discussed the promise of thorium as an energy source with many engineers and they seem no more receptive to nuclear energy than anyone else. I can discuss the merits of high temperatures and low pressures from LFTR and they'll likely understand that. Where they have a problem is understanding how fission and radiation works.

An example, I was talking with some engineers that we could reduce the volume of nuclear waste by pyro-processing merely by the fact that not all of the remnants of spent fuel from current LWRs are radioactive. They just plain didn't believe me. In their mind all of the stuff that comes out of a nuclear reactor is radioactive, it is simply impossible to separate the non-radioactive stuff from the radioactive stuff since SNF does not contain anything that is non-radioactive. Explaining that there are different kinds of radiation seemed to be lost on them, such that gamma radiation is different than alpha radiation. They also seemed to not understand that long half life materials do not put out as much radiation as short half-life materials, as if a candle that burns twice as bright does not burn half as long.

I believe that the problem lies in our education system. Schools will teach math, physics, and chemistry, and do so in great detail to any one that studies even unrelated topics in college. People that go to college are expected to know these topics in order to graduate regardless of their major. What is not taught well in physics and chemistry classes is anything about the nucleus. We expect history majors to know chemistry but engineering majors know just as much as those history majors about nuclear physics. I do not mean to claim that history majors are stupid or ignorant, quite the opposite really since they know more about their subject than an engineer like me does. What I mean to say is that the people we expect to build power plants in the future, such as mechanical and chemical engineers, know next to nothing about nuclear physics. They don't need to know a whole lot but they should know enough that if a nuclear engineer walks in the room that they need not run for cover out of fear that the person is radioactive.

We need to teach some basics of nuclear physics in high school and college just as we teach the basics of newtonian physics and chemistry. People should not be able to graduate college and not know the difference between gamma radiation and beta radiation, just as they should know the difference between magnetic attraction and static charge attraction.

_________________
Disclaimer: I am an engineer but not a nuclear engineer, mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, or industrial engineer. My education included electrical, computer, and software engineering.


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 20 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2

All times are UTC - 6 hours [ DST ]


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group