Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Oct 13, 2014 9:39 pm 
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I wrote this on my Facebook page.

Martingale, Inc. of Tavernier FL has published a summary description of its ThorCon molten salt reactor. Engineer Jack Devanney and his colleagues have designed a surprisingly complete power plant system fueled by uranium and thorium. It is to be mass-produced using precision steel-fabrication technologies of modern shipyards. Pre-fabricated, quality-tested blocks will be barge-transported then assembled at a below-grade site. ThorCon relies on the technologies developed and tested at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s. Constructed with commercially available materials, its components are replaceable.

ThorCon can produce energy cheaper than coal. Analysis of costs for plant, maintenance, fuel, and operations project electricity costs of about 3 cents/kWh. ThorCon provides safety in depth with four radiation barriers, passive overheat shutdown, two passive cooling systems, and concrete-filled, dual steel-plate walls for protection.

Jack Devanney will present ThorCon's Path to Thorium Utilization at the 3rd annual workshop on accelerator-driven sub-critical systems and thorium utilization at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond VA at 2:30 pm October 15. The copyrighted ThorCon Executive Summary is posted at http://thorcon-energy.com/


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PostPosted: Oct 14, 2014 8:40 am 
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Very interesting, thanks Mr Hargraves.


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PostPosted: Oct 14, 2014 9:46 am 
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They have a lot in common with Terrestrial Energy's IMSR (single fluid converter, graphite moderated, low power, 3 salt loops, built in series, no flibe, no breeding, no online reprocessing, replaceable units,... ) but there are some differences

_ they use a loop design instead of an integral design

_ they use drain tanks

_ they use thorium

_ the entire facility is underground (except the turbines's hall)
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They have 2 different passive cooling systems (different technology) and four containment layers.
They use stainless steel instead of Hastelloy.
They use FNaBe so they will have to deal with tritium.

The concept of using at maximum existing and proven technology is very good, they don't have to do a lot of R&D and take big financial risks. In fact a reactor like the MSRE already has nearly all the advantages that you can obtain from a molten salt reactor ( passive cooling, passive reactivity control, low pressure, chemically inert coolant, economy of resources in a thermal reactor, ..., it just lacks breeding but that's an other debate).


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PostPosted: Oct 14, 2014 7:21 pm 
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It doesn't look like thorium is doing "ThorCon" much good. They essentially have a 235U burner. I would suggest they jettison the thorium altogether so that they have a chance to potentially re-enrich the uranium without severe 232U contamination.


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PostPosted: Oct 15, 2014 4:08 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
It doesn't look like thorium is doing "ThorCon" much good. They essentially have a 235U burner. I would suggest they jettison the thorium altogether so that they have a chance to potentially re-enrich the uranium without severe 232U contamination.


The thorium helps to reduce U235 consumption. Thorcon can run on LEU only, with many advantages such as lower enrichment and easier re-enrichment as you say, but there's a clear downside in increased U235 consumption. Its probably a bit of a wash on the whole, but good to have it as an option.


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PostPosted: Oct 17, 2014 5:53 am 
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Thorium could 'Spice up' the uranium burning reactors by introducing superior fissile U-233 and increasing the burn up. I find this as the real merit of the DMSR. Thorcon could be similar. Similarly, the uranium could add a 'Fast Fission Factor' to the moderated thorium burning reactors, if and when built.


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PostPosted: Oct 17, 2014 10:10 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
It doesn't look like thorium is doing "ThorCon" much good. They essentially have a 235U burner. I would suggest they jettison the thorium altogether so that they have a chance to potentially re-enrich the uranium without severe 232U contamination.

As with many molten salt reactors it is quite flexible in fuel. The fuel cycle used will be heavily dependent on what is available and what politics allow for processing. The key issue in the near term is that the costs are low enough to be the lowest cost source of electricity. This is the key issue to allow rapid expansion.


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PostPosted: Oct 17, 2014 6:45 pm 
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My favorite comment, by C.L.:
Quote:
Only four loops? That's bound to be cheaper than coal! /sarcasm


Attachments:
ThorCon molten salt reactor.jpg
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PostPosted: Oct 18, 2014 1:23 am 
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jaro wrote:
My favorite comment, by C.L.:
Quote:
Only four loops? That's bound to be cheaper than coal! /sarcasm


I don't recall reading it in the execsum, but did they ever explain WHY they think that 'more is better' for the loops? >.<

I would have imagined that it was for containment purposes, but since the diagram shows effective containment at the boundary of the first loop, then I hardly see why they need yet another one,

or do they think too much thermal efficiency is no good and 2 loops is too cheap? /sarcasm


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PostPosted: Oct 18, 2014 2:24 am 
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The loops don't cost that much. This isn't what makes nuclear expensive (for example cost difference between PWR and BWR is trivial).

The purpose of the loops is many-fold. Additional containment, additional, cheap heat sink, additional depressurization capability upon steam leaks (and without generating toxic HF as nitrate salt doesn't react with steam), tritium gettering, and improved integration with the steam cycle (lower melt point, no HF upon steam leak). Plenty - in fact too much - delta T is available with conventional steam cycles. Might as well use or abuse this with delta T - eating loops.


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PostPosted: Oct 21, 2014 9:45 am 
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Cyril R wrote:
Plenty - in fact too much - delta T is available with conventional steam cycles. Might as well use or abuse this with delta T - eating loops.
So why not go with a superheated cycle rather than a conventional cycle?

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PostPosted: Oct 21, 2014 11:20 am 
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You mean like this one https://www.swepco.com/global/utilities ... tsheet.pdf that operates at up to 590C. That is about what we are doing.


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PostPosted: Oct 21, 2014 9:02 pm 
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I wonder what the cold side of the superheated steam cycle is. This could be a reason why they use the, “solar salt”, loop. Unlike a coal plant which uses only water, we can never let the cold side of the loop get too close to going solid.

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PostPosted: Oct 22, 2014 5:14 am 
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The solar salt loop could be avoided.
Looking at positives, at least FLiBe, the 'unobtainium' has been avoided.
The UF4 mentioned in the salt is presumably U-233, available only in research quantities. The salt could best have been a uranium-plutonium fuel with metal thorium blankets to be irradiated to create U-233 for the next version. That brings the initial version close to DMSR/IMSR. Kirk is right, after all.


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PostPosted: Oct 22, 2014 3:29 pm 
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What happens with the Xenon gas and the noble metals produced as fision products?


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