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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2016 6:43 am 
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Depending on how long until the first LFTR is operational we might have a U233 mine from spent fuel using Thor Energy and Light bridge Thorium+Plutonium formulations.

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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2016 1:58 pm 
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I cringe at the thought of Kirk posting a comment to this round between you two, Kurt and KitemanSA. There's 12,000 employees at Savannah River Site (that includes the SRNL) between a bunch of private contractors and federal and state agencies.
Quote:
History

During the early 1950s, SRS began to produce materials used in nuclear weapons, primarily tritium and plutonium-239. Five reactors were built to produce nuclear materials. Support facilities, including two chemical separations plants, a heavy water extraction plant, a nuclear fuel and target fabrication facility, a tritium extraction facility and waste management facilities were also built.

Irradiated materials were moved from the reactors to one of the two chemical separations plants. In these facilities, known as “canyons,” the irradiated fuel and target assemblies were chemically processed to separate useful products from waste. After refinement, nuclear materials were shipped to other DOE sites for final application. SRS produced about 36 metric tons of plutonium from 1953 to 1988.
All that plutonium went into weapons aimed at the U.S.S.R. Since 2001 as agreed with Russia, SRS K Area Complex secures now 37.5 tonnes WG Pu? Senator Graham is intent on the MOX fabrication. Secretary Moniz wants dilute and dispose (geologically at WIPP?).

This topic has an EFT discussion begun March 2014 by Dr. Hargraves (LinkedIn): Plutonium disposition

Sidenote: Dr. Hargraves has just this month founded ThorCon International.

Seems a molten chloride fast reactor (MCFR) would be the better machine for burning plutonium. Maybe SRS officials are thinking about that (TerraPower, Inc?).
Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Just use an MSR without thorium in it to "burn" plutonium. Thorium and the light uranics just complicate things if burning plutonium is all you're trying to do. I'm pretty convinced that had research on MSR continued into the early 80s they would have ditched the thorium part of the DMSR concept and just gone to a straight U/Pu burner.

Back to the SRS overview:
Quote:
Through the aggressive acceleration of the SRS area completion schedule, the plan achieves a 75 percent Site footprint reduction by 2012, reducing the ACP schedule by 10 years over previous projections.

The physical size of SRS will remain unchanged but will open the Site to new missions. Contracting activities to perform this work will take place locally, providing jobs, training and benefits where it is needed. To ensure that taxpayers receive the maximum economic stimulus benefit, SRS is using American products and contracting American businesses to complete the Recovery Act mission.
New missions! What? That was four years ago. No news on a TerraPower contract with SRS for its MCFR plutonium burner? Slackers.

So, a 310 square mile nuclear reservation in South Carolina. Not Iowa. States will never have independent authority with nuclear materials. Period. Not since the first use of nuclear materials for atomic weapons in the U.S. and the Pentagon's Military Industrial Complex. Ames, IA, U.S. DOE CMI work has a bearing on the goals of this forum.

Armchair nuclear engineer is fun! It's really easy. And requires very little commitment or work. (If SRS offers me a job . . . might begin to glow in the dark?)

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on Aug 24, 2016 12:46 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2016 2:14 pm 
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macpacheco wrote:
Depending on how long until the first LFTR is operational we might have a U233 mine [mine?] from spent fuel using Thor Energy and Light bridge Thorium+Plutonium formulations.
Can you please link some articles, macpacheco, and perhaps offer some details? Thanks!

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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2016 7:28 pm 
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KitemanSA wrote:
Kurt Sellner wrote:
With respect I disagree. A liquid fluoride thorium reactor is a reactor that uses thorium as fuel, if you are proposing a reactor that uses a mix of thorium, uranium, and plutonium as fuel then that certainly falls outside of that definition.
Well, since Sorensen invented the term, I guess he should really have the say. But personally I think your definition is foolish. It implies you cannot start up a LFTR since thorium is not fissile so you need EITHER uranium OR plutonium OR both. It also implies that it would stop being a LFTR the instant any Pu239 gets bred.
The 2.2+ Fluid LFTR runs on thorium and uses SNF extract as a secondary fuel / breeding controller.


Kiteman, it appears that I hit a nerve with you because now you're being petty and putting words in my mouth. If you don't like my suggestion to name your proposed reactor something other than a LFTR then I can agree to disagree. Can we just move on?

I do have another question for you though, it's something I just thought of today. If one were to operate a LFTR as you propose, putting in SNF derived uranium and plutonium as makeup (not starter) fuel, then isn't this a burner (not a breeder) reactor? There's nothing wrong with that, just so you don't assume I'm trying to poke at that nerve again, I just want to be clear on how you propose this reactor to operate. You call this SNF derived makeup fuel a "breeding controller", can you expand on that? Is this to speed up the breeding rate so that U-233 is produced more quickly so that it can be extracted to fuel another LFTR? If so then why not just use that SNF derived fuel as a starter charge in the next LFTR? Kiteman, I feel as if I missed an important detail in your proposal, I can speculate further but I'd rather have you explain it.

I'll also ask the same question that Kiteman asked earlier since it may have been missed before, does anyone know how much PuF can be safely dissolved in FLiBe salt? Knowing this gives an idea on how much SNF Kiteman's LFTR can burn.

It appears that the people at Flibe Energy are not concerned about PuF building up in the salt to the point it becomes an issue. Terrestrial and Transatomic address the high concentration of plutonium in their fuel salt by using a different carrier salt composition than FLiBe.

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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2016 9:27 pm 
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In going back through this thread I saw something I missed that I'd like to comment on now.
Tim Meyer wrote:
The goals of Transatomic Power (TAP), Cambridge, MA, with their WAMSR could be engineered for U-233 breeding to supply Flibe Energy, Inc. LFTRs with start charges, for example. Does the Terrestrial Energy (Canada) IMSR (DMSR) share the same goals as the TAP WAMSR? Both are not interested in thorium start charges. The FE LFTR is expressly a thorium machine.


Mr. Meyer, I can think of a number of reasons that makes using an IMSR/DMSR or WAMSR difficult or impossible for breeding starter fuel for LFTR. The biggest is that Terrestrial and Transatomic have designed their reactors to be burners. They do breed a portion of their fuel from uranium but the net result is still less fuel out than what is put in. If anything the opposite would be true, LFTR could be used to fuel the others. As pointed out many times on this forum neutrons are expensive, therefore using the U-233 from LFTRs to fuel uranium burners is just not right.

There might be a time when we have hundreds of LFTRs in operation that it makes economic sense to use some of that U-233 to fuel burners but we are not there yet.

I recall reading something about India experimenting with breeding U-233 with plutonium fueled reactors. This makes sense only if their are technical limitations preventing them from using the plutonium as a starter fuel in a thorium breeder.

I found a mention of using plutonium to breed thorium in the document linked below but saw no mention of molten salts.
http://www.npcil.nic.in/pdf/nuclear%20p ... native.pdf

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PostPosted: Aug 23, 2016 10:23 pm 
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Kurt Sellner wrote:
It appears that the people at Flibe Energy are not concerned about PuF building up in the salt to the point it becomes an issue.


You really have no idea what we do or what we work on, and when we do make available large and well-reviewed documents like the EPRI report, they are summarily ignored by the visitors to this board, who prefer to argue about the angels dancing on the head of a pin rather than what the LFTR design really is.

Really, I don't even know why I keep this place up. I should just delete the whole thing. It accomplishes nothing and just wastes time.

Gentlemen, don't be a bit surprised one day when you come to this site and find it fully password protected and your accounts deleted.


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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 12:27 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Kurt Sellner wrote:
It appears that the people at Flibe Energy are not concerned about PuF building up in the salt to the point it becomes an issue.


You really have no idea what we do or what we work on, ...

Mr. Sorensen,
You sir, are of course correct. I read what I can, ponder, speculate, and discuss. I have seen many, if not all, of the videos you have made with Mr. McDowell, as well as read many things on the subject over the years. I saw you explain on how thorium breeds to different elements, each with their own rates of fission and capture, leaving at the end only about 2% of the thorium as transuranic elements. Those elements will reach a steady state in the salt since those elements will fission eventually. From that I assumed the level of plutonium in a LFTR carrier salt was small enough to be of little concern. I was educated on the definition of "assume" in the Army by more than one irate Drill Sergeant.

I do not recall seeing any issues with the solubility of plutonium in FLiBe salt, concerns of the plutonium settling out, etc. As such I was lead to assume this is not an issue, or the issue was solved in the design. That is why I used the modifier "it appears" in my statement. I decided to place my standard disclaimer in my signature line since it seems I have enough knowledge of the subject to lead people to assume I know more than I do. Being accused of being a doctoral candidate on this forum was flattering but also on some level frightening.

I can only imagine what this forum looks like to you. I recall what it was like when I joined the Army, most of the people I dealt with were seemingly half my age and few had an education beyond high school. I enlisted to be in military intelligence after graduating college with two engineering degrees. The level of ignorance I had to deal with was maddening at times. That level of ignorance that separated me from them must be like what separates many of us from you. I suspect that you have little time to educate us and keeping trade secrets limit you further. If it looks to you like we are quibbling over minutia it's only because we are seeking information on a very complex topic and lack the years of intense study you have experienced.

I'm willing to learn and I take in what I can. I've had the opportunity to read up more on LFTR and post here with such regularity in the past two weeks since that was the semester break. Classes started again today so, if it makes you feel better, it is quite likely you'll see much less of me posting here until Thanksgiving or Christmas.

I don't know if my attempt to smooth things over (and some lame attempts at humor) are helping or if I'm just digging a deeper hole. This is your site and I am your guest, obviously you can do what you believe is best for the future of this forum.

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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 3:53 am 
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Kurt Sellner wrote:
KitemanSA wrote:
Kurt Sellner wrote:
With respect I disagree. A liquid fluoride thorium reactor is a reactor that uses thorium as fuel, if you are proposing a reactor that uses a mix of thorium, uranium, and plutonium as fuel then that certainly falls outside of that definition.
Well, since Sorensen invented the term, I guess he should really have the say. But personally I think your definition is foolish. It implies you cannot start up a LFTR since thorium is not fissile so you need EITHER uranium OR plutonium OR both. It also implies that it would stop being a LFTR the instant any Pu239 gets bred.
The 2.2+ Fluid LFTR runs on thorium and uses SNF extract as a secondary fuel / breeding controller.
I do have another question for you though, it's something I just thought of today. If one were to operate a LFTR as you propose, putting in SNF derived uranium and plutonium as makeup (not starter) fuel, then isn't this a burner (not a breeder) reactor?
No, as I've stated repeatedly, the Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) derived fuel is added in just sufficient quantities to make the unit a sustainer (aka an iso-breeder). Most of the energy will come from thorium derived U233 with just enough SNF extract to achieve sustainment.

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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 9:40 am 
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Kirk,

Thank you for having me on your forum. I've learned a great deal and made some contacts. My first post was on the EPRI report. I obtained my own copy. No one else mentioned having done so. I refer to it.

It's clear from some of the interactions here that respect for you and your efforts could be better, to say the least. Your expression of disgust is saddening and understandable. If this forum gets purged, it will be a loss of very useful information.

To Kurt: It's Tim. Not Mr. Meyer. And I said "engineered" but then I'm not a nuclear engineer. I'm working with one young nuclear engineering student at Georgia Tech. Usually in my experience, when a goal is defined, so is the aim of the effort.

To KitemanSA: Good going, chief.

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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 10:35 am 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
My first post was on the EPRI report. I obtained my own copy. No one else mentioned having done so. I refer to it.


Thank you Tim, you are the exception to my frustration on the EPRI report.


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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 11:43 am 
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What an awesome honor, Kirk! I wish I were qualified to work for you on the LFTR. Instead, I'm working on the public outreach to influence Congress and the President to pave the way for Flibe Energy, Inc., the best company.

I'm most interested in the salt online processing. Where there's a will, there's a way.

And lithium depletion technology. FE LFTR will create a demand for HD Li. I'm studying ionic liquids.

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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 12:44 pm 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
macpacheco wrote:
Depending on how long until the first LFTR is operational we might have a U233 mine [mine?] from spent fuel using Thor Energy and Light bridge Thorium+Plutonium formulations.
Can you please link some articles, macpacheco, and perhaps offer some details? Thanks!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=68w4JoZ76UA
http://thorenergy.no
Under publications

Those are recollections from almost 2 years ago, but as I understand it, Thor Energy is past halfway through testing of their Thorium+Plutonium and a Thorium additive to regular LEU fuel testing on the Halden reactor (On the Norway-Sweden border).
All reports so far is that testing has been boring (results match predictions quite well), so in essence they need less than another year until they have all the data required to obtain NRC/... approval for loading this fuel on a commercial reactor.
Thor Energy is a consortium that includes Westinghouse and a few reactor operators, so it appears they have a few customers lined up to load a few Th+Pu fuel rods as soon as regulatory approval is obtained. The first load is expected to be a mix of regular LEU / Th+Pu fuel, followed by a regular Th+Pu load.
Some customers are expected to use this fuel as once through, so their spent nuclear fuel will have U232/U233/U234/U235 (mostly U233), and little Plutonium left as the Thorium is at least 85% of the fuel (there are a few different formulations).
Part of the effort is the creation of a longer burnup fuel formulation, as the Thorium is extremely useful here:
Th232->U233->fission produces less noble gas neutron poisons than U235/Pu239 fission
Th232->U233->fission results in a flatter power curve over time, as it has better neutronic behavior in the thermal spectrum
Thor Energy fuel will be produced with larger cavities to accumulate Xe/Kr
The longer the burnup, the more the main fissile becomes U233 vs Pu239/Pu241.
Eventually there's too many neutron poisons and too little fissile to overpower the poisons, but consider 100 tons of spent fuel of that stuff, just 5% U233 content is 5 tons of U233.
If at shutdown 5-10% of the fuel is U233, that's your U233 mine (reprocess, fluorinate it, and you have your LFTR start up charge, although it will be a mix of many Uranium isotopes)

If reprocessing is being done for a LFTR, there's little/no problem with specific isotope mix, what matters is having enough fissile to startup (unlike PWR/BWR which can't handle too much of some heavier isotopes), since what's necessary is enough neutrons to start breeding more U233, in little time the core will be running mostly U233.

The very interesting conclusion when looking at the whole Th232->U233, U235, U238->Pu239 fission probabilities is that eventually everything fissions, as long as there are enough neutrons
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plutonium ... sahara.svg

Tim, have you watched all of Kirk's presentations, specially this one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YVSmf_qmkbg
It a long one, but its very worthwhile, Thanks Kirk !

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Last edited by macpacheco on Aug 24, 2016 1:06 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 12:51 pm 
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Excellent, macpacheco! Thank you for this and the updates.
macpacheco wrote:
PS: Not a nuclear anything . . . And its been a while since I studied this stuff properly, so I'm bound to make a mistake or two.
Well, if you're not a nuclear anything, I'm less than anything. The point is how to get at the thorium fuel cycle. And especially for pro-FE LFTR folks, the LFTR fissile start up is a quandary.

Little disappointed the YouTube videos didn't integrate the accompanying slides.

The "mining" SNF assemblies means serious processing. Given that in the U.S., the only project for nuclear fuel re-processing is Savannah River Site (SRS), and the efforts now to close it down or limit it to dilute and dispose (D&D), how do we get the U-233 (that will come with the U-232 and the other uranium isotopes)—in the U.S.?

Flibe Energy LFTR Development Strategy—Kirk Sorensen Flibe Energy ThEC13

Above is from the same conference in the fall of 2013 (third Energy from Thorium Conference). Kirk, your presentation style is excellent. Kind of a rook yours was just before dinner. You managed to squeeze in the fissile start up charge being discussed here, and the salt vacuum distillation and re-processing. Chemical re-processing is a huge issue considering the SRS MOX effort that is so controversial. Too bad Senator Lindsey Graham couldn't get traction in the 2016 primaries.

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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 6:14 pm 
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KitemanSA wrote:
No, as I've stated repeatedly, the Spent Nuclear Fuel (SNF) derived fuel is added in just sufficient quantities to make the unit a sustainer (aka an iso-breeder). Most of the energy will come from thorium derived U233 with just enough SNF extract to achieve sustainment.


Kiteman,
I think we're arguing over semantics again so I'll move on, perhaps I'll pick this up again later. Moving on...

Work today was slow so I had some time to ponder about your proposal. In thinking about this I have a concern on your Np-237 extraction. I'll explain.

The path from thorium or U-235 to neptunium by neutron bombardment has a few different paths but nearly all of them end at Np-237. Those that happen to stop at a different isotope are unlikely and those that skip over have a high probability to fission or land back at Np-237 again. This will lead to a high purity Np-237 product. Then we get to the U-238 to Pu-239 breeding part you propose.

While the thorium to Np-237 path might have a couple different paths the path from U-238 to Pu-239 really has just one, the others being very complex and with low probabilities.
U-238 + n -----> U-239 -(B-)-> Np-239 -(B-)-> Pu-239

Unless you are keeping your thorium containing salt separate from your U-238 containing salt then the Np-239 is going to contaminate your Np-237 and also not be available for fuel once it decays to Pu-239. How do you propose addressing this?

I have a few ideas on how this might work but I'd like to hear yours before we might discuss their merits.

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PostPosted: Aug 24, 2016 7:06 pm 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
To Kurt: It's Tim. Not Mr. Meyer. And I said "engineered" but then I'm not a nuclear engineer. I'm working with one young nuclear engineering student at Georgia Tech. Usually in my experience, when a goal is defined, so is the aim of the effort.


Tim,
First, with my time in school and the military I've been trained to address people by their rank or title and surname. I've continued the habit since I've found in business relations people typically respond well to being addressed this way. It's become such a habit that even family members often address me as "Mr. Sellner". Forgive me if I fall back into my habit.

While I see no reason someone cannot engineer a MSR that burns plutonium and breeds thorium into U-233. Perhaps it's my clinging to semantics showing but you proposed engineering an IMSR/DMSR or WAMSR to breed thorium, that is something I find difficult and still retaining the design goals they were engineered to meet.

Assuming that these currently proposed MSR designs prove workable then moving on to engineering a MSR that eats plutonium and spits out U-233 could be nearly trivial. What concerns me is that the neutrons used to breed U-233 are unavailable for keeping the source reactor critical. IMSR needs those neutrons to maintain it's long operational life, and WAMSR needs those neutrons to burn U-238.

There is then a business case to be made. I believe that making a business case is probably the biggest hurdle.

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