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PostPosted: May 20, 2016 8:31 am 
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It is nice to see a pro-nuclear advocacy article: http://nationalinterest.org/feature/how-america-can-dominate-global-nuclear-energy-16274

Flibe Energy is one of the companies mentioned towards the end of the article, and thorium is mentioned as well.


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PostPosted: May 20, 2016 2:27 pm 
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Excellent post, Jim!

How America Can Dominate Global Nuclear Energy, Lauren R. Sukin, May 19, 2016 wrote:
Declining [U.S.] competitiveness as other exporters master nuclear-power technology is a key component of the emerging market shift, but a lack of government support for the U.S. nuclear industry compared to the other exporting nations (Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, France and Canada) constitutes the central problem. For example, the United States’ high degree of regulation on its nuclear industry, difficulties for the United States in securing adequate cooperation agreements with importing partners, a lack of public funding for nuclear energy projects, waning research and development budgets, and partisan conflicts that have undermined a nuclear waste solution all hinder the U.S. nuclear energy industry—and all could be solved by improved federal policies.

Have you read my posts on recent BIPARTISAN U.S. congressional action on drastically improving the U.S. nuclear research and regulatory environment? Search on H.R. 4084 and 4979 and S. 2795. I urge you to write to your Representative, Senators, and our President to pass this legislation.

Others can master nuclear power technology that was originally developed in the United States because we shared our knowledge earned in the effort to bring an end to perhaps the worst war in human history, and led in the international efforts for peaceful nuclear energy.

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PostPosted: May 20, 2016 3:12 pm 
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How America Can Dominate Global Nuclear Energy, Lauren R. Sukin, May 19, 2016 wrote:
In particular, the United States could capture both a market and a security advantage if it were to continue to invest in reactor designs that are more difficult to use for military purposes. For example, small modular reactors, such as the mPower, NuScale, Westinghouse SMR and Flibe Energy reactors are already in development in the United States (among others). These designs are more resistant to nuclear-weapons proliferation than other power plant designs, since they don’t use weapons-grade fuel, can operate for a long amount of time without refueling, and could be refueled by exporters without the need for domestic fuel supplies and fuel-cycle infrastructure in importing countries. If the United States could capture a larger market share through the use of SMR reactors, that would constitute a significant contribution to global nonproliferation efforts. However, all this will be no easy feat: at the moment, these designs mostly live on paper right now, so it will take both private and public investment to make this strategy viable. Other reactor designs, such as thorium-based reactors, will require even more substantial R&D investments to be cost-effective, but these raise prospects for reducing proliferation risks from nuclear energy even further.

The Flibe Energy LFTR design draws from the results of the ORNL MSRE that ran from 1965 to 1969. And it was conceived as a design to take advantage of the superior thorium fuel cycle. Others may be "mostly" on paper. The NuScale licensing begins this fall, if I got that right.

I'm glad Ms. Sukin published "Flibe Energy" but saddened she didn't read the design summary. The "operate for a long amount of time without refueling" is the wrong description of the FE LFTR operation. The supreme unassailable performance attribute of this superior design is that it is a continuously flowing system where all parameters are dynamic: as it is continuously burning, forming, extracting, and re-fueling until servicing interruption that is intended to be as infrequent as possible (tens of years?). What other design does this? And thorium supply is good throughout the world so the SMR "advantage" described is not applicable to the FE LFTR design.

This last point is unique for the Flibe Energy LFTR. First, the IAEA needs more support for its mandate after Fukushima and evidence of mission performance. An FE LFTR-like machine will require serious security overhead and real-time monitoring. For U.S. FE LFTR installations, good security jobs for veterans!

There are few "gotchas" with the FE LFTR: one is beryllium. The inventors (ORNL tax-payer-funded world-class researchers, scientists, metallurgists, engineers, and more) hassled through the choice of salt. Kirk Sorensen, Founder, CEO and Chief Technology Officer, Flibe Energy, Technology Champion, is clearly so convinced of their scientific wisdom on this one decision, that he has gambled his company on it. Based on statements by Edgar Vidal, PhD, Materion, supply is good; Materion's parent was the company that originally supplied ORNL's MSRE!

Of all designs, the Flibe Energy Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor is the only one that proposes a pure thorium fuel cycle in the fluid state. It is therefore a major game changer in global nuclear energy technology. Given the cancellation of the MSBR program and thorium research at ORNL in the 1970s under Cold War pressures, and the fall of the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989, there is only one reactor design of them all that deserves special status in the U.S. nuclear regulation laws.

And the FE LFTR may become the only design that will have a nonproliferation licensing requirement unlike all uranium fuel cycle machines. It's the Faustian bargain. Will the Pa-233 external decay tank be accommodated in the security plan? Lars, David, Kirk and others went rounds on that one. The FE LFTR will develop a level of uranium-232 that spoils the fissile U-233 for weapons use.

I doubt if terrorists will achieve a nuclear weapons manufacturing process. We have North Korea. If combatants can get hold of enough radioactive material exploded with TATP, for example, they can use this dirty bomb to kill smaller numbers than a fission device but certainly make the bomb area radioactive. Storming a FE LFTR installation, breaking through into the containment area, grabbing the seriously hot protactinium decay tank, what? and chopper that out? Throw it on an 18-wheeler? And get how far?

Right. The terrorists would build their own thorium breeder? Proliferation? The U.S. NRC and DOE are too careful? The IAEA? Why do we have long lines at the airport?


I'm a little disappointed that Lauren didn't check the congressional actions that were happening while she was writing this article. This U.S. situation is about to blow up for the better.

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on May 25, 2016 12:35 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 8:44 am 
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I have not read the proposed bill since I've seen proposed bills written then die in committee or never be brought to a vote. Perhaps this time will be different.

Side note: the biggest worry with beryllium is in its metallic form, especially dust from grinding or machining. However, for an MSR it will be in fluoride form and I believe the risks are lower than what people typically mean when they discuss (metallic) beryllium. And fortunately, in the manufacture of beryllium metal, the processing of the raw ore converts it into beryllium fluoride (which is relatively cheap - the high price comes from converting it from a fluoride to a metal).

Also, there is a great paper in the repository discussing the various pros/cons of molten salt choices - ORNL/TM-2006/12 - that is very informative. The main discussion is in regards to using salts in the AHTR but the properties/data are informative.


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PostPosted: May 23, 2016 11:12 am 
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Jim L. wrote:
Perhaps this time will be different.
Based on the May 19, 2016 nuclear summit at DOE last Thursday (Improving the Economics of America’s Nuclear Power Plants; agenda is here), good things are coming for the significant and substantial support for nuclear in the U.S. and that definitely includes advanced designs. The absence of the environmental price of carbon is undercutting nuclear. Coming bipartisan legislation with urgent and strong support in Congress and the White House intends to support the nuclear markets.

Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) said the bipartisan bill S. 2795 NEIMA received overwhelming (17 to 3 vote) in committee the day before this summit (May 18, 2016). Recent developments can be followed at: Policy to help move forward

The webcast (requires Silverlight in Windows for streaming) is almost four hours long. At one point someone said (ID update later) it is very important for citizens in the electorate to learn the details of this vital issue that will lead to public support. This is very important.

Jim L. wrote:
Also, there is a great paper in the repository discussing the various pros/cons of molten salt choices - ORNL/TM-2006/12 - that is very informative. The main discussion is in regards to using salts in the AHTR but the properties/data are informative.
Thanks, Jim, for this paper link. I'm studying it this week. And your point on the fluoride of beryllium has been noted elsewhere and is a very important point. Again, Edgar Vidal, Materion, has assured that beryllium supply is ample and they are ready and eager to meet demand.

I intend to ferret out from this forum the discussion of lithium-6 depletion (lithium-7 enrichment) by chemical means. Demand for highly depleted lithium will incentivize this new industry. Several interesting techniques show good market potential.

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on May 25, 2016 12:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: May 24, 2016 8:40 am 
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@Tim,

There are about 4 threads discussing the depletion of lithium, with tons of information and links to very interesting documents - and it is one of my favorites. For a while it looked like using crown ethers was the the best chemical approach if you exclude mercury amalgams, but there was a post about a different process that looked promising. That process is titled: "Green and efficient extraction strategy to lithium isotope separation with double ionic liquids as the medium and ionic associated agent" in case you need to search for it, not sure if it was posted in this forum. Feel free to jump into the discussions on it!


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PostPosted: May 24, 2016 10:45 am 
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Jim! Thank you for the invitation to jump in to this really exciting technique. I'm still studying the ORNL salts paper from 2006 and that is very recent from the heady days, yes?

Just for now, though, is that I'm in over my head because I never really got to practice science upon graduation beyond running a mass spectrometer detector on a GC. But I want to know if it is true that Kirk's Gambit is a win. Name your company on a salt mix when the list of competitors is formidable? I'm yielding to Kirk's idea(s); 7-LiF-BeF2.

Taken a priori then (basing a global industry on Dr. Weinberg's design), and Dr. Vidal's confidence in beryllium fluoride supply, then the most environmentally benign but clever use of chemistry to achieve near 100% pure 7-lithium would be in honor of the great chemists who originally used chemical methods to learn about the heavy elements, Dr. Hahn, Dr. Seaborg. Is there a doctor in the house?

Lithium supplies are very good and this is discussed elsewhere. Let me add here, upon the successful commercial deployment of Flibe Energy LFTRs ("lift your spirits"), increasing demand for lithium could be an incentive for the peace-loving people of Afghanistan to develop their lithium resources to dis-incentivize poppy production and reduce heroin traffic? (U.S. Identifies Vast Mineral Riches in Afghanistan)

One neutron difference in mass for the first solid element? Yet molecular complexes in various liquid phases can differentiate? That's some Mr. Spock-level stuff. You gotta love it.

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PostPosted: May 24, 2016 11:41 am 
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Jim L. wrote:
"Green and efficient extraction strategy to lithium isotope separation with double ionic liquids as the medium and ionic associated agent"
Jim, I downloaded this paper named "Jingjing2013.pdf" that's not on Kirk's forum as far as I can tell but I don't remember where I got it and I didn't save the link. (Xu Jingjing, et al. SpringerLink is $39.95!)

I'm glad I got it. Should I attach my copy?

One thread, Lithium-7, is under Board index » Liquid-Halide Reactors » Reactor Materials and Fluids started by Andrew W. Mangold on Aug 31, 2007 3:23 pm, and the the last post is by E Ireland on Aug 09, 2015 6:19 pm; 14 pages up to that point for an eight-year discussion!

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PostPosted: May 25, 2016 8:18 am 
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@Tim,

For the 1 neutron difference in the lithium isotopes, the important point is that there is a relative mass difference of 14.29% - much better than U235 & U238 of 1.26% even though it is 3 neutrons difference. And, I do have that same "Jingjing2013.pdf" file - although I do not understand yet the challenges/costs for implementing on an industrial scale. Whereas for the crown ether method, as I understand it - the cost is quite high but may be due to very low demand/volumes (and may be best to have the creation of the crown ether in-house).

And we do know the mercury amalgamation method works and scales up - but a company that wishes to produce the highly depleted Li7 would/could have its factory in Mexico or points south. Or just buy it from China and/or Russia(?).

I do think there is a high incentive to be the 'first mover' in producing the highly depleted Li7 since I doubt the US market would support 2 producers, at least not for a long time. I can also see advantages of enriching the tails to get highly enriched Li6 and selling it to the fusion research people - that market will be around forever...


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PostPosted: May 25, 2016 10:14 am 
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Jim,

The percentage will be higher for lower Z, yes. It was kind of a hippie moment. Sorry. Nature is awesome. I find it easy to get lost in the amazing nature of nature. I gotta stay focused. Speaking of the enriched 6-lithium and the goals of ITER and others, look at what it takes to overcome electrostatic repulsion. But purify a little thorium, expose it to neutron flux, wait, voila! Nuclear fuel by fission. Fine as long as the operators keeps track of the fission products!

I agree with you except for the mercury amalgam process. Wasn't that process a serious problem for Oak Ridge and many others? Let's not use mercury. I'm studying this for myself because I'm past the point where I can be an effective player. I am one citizen advocating for U.S. nuclear power and doing what I can to grease the wheels of success at the "grass roots" level.

May I say, Jim, the "business case" equation depends on terms that are subject to change. Meantime, I am studying Oak Ridges's 2006 re-visiting of the results of determinations made in the 1950s from the paper you linked me to. Do they intend to spend time, money, and resources to repeat Dr. Seaborg's cyclotron experiments? Thank you.

The more I study energy from thorium, the more I discover the human element in all this. I want to study the Jingjing, et al. paper. I'm glad you have a copy. Their work was from 2013. I have more reading to do of the posts in this forum.

Thank you for being kind to me here, Jim.

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PostPosted: May 25, 2016 10:26 am 
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Jim L. wrote:
"I do think there is a high incentive to be the 'first mover' in producing the highly depleted Li7 since I doubt the US market would support [two] producers, at least not for a long time."
If Kirk's Gambit wins, your conjecture seems true on 7Li depletion being like Materion (Brush Wellman) and beryllium unless demand accelerates?

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PostPosted: May 25, 2016 11:49 am 
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Jim L. wrote:
Also, there is a great paper in the repository discussing the various pros/cons of molten salt choices - ORNL/TM-2006/12 - that is very informative. The main discussion is in regards to using salts in the AHTR but the properties/data are informative.
Agreed! Given this is the highest stakes game in human history, better confirm the results from the days of the MSBR program forty+ years ago!

ORNL/TM-2006/12 wrote:
Table C. Preliminary ranking of nuclear properties for candidate salt constituents

Candidate - Moderating ratio, Short-lived activation, Long-lived activation
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
Lithium - Good, Very good, Very good
Beryllium - Very good, Very good, Good
Fluorine - Very good, Very good, Very good
Sodium - Acceptable, Acceptable, Good
Potassium - Poor, Acceptable, Poor
Rubidium - Acceptable, Poor, Good
Zirconium - Good, Poor, Acceptable
I wonder if this 2006 confirmation of work done prior to 1970 supports Kirk's Gambit. What happened to chlorine? Oh, never mind. These considerations belong under: Board index » Liquid-Halide Reactors » Reactor Materials and Fluids. I'll organize later. Peg pardon, everyone. Advocates of nuclear energy reading here who might not be well initiated in the sciences and technologies can use some aspects of discussions elsewhere on this forum easier for the contributing techs.

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on May 25, 2016 12:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: May 25, 2016 12:25 pm 
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Jim L. wrote:
Side note: the biggest worry with beryllium is in its metallic form, especially dust from grinding or machining. However, for an MSR it will be in fluoride form and I believe the risks are lower than what people typically mean when they discuss (metallic) beryllium. And fortunately, in the manufacture of beryllium metal, the processing of the raw ore converts it into beryllium fluoride (which is relatively cheap - the high price comes from converting it from a fluoride to a metal).
Jim, I'm sure this is noted under: Board index » Liquid-Halide Reactors » Reactor Materials and Fluids (reorganize later), but let me post this here. The presentation at the TEAC by Dr. Vidal told this very interesting story. Materion (Brush Wellman) have perfected beryllium safety. Your point on its fluoride is not insignificant . . . it's HUGE! ("The Name" does not have a monopoly on that popular expression.)

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on May 30, 2016 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: May 25, 2016 2:21 pm 
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Jim L. wrote:
I can also see advantages of enriching the tails to get highly enriched Li6 and selling it to the fusion research people - that market will be around forever...
Jim, I'm learning. I believe ANY Li-6 comes under Y-12, correct? I post this here for now.

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PostPosted: May 26, 2016 8:21 am 
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I guess, as a reply before the threads moves, I'd say regarding mercury that in the 50's and 60's there was little regard concerning the handling of mercury. From what I have read, people at the time working with mercury used less caution than the way we handle oil changes or antifreeze nowadays. I think an environmentally responsible mercury amalgam colex process could be implemented but the laws and regulations in many nations just will not allow it. So instead of trying to push a rope it seems best to find another chemical process means. I am not a fan of the cyclotron schemes for industrial scale production volumes but I could of course be wrong.


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