Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Jun 03, 2016 6:29 pm 
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I assume you will come up against a PWR inertia, and a lot of criticism around lack of experience etc... so, thinking like a nuclear regular/civil servant.....:

PWRs have been running smoothly for decades, and companies like Westinghouse know everything, and still think PWRs are the best thing since sliced bread.

And the MSR companies have no knowledge of actually building structures that will last 60 years, and have no knowledge to even build a PSA and calculate a core damage frequency. Some of them know about ship building or rocket design, but that isn't the same as a nuclear plant.

Meanwhile, I've read about MSRs on the Gen IV forum, and that makes it pretty clear that they something for 2035. So if you come and tell me 2022 and $300/KW, then there goes your credibility. Even if you're correct.

And maybe I've heard of Weinberg, and therefore the "insurmountable" issue of material performance under neutron and salt attack, and the hassles of using graphite. These two issues means it's impossible to make a reactor that can last sixty years.

And please be realistic about accreditation. Just because you think your reactor is inherently safe, that doesn't mean you can skip a design accreditation. You still have to undergo the pain of accreditation to prove it's safe. And you need to prove its safe to people who have no idea about molten salt reactors, and a check-board asking how strong is your fuel cladding. That will be painful and expensive. It's tough even for NuScale, and they just have a mini pressure cooker.

Oh, and even if you could build a reactor by 2025, that means real revenue in 2030. How will you finance that?#

And finally Alec, best of luck.


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PostPosted: Jun 06, 2016 11:49 am 
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In order here:
Tim -
H.R. 3643 is still the same under the 114th congress. It has 32 co-sponsors and is rather bipartisan. Link is here: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-con ... phaByParty
Kirk has made a good bit of progress, more and more people are aware of LFTR. I've run into some at Tech and they immediately knew what I was talking about. There are also some military friends of mine that are also aware. Much better than when I first started learning about it. Right now there is just a lot of push back against change, change is scary and unknown. People don't like the unknown and are hesitant to accept it unless they are shown that it is absolutely necessary. This is where being a salesperson and approaching this topic from multiple angles comes in. Synthetic fuels is an example of this.
H.R. 2028 should be back at the House to get re-approved since the Senate added some amendments to it prior to their approval.

Alex- Thank you for joining the conversation, I hope more people do as well. The devil's advocate is always a good role to play against, I just try to keep it from getting too far into the weeds for the sake of time and practicality. With that said...
PWRs have been running for decades and have been showing the world that even an inefficient version of nuclear power is still a better option for energy production and carbon free energy. Since new nuclear has improved efficiency in terms of fuel burn-up they have reduced costs purely from less fuel used less often. This translates to cheaper energy that is more among the order of natural gas today. Not quite there but step in the right direction. Rolling with the sliced bread analogy for a minute. If the current nuclear fleet is sliced bread then the future fleet is the packaging that made it possible to supply everyone with sliced bread.
MSR is a new technology and it will have growing pains but everything that has been done with nuclear has been done from paper. The first reactor was created and then maintained using real time physical calculations. This is no different from that except we have computing systems that have verified the calculations and created simulations to check our work.
The idea of 2035 is the backstop or the no later than point. In order to get the final policy approvals and essentially have the energy markets start to rise is price by that time from plant closures and fuel being used. It goes to an earlier statement that unless people have a reason to change it won't happen. Higher costs and less fuel is part of the equation to have things done by 2035. So the 2022 forecast is if people/policy realized the importance of what we are talking about and the value that it brings to the table. At that point we cut out part of the equation that takes us to 2035. I see no loss in credibility from being able to convince people that something is good and will benefit them prior to it becoming a necessity.
The material science is actually quite impressive and has come a long way. I have a friend who is working with a lab doing further research on this and has funding to continue their work. Very interesting and promising work. With that said there are ways to plan for the unexpected, create a second flow system so that if one doesn't last the whole 60 or only lasts 60 then flip a switch and use the unused one. Or Create it thick enough to not worry about it. There are options that have been explored. Graphite can also be created in ways that were unavailable before, certain shapes, from nano tubes, etc. So far each plant has needed to have pieces replaced or repaired every so many years based on design. This is just one of those things that we can schedule and not have an issue from.
As for accreditation, we won't skip anything. But that doesn't mean that there are ways to facilitate the testing to prevent years of lobbying for a policy change that will not be needed because something doesn't work or better yet, or something that works and is tested but needs to be allowed outside of a testing facility. This is essentially that the DOE is trying to do with their test facility (H.R. 4084).
If I were able to show the LFTR is a viable energy, bio-fuel, water desalination, medical isotope producing, and carbon free option. I don't see any lack of people willing to finance that for a few years. Government loans, subsidies (something that is being talked about right now for nuclear since they haven't had any and are a clean power source), private sector energy companies, there are a slew of options to have this be financed and in a way that makes sense.

Did that address all of your points? If not or if you have a rebuttal please share so I can be more well versed when dealing with people up here.

Thank you, I hope to see a change for the better sooner rather than later.


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PostPosted: Jun 06, 2016 6:19 pm 
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Thank you, Alec, for clarifying and the progress report, and the great work you're doing. I'm eager to find out how the non-LWR workshops go tomorrow and Wednesday, and your report on the 9th. Glad Kirk's efforts are working.
Alec Herbert wrote:
Right now there is just a lot of push back against change, change is scary and unknown. People don't like the unknown and are hesitant to accept it unless they are shown that it is absolutely necessary.
I'm sure there's more than fear of the unknown. One push comes from the developer working toward a preferred design. There's a lot of balls in the air at this time. Will some form of H.R. 4979/S. 2795 get enacted and funded this year?

One crucial aspect of approval for the FE LFTR will be a green and commercially viable process for highly-depleted lithium (HD Li, 99.995% 7Li). I'm studying the ionic liquids methods that seem promising, e.g. Green and efficient extraction strategy to lithium isotope separation with double ionic liquids as the medium and ionic associated agent.

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PostPosted: Jun 11, 2016 3:53 pm 
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Posted a synopsis of day 1 of the workshop in the other thread that Kirk started. I'll get day 2 and what Dr. Pierpoint and I discussed added shortly.

As for the bill getting funded... they most likely won't this year since they have only been introduced right now. So there will be bickering over points, people trying to add their own personal things, and then more arguing prior to everyone being mostly happy with it.


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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2016 10:58 am 
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Again, Alec, your work is vital. A continuous flow of gratitude to you.

I've processed your posts at:

DOE/NRC Workshop on Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors

P.S. Alec, in my partially-initiated naive zeal for the thorium energy option in MSRs, the more I learn, the more I become disillusioned.

Kirk has never mentioned me by name here and has never posted my welcome here. So, maybe I'm persona non grata.

Sorry to crash your great forum, Kirk, with my ignorance. I'm still going to work grassroots to convince anti-Ns that your ideas are not to be feared and rather embraced.

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