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PostPosted: Jun 08, 2016 8:46 am 
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Presentations for DOE-NRC Workshop on Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors - June 7-8, 2016

I attended this workshop along with Alec Herbert and found it very disappointing. Particularly on the second day, I found the understanding of the potential of liquid fuels and the thorium fuel cycle amongst the speakers to be nearly non-existent. A great deal of time was spent discussing the challenge of "qualifying" a new solid fuel form. Except the qualifier "solid" was never attached to the noun "fuel". No one thought for a moment about how liquid fuel could help transcend this challenge.

We were told that the DOE wants to build a fast-spectrum test reactor that will take 15 years to complete and license and cost $4-5 billion. We were then told it will take 15-30 years to qualify a new fuel form, particularly if it is intended for a fast reactor. We were told that thorium is a "low priority" by the DOE on several occasions because "we have so much uranium." We were told how worried DOE is about reactor shutdowns but no one described what they would do about it. We were told that the DOE wanted to double nuclear capacity by 2050 but I wanted to stand up and say, hey, the DOE doesn't decide whether reactors get built, utilities do!

This entire workshop will undoubtedly be touted by the DOE and NRC as an example of their "engagement" of the advanced reactor community. It was anything but. They talked at us, but not to us, at our own expense.

Of the presentations that were given, I would say Bill Corwin's talk on high-temperature materials was very interesting. I also enjoyed Kevan Weaver's talk about TerraPower's work on fuel qualification. I may not think much of their reactor design but I have to give them full props for a solid program of work on fuel qualification. I also liked Eric Loewen's presentation on the PRISM reactor because the quality of the presentation was excellent.

Most of the DOE presentations consisted of presenters reading the text on their slides, which were long bulleted lists full of text. A few presenters admitted that they had not prepared their own presentations. It wasn't hard to figure out from their poor presentation style. If you are just going to read your slides, folks, we'll download them and read them ourselves...


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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 1:11 pm 
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Thanks, Kirk! At least we have a copy of the presentations? I am REALLY disappointed that you and Alec were disappointed.

I am one of a growing number of informed citizens who are learning that LFTR is radical. This experience you and Alec had at this workshop teaches some valuable lessons.

People like me who have joined in your quest to get the first Flibe Energy LFTR built as soon as possible are able to interact on your forum. Unfortunately, we cannot know certain key technologies and facts about your design that must remain concealed within Flibe Energy, so we cannot know specific progress. This is exclusive.

I plan to study this whole presentation again and refer back to it. There is acknowledgement of Flibe Energy's liquid fluoride beryllium salt for reacting thorium with the Pa-233 intermediate; and DOE's present lack of R&D on thorium.

Jeff Merrifield mentioned "parallel" development. That's how your LFTR would have to go in the face of presumed solid phase and exclusive uranium fuel cycle.

Is the tone of your description discouragement? Are you optimistic? I think where there's a will, there's always a way. Not knowing any better, Kirk, something good has either already broken well for you or we supporters can't know what your inside strategy is, or things are about to break very well for your effort and that's equally cloaked.

Is Flibe in the GAIN program?

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on Jun 10, 2016 1:47 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 3:19 pm 
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From reading a dozen of these presentations, it seems like most of these folks can only grasp the concept of "salt cooled" OR "solid Th" -- the concept of "molten salt fuel" AND "ThF" hasn't breached the cranial confinement structure.

I'm reminded of just how many difficulties go away if your fuel is liquid form vs. solid. That, plus having high temperatures at low pressures, just makes the case for LFTR so compelling even before you even get into the advantages of the thorium fuel cycle.


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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 3:53 pm 
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Jim L. wrote:
From reading a dozen of these presentations, it seems like most of these folks can only grasp the concept of "salt cooled" OR "solid Th" -- the concept of "molten salt fuel" AND "ThF" hasn't breached the cranial confinement structure.


Oh I can confirm that assessment!

Thorium == thorium dioxide in an LWR
Liquid fuels == evil and bad and strange


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PostPosted: Jun 10, 2016 2:05 pm 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Jim L. wrote:
From reading a dozen of these presentations, it seems like most of these folks can only grasp the concept of "salt cooled" OR "solid Th" -- the concept of "molten salt fuel" AND "ThF" hasn't breached the cranial confinement structure.
Oh I can confirm that assessment!

Thorium == thorium dioxide in an LWR
Liquid fuels == evil and bad and strange
And? What is Flibe Energy doing about solving this problem? Has Flibe Energy become a think tank on top of a nuclear reactor developer?

In the United States of America, love it or leave it, The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 (42 U.S.C. sections) and Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations is the law of the land. If 10 CFR needs a section for fluid-fuel reactors and amendments for the thorium fuel cycle, then that is a legislative process under the U.S. Constitution. What other way in the "land of the free" do we have? If enough people and our representatives want to get this done fast, we'll do it.
The Atomic Energy Act of 1954, 42 U.S.C. §§ 2011-2021, 2022-2286i, 2296a-2297h-13, is a United States federal law that is, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, "the fundamental U.S. law on both the civilian and the military uses of nuclear materials." It covers the laws for the development, regulation, and disposal of nuclear materials and facilities in the United States.

It was an amendment to the Atomic Energy Act of 1946 and substantially refined certain aspects of the law, including increased support for the possibility of a civilian nuclear industry. Notably it made it possible for the government to allow private companies to gain technical information (Restricted Data) about nuclear energy production and the production of fissile materials, allowing for greater exchange of information with foreign nations as part of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace program, and reversed certain provisions in the 1946 law which had made it impossible to patent processes for generating nuclear energy or fissile materials.

The H.R. 9757 legislation was passed by the 83rd U.S. Congressional session and signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower on August 30, 1954.
42 U.S.C. needs to allow for thorium fuel cycle in molten salts.

I, for one U.S. science-informed concerned citizen, am sending donations to Gordon McDowell to help him make and promote his "Thorium Remix" efforts. The more people know the story, YOUR story, Mr. Kirk Sorensen, the more people will be predisposed to hounding Congress and the President to modernize 42 U.S.C. & 10 CFR for LFTR.

Gord's new "NASA - Thorium Remix 2016" was just posted May 20, 2016 on YouTube a couple weeks ago. Right now, it's at 37,816 views and growing but that viewership will have to get into the millions to matter. A marketing student approached you at one point, Kirk, and you got all excited about how we need more of that. Real live marketing campaigns cost millions.

Is one of those views a person who is also a sympathetic billionaire?

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"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


Last edited by Tim Meyer on Jun 13, 2016 10:24 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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PostPosted: Jun 11, 2016 3:49 pm 
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Kirk had an accurate overall summary I have a speaker by speaker version here, only the first day right now. I'll get the second day added shortly. I may have missed a person here or there but that would've been because they just read their slides. I also have audio of nearly the entire event, thinking to make a google drive of that to link here. You won't get much more than the summaries and slides though.

NRC-DOE Summary

As a rundown of the speakers in order and some of the points not in the slides.

DAY 1

John Kelly (DOE)- There was a 2 years study on what advanced reactors needed, finished March 2016 and should be published a week from now. The GAIN initiative already has awarded it’s two reactors to Southern and XEnergy. The fuel is the focus of the research and it was mentioned later but liquid fuel was thought about but wasn’t used due to the continuous feed. When tech advances more is when they would look at that, that’s what was said. The fuel safety is what drives the reactor safety protocols, this is somewhere I think we can show them LFTR is an answer.

Stephen Burns (NRC Chairman) - Act 52, does it allow current reactor design initiatives and innovation? DOE & NRC have separate roles that need to work together, has gotten better but needs more work. NRC needs to work on their review process to speed up the processes. With different reactor designs the regs will need to be tailored for the design and not just overall. Reactor design review is too high for a lot of new designs.

Dr. Kelly again - Exec order #13693 is the federal reduction of emission by 40% by 2025. The CPP is 80% overall by 2035. Expect licensing of new reactors by 2025. Looking at some remote citing policy ideas. Goal by 2030 is to have two non-LWR reactors that are ok to be built (doesn’t seem to help with the goals that have been set though). Working to improve innovation infrastructure, look at fuel cycle pathways to approval, efficient and reliable regulatory framework, and mixing private and public sector collaboration. Looking to cost share for companies that have similar tech, fuel, etc to make it easier to get approval.

Jennifer Uhle (NRC) - (Met with her afterwards and she is going to connect me with folks in the NEI to go over some collaboration ideas and ways to change public opinion) Says the NRC staff need to be educated on the different designs, could be a prior to submitting a design to help streamline the process. The comp modeling will probably be the largest hangup since only certain programs are approved as of now. Looking at ways to verify others as well. Looking for constructive feedback on how to remove unnecessary burdens and what they are. Looking to do non-LWR review like Canada does. Also looking at having staff do a quick check just to ballpark how a design looks for major flaws to cut time/cost. Also going to allow portions of reactor designs to be submitted to allow critical aspects to be certified for investors to gain confidence and reduce risk. From application review to permit issuance is about 3 years.

Stephen Kuczynski (Southern Co)- They want innovation but are facing challenges from the DOE-NRC. The climate argument is about air, water, and land. The biggest challenge is widespread nuclear support. For new nuclear we need a clear process review that is transparent. Some plants don’t need this long process for approval, just need to test what they have. What is the plan to let this happen? What is really needed for new nuclear? First fuel didn’t take 10 years to test. The new legislation is a sign that things are moving forward and changing.

Thomas O’Connor (DOE) - Mostly just look at his slides.

Brian Robinson (DOE) - There were 14 applications for new reactor designs across 9 types of reactors. (I think they are focusing too much on a 100% solution to be ready from the get-go and not the 80% that can be tested quickly and done).

K. Pasamehmetoglu (INL) - They created a rating system based upon the historical data that is around for reactors so far. (They seemed to leave out the MSRE, apparently it was in the slides when I asked about that). They want a workshop based on design type to create a database on what is similar to get those commonalities worked out first and advance everyone. (Good idea).

Bill Corwin (DOE) - Went on about a bunch of ASME code from his slides.

D. Miller (CNSC) - Talked about the Canadian nuclear regulatory process. They have a cheaper, less thorough design assessment to prepare for a full assessment. Making nuclear competitive isn’t their main concern, safety and collaboration are more inline.

Jane Mazza (Director of advanced nuclear policy branch) - There is some design criteria for MSRs (need to find this). Wants to have security as part of the initial design and not backfit to it.

Stephen Lynch (NRC) - Read his slides on different licensing types.

J Merrifield (NIC and Chairman of Advanced Reactor Task Force) - 2035 isn’t a good timeline, it’s too late to start building. Need annual reporting on progress. NRC needs a section for review based on reactor type to allow people to be specialized and help the process along and adopt some of the Canada style. NRC needs to reduce cost to customers and create clear criteria for reactors. The DOE and NRC need to realize that there are designs that are good to go now or much sooner than 2035. Need support that reflects the goals of the CPP.

Everick Redmond (NEI) - Thinks that by 2030s we can increase nuclear power generation. Need different regs based on reactor type. NEI has strategic plans for SMRs, NuScale could build in 2025. Otherwise more data on the forecast of nuclear and 2 plants have been approved for 80 year licenses.

Andrew Sowder (EPRI) - Uncertainty is the only certainty right now. They offer tech assessment and tool development at a fraction of the cost for people with strategic analysis and support. Right now there is no link between having an EPRI report and streamlining a process in the DOE-NRC.

Ashley Finan (NIA) - Need a staged and tech inclusive licensing process. A test bed for reactors would be good. Nuclearenergyalliacne.org has a license report outline. S. 2795 and H.R. 4979 are good to look at.

Josh Freed (Third Way) - Basically we need nuclear and renewable to team up to reach the goals that have been set.

Franklin Orr (Undersecretary for Science and Energy at DOE) - Need to double current nuclear by 2050. Support the private tech, reg, and authorization of new reactors. Need to change the marketing so that utilities will want to build new nuclear. There are loan guarantees still to help this along with the DOE. The NEI is the group that is trying to unify disciplines to see nuclear as more than just energy.

Open Panel with Q&A - We need to reconcile performance analysis with efficient reg framework, they should be hand in hand. EPRI does code development if requested. Policy is a problem but nuclear doesn’t have a lot of experience in this area, there need to be goals set to give others drive to reach them. NuScale has spent 600M in design dev, the NRC cost them 40M to do a review over 2 years over safety. Natural gas has cut electric costs, the current RPS needs to become a CPS. Nuclear is the only dispatchable clean energy option. The reactor dev needs to be accelerated. There is a SMR workshop in 2 weeks at the same location as this one. There is also a reserve of HEU to start these new designs up.

DAY 2 to follow


Learned some things and what we will need to do to move forward more effectively in the lanes that we are restricted to.

Tim - I would say that I am optimistic and not from the workshop but from talking with Kirk during and after. Flibe did not get awarded one of the two awards for from the GAIN initiative.

Jim - Echoing what Kirk said, the key thing that irked me was that continuos fuel streams are too advanced for the current programs. I fail to see how this is the big bad thing holding LFTR back in their eyes.

Tim - From what I know Flibe is doing all that it can right now to show the people who are making these assumptions about Th that it isn't what they think. It is a slow process and a tough fight. One of those things that need to be explained in the right way to each person and each of those people are different. As for the 10CFR, that is something that should be getting addressed sooner than later. I've been talking with Kirk and found an avenue to be pursued here in DC. So we will see what happens.


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PostPosted: Jun 11, 2016 7:11 pm 
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Alec Herbert wrote:
Andrew Sowder (EPRI) - Uncertainty is the only certainty right now. They offer tech assessment and tool development at a fraction of the cost for people with strategic analysis and support. Right now there is no link between having an EPRI report and streamlining a process in the DOE-NRC.

I thought the interesting part in EPRI's presentation was the prediction of a phase-out of NP in the US.
With the shutdowns of SONGS, VY, Kewaunee, and soon Clinton and Quad Cities, and possibly DCNGS as well, it looks like the phase-out is ahead of EPRI's forecast.....


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PostPosted: Jun 11, 2016 9:27 pm 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
Is the tone of your description discouragement? Are you optimistic?


Very discouraged by the workshop. I've been to a lot of things like this and I can't think of one that discouraged me as much as this one did. It was really, really bad. I'm just glad Alec was sitting next to me so I had someone to (proverbially) scream at as I listened to all the insanity.

Tim Meyer wrote:
Is Flibe in the GAIN program?


I don't know enough about the GAIN program yet to answer that question. DOE (INL) is touting GAIN as a way to "get access to all their expertise". That probably is very appealing to people doing sodium- or gas-cooled reactor work. In the MSR world, there is no expertise. I actually trek up to Oak Ridge and find the retirees from the MSRP and talk to them. That is where any expertise that remains is. There's nothing magic about working on the ORNL site that gives you special understanding of the MSR. So I don't think those touting GAIN realize that at first blush, it doesn't seem to have much to offer MSR developers. Maybe that will change, or maybe I will understand it better.


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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2016 10:35 am 
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Alec Herbert wrote:
As for the 10CFR, that is something that should be getting addressed sooner than later. I've been talking with Kirk and found an avenue to be pursued here in DC. So we will see what happens.
First, Alec, thank you immensely for your analyses and posts here on the workshop. I am glad Kirk is doing all he can. I don't care that this is a tough fight. It's the right fight and I'm not going to quit. Notice Jim's observations not only affirmed Kirk's feelings but nicely sums up the whole beauty of fluids over solids. It's the key to success.

I hope your (plural) quasi-agreement on the upgrade of 10 CFR but more probably 42 U.S.C. sections (here), the fundamental law, for thorium dissolved in molten salt (fluid fueled) is "an avenue to be pursued here in DC" in truth! The reason why we have nuclear energy today supplying 60% of nonemitting energy is 42 U.S.C. (Atomic Energy Act of 1954) & 10 CFR. "Advanced reactor" in House resolutions and Senate bills is dancing around the fundamental nuclear laws 42 U.S.C. & 10 CFR that are written for solid phase uranium ONLY; thorium for weapons was abandoned.
Alec Herbert wrote:
Ashley Finan (NIA) - S. 2795 and H.R. 4979 are good to look at.
Gladiator, Maximus wrote:
"The time for half measures and talk is over, Senator."

Upgrade of 42 U.S.C. & 10 CFR to allow liquid phase, thorium fuel cycle, and ESPECIALLY dissolved fuel, and watch what happens in the utility and nuclear industries.

I am studying my copy of Ionic Liquids in Separation Technology (Perez de los Rios et al., 2014) to focus on the so-called "green" methods to economical high-purity industrial-scale production of HD lithium--one of the Achilles' heels of LFTR.

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"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


Last edited by Tim Meyer on Jun 14, 2016 12:38 am, edited 11 times in total.

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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2016 4:57 pm 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Very discouraged by the workshop. I've been to a lot of things like this and I can't think of one that discouraged me as much as this one did. It was really, really bad. I'm just glad Alec was sitting next to me so I had someone to (proverbially) scream at as I listened to all the insanity.

Kirk, thank you for answering my questions. I share your discouragement. It's very good Alec could be with you. I wish I could've been there with you guys. One day, I wish I could meet you. Gordon's videos help. I am very happy every time someone like a Dr. Stephen Boyd et al. acknowledge your getting the ORNL documents out there. What a great thing you've accomplished!

I wish it hadn't been discouraging. I doubt you're thwarted. This idea of Dr. Wigner, Dr. Weinberg, Dr. Seaborg is a good one. I think the time to add to 42 U.S.C. and/or 10 CFR for molten salts and thorium fuel cycle in those molten salts, and especially the best salt (7LiF-BeF2), is now.

General revenues must be appropriated to pay for the efforts to get the additions and amendments to the nuclear laws. The fastest way to get the parts of that done for dissolved thorium MSR is to do a special authorization for the bid to build a prototype LFTR picking up from the MSRE/MSBR program at a federal site.

I remember my days at the Corps of Engineers Lab in Omaha. Brigadier General Witherspoon commended me for my lab automation work in 1990s. When the military needs to get something done right away, they do it. Like Lieutenant General Groves. Essayons!

Kirk Sorensen wrote:
I actually trek up to Oak Ridge and find the retirees from the MSRP and talk to them. That is where any expertise that remains is. There's nothing magic about working on the ORNL site that gives you special understanding of the MSR. So I don't think those touting GAIN realize that at first blush, it doesn't seem to have much to offer MSR developers. Maybe that will change, or maybe I will understand it better.

If the nuclear laws were amended to incorporate the MSR and dissolved thorium process information GAIN-ed (ahem!) at ORNL, the present GAIN program would be required to conform to the new regs. I wonder what the Oak Ridge retirees would think of that strategy. It's very good, Kirk, you are visting with them! GAIN is out of INL but it encompasses the whole of DOE resources--that includes Oak Ridge.

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"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


Last edited by Tim Meyer on Jun 13, 2016 9:45 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Jun 13, 2016 5:11 pm 
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jaro wrote:
I thought the interesting part in EPRI's presentation was the prediction of a phase-out of NP in the US.
With the shutdowns of SONGS, VY, Kewaunee, and soon Clinton and Quad Cities, and possibly DCNGS as well, it looks like the phase-out is ahead of EPRI's forecast . . .
Jaro, you forgot Crystal River 3 here in Florida. The containment structure is cracking and it's too expensive to repair. So an otherwise mostly good working LWR is down because of a nuclear energy design deficiency inherent to solid-fueled water-cooled that would never happen with a dissolved thorium MSR like FE LFTR.

Alec Herbert wrote:
Andrew Sowder (EPRI) - Right now there is no link between having an EPRI report and streamlining a process in the DOE-NRC.
Wow! Coming from the EPRI technology assessor for the FE LFTR, that's downright depressing--if you're not me. I'm optimistic. I think the EPRI LFTR report is great! It's a good start.

All roads lead to the fundamental nuclear laws (42 U.S.C., 10 CFR) upgrades for TMSR, for example, and aspects of other designs, seems to me what needs to happen in a HUGE way and fast! Jeff Merrifield says we can do this faster. I agree. Since CFR is constantly undergoing upgrades, and given that all the "advanced reactor" designs are all mostly accommodated under the present 10 CFR that depends on 42 U.S.C. (very clear from this second workshop) as they're all in the solid phase with different coolants, it's time to add the liquid phase (molten salts) and the dissolved thorium fuel cycle in molten salts to our nuclear laws.

THE ATOMIC ENERGY ACT OF 1954, AS AMENDED Public Law 83–703 (PDF, 543 pages). This law assumes solid phase, plutonium, and uranium-235. It recognizes "isotope 233" as source material. But the world of solid U-235 (under meltdown threat) is different than U-233 bred from thorium in the molten liquid phase--meltdown required for normal start-up! Something the authors of our law did NOT intend to accommodate. There's regulations for the decay products of uranium (radium-226) not applicable to thorium.

The Transatomic Power molten salt actinide burner is yet a wholly different animal. The LFTR is like a basic MSR by comparison.

The more I study the hold up on the LFTR, the more it seems to me clear that we need a very serious American national energy declaration:

We must migrate away from carbon energy and nuclear has that capability now. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory Molten Salt Breeder Reactor program that ended in the 1970s had the best method for domestic nuclear energy that was superior to the solid uranium-fueled light water reactor technology born of the exigencies of the Cold War and that became our present nuclear power industry. Today we institute the thorium fuel cycle begun under the Oak Ridge MSR program and hereby amend The Atomic Energy Act of the United States.

The ORNL MSBR program is not a reactor design that is merely "advanced" as our present legislative bills define. It is a substantial program that must be resurrected, resumed, and started up again; studies completed, materials, processes, optimum conditions, containment, security, and the other requirements all obtained from a good working prototype at a designated federal site for the purpose of enhancing the nuclear laws for NRC to license and monitor dissolved thorium MSRs for one, but for molten salts for actinide burners, and other advantageous fluid fueled reactor designs.

Abundant, safe, nuclear energy is best obtained from thorium dissolved in a particular molten salt (7LiF-BeF2)) using in situ chemical processing (salts with molten bismuth--a low-toxicity element, and gas processing). No other fuel in no other way holds as much promise as this kind of nuclear reactor design. Who will argue that?

Are people truly concerned about carbon burning leading to climate change? I wonder. What motivates people? Climate change is not as threatening as the Third Reich had been.

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


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PostPosted: Jun 14, 2016 6:00 am 
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Good luck getting permission to run any reactor with a cracked containment structure


Last edited by E Ireland on Jun 14, 2016 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Jun 14, 2016 11:22 am 
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Yes, E. That cracked containment structure repair totaled the plant at CR3 (Duke Energy, CR1, 2, 4, 5 are coal-fired).

But a LFTR needs containment, too, but not for pressure.

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PostPosted: Jun 14, 2016 1:57 pm 
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I'm sure I could come up with a situation that might require the containment of the LFTR to withstand substantial pressures, even if it is the failure of a steam generator leading to over-pressurisation of the intermediate loop, blowing out the primary circuit HX and dumping a mix of steam and intermediate fluid into the core.

That is likely horribly unlikely, but still, we are likely to need a pressure containment.


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PostPosted: Jun 14, 2016 2:46 pm 
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Interesting. But the LFTR PHX-IHX are molten salts mostly near atmospheric pressure and the PCS is scCO2. Steam? I'm sorry, E. I'm barely qualified to participate in nuclear reactor designs. When I studied the EPRI report on the FE LFTR, it looks like a good deal as far as nuclear power goes for what one consumer typically knows. Especially if the goal is to stop burning coal for baseload power. The LFTR has the fairly radioactive areas so it requires sophisticated containment. I believe it's doable because the MSRE worked well for almost five years for what available information I've been able to understand.

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