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PostPosted: Dec 14, 2007 10:30 am 
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Next generation nuke could cost up to $4.3 bil to build: US DOE
Platts Commodity News, 13 December 2007

Demonstrating the commercial viability of a high-temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactor capable of producing both electricity and hydrogen could cost between $3.8 billion and $4.3 billion, according to estimates from three contract teams competing in the US Department of Energy's Next Generation Nuclear Plant project.

The project is aimed at developing an HTGR by 2021. A prototype reactor is to be sited at the Idaho National Laboratory.

The teams chosen to complete initial designs were led by Areva NP, General Atomics and Westinghouse.

While there was a range for the cost of the prototype plant, DOE said estimates by all three teams were very similar for the so-called "Nth of a kind" plant, meaning those that are built after the first few are up and running.

The estimate for a four-unit plant with a thermal power level of between 2,000 MW and 2,400 MW) was close to $4 billion, according to a DOE report on the pre-conceptual designs for the next generation plant.

DOE said the report, which has a November date, is expected to be made available soon on its web site.

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PostPosted: Dec 14, 2007 12:33 pm 
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See this discussion on the cost of wind generated electricity on the Energy Blog.

http://thefraserdomain.typepad.com/ener ... l#comments

An Op-ed in the December 9th New York Times, called also attention to the cost of off off shore wind generation in the North East. A recently cancelled "40-turbine offshore wind project proposed for three miles off Jones Beach would have produced, at full capacity, about 140 megawatts. It would have cost nearly $1 billion to build."

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/09/opini ... onopinions


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PostPosted: Dec 14, 2007 1:02 pm 
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I know I sound like a broken record on this, but it would be better to take the money intended for this high-temperature gas-cooled reactor and devote it to the liquid-fluoride thorium reactor instead. The LFTR can fulfill the hydrogen mission AND close the nuclear fuel cycle, something that the gas reactor will never be able to do. Furthermore the LFTR won't require the expensive fuel qualifications program of the gas-cooled reactor.


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 Post subject: A pioneer
PostPosted: Dec 14, 2007 1:29 pm 
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Kirk, You are a pioneer. It takes a long time for new information to get heard, and even longer for it to sink in. I must say that I regard you as one of the smartest people on the Internet, and Energy from Thorium as perhaps the most important blog on the Internet. You are getting more attention all the time. Your day is coming. Your message will be heard.


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PostPosted: Dec 14, 2007 5:19 pm 
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Quote:
I know I sound like a broken record on this, but it would be better to take the money intended for this high-temperature gas-cooled reactor and devote it to the liquid-fluoride thorium reactor instead. The LFTR can fulfill the hydrogen mission AND close the nuclear fuel cycle, something that the gas reactor will never be able to do. Furthermore the LFTR won't require the expensive fuel qualifications program of the gas-cooled reactor.


Yes, without a doubt Kirk. But how do we get there? I'm actually not for taking any money away from GTR but we should add to any LFTR project.

David


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PostPosted: Dec 14, 2007 6:06 pm 
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dwalters wrote:
Quote:
I know I sound like a broken record on this, but it would be better to take the money intended for this high-temperature gas-cooled reactor and devote it to the liquid-fluoride thorium reactor instead. The LFTR can fulfill the hydrogen mission AND close the nuclear fuel cycle, something that the gas reactor will never be able to do. Furthermore the LFTR won't require the expensive fuel qualifications program of the gas-cooled reactor.


Yes, without a doubt Kirk. But how do we get there? I'm actually not for taking any money away from GTR but we should add to any LFTR project.

David

In a world of limited resources, it'd be far better to scrap solid fuel gas cooled reactors to fund commercialization of fluid fuel fluoride and chloride reactors.


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 6:44 am 
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I think you are a little bit narrow-minded over here...

It's true that liquid fuel reactors have some advantages over the gas cooled ones, but also some disadvantages. But already the gas cooled reactors have a lot of licensing problems, so I've heard. So try to imagine the problems which there will be with liquid fuels.

Furthermore Europe, China, Japan and South Africa are also investing into high temperature reactors, which makes it a lot easier to exchange knowledge.

And in contrast to what Kirk says, it is possible to close the fuel cycle with this type of fuel. OK it is hard, but possible. Besides that, loading such a device with MA and Pu keeps the reactor stable!

And in my personal opinion is this reactor type a lot easier to export to countries with a growing energy demand and interest in nuclear. It are small, modular units. They can deliver both process heat and electricity. And they are rather proliferation resistant.


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 9:27 am 
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STG wrote:
It's true that liquid fuel reactors have some advantages over the gas cooled ones, but also some disadvantages.


Let's go ahead and list dis/advantages and then stack them up against one another. I think that such a comparison will favor the fluid-fueled reactors. But let's give it a go.

STG wrote:
And in contrast to what Kirk says, it is possible to close the fuel cycle with this type of fuel. OK it is hard, but possible...And they are rather proliferation resistant.


"Proliferation-resistant" and "practically impossible to reprocess" seem to be almost synonymous statements in the gas-reactor world. Please describe the reprocessing steps necessary to achieve a closed fuel cycle with these thermal-spectrum gas-cooled super-high-temp reactors...


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 9:46 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
"Proliferation-resistant" and "practically impossible to reprocess" seem to be almost synonymous statements in the gas-reactor world.

That's true.
But there is also the cost factor.
The fuel form for HTGRs is extremely costly - both because of the higher enrichment and the TRISO particle manufacture.
So the only way to make this pay off is with very high burn-up, meaning low-grade Pu that is unattractive for diversion to military application.
Conversely, running such reactors with short fuel burn would consume inordinately large quantities of fuel, which would be both costly and easily noticed by outside suppliers.

Of course if an HTGR is run on U233-Th fuel, then the higher the burnup the better - the U233 can always be extracted from the used fuel later, with relatively little denaturing.
I suspect that a large amount of U238 would have to be added to the fuel, to make it more proliferation resistant.

Similar arguments need to be considered in case of MSRs.

.


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 12:53 pm 
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dwalters wrote:
Yes, without a doubt Kirk. But how do we get there? I'm actually not for taking any money away from GTR but we should add to any LFTR project.


Good question, Dave, and I wish I had a better answer.

Part of the problem jumped out at me just when I read the release:

Quote:
The teams chosen to complete initial designs were led by Areva NP, General Atomics and Westinghouse.


I tried to imagine these companies attempting a fluoride reactor design evaluation and it was pretty hard. The basic problem is is that all the technologies they need are completely outside of their experience base.

No fuel fabrication, totally different fuel form, different approach to control, integrated reprocessing, totally different primary heat transfer, totally different coolant fluids, totally different power conversion system.

What does it have in common with what they do today?

Little more than the principle of fission itself.

I wonder if we are ultimately successful and thorium/fluoride reactors are widely developed. History may look back on it much as they do the debate between DC and AC power generation.

AC had tremendous flexibility, versatility, and ease in transmission, but it was hard to "grok". All those sinusoids and phasors and concepts like power factor and reactive power--who can understand all that?

Whereas DC power is much easier to understand--a river of electrons flowing through resistors and losing voltage. So it seemed like DC was the way to go, but AC was really the advantageous approach.

In a similar vein, the solid-fuel nuclear folks in the world "grok" their solid fuel, with its clad, and its linear heat transfer rate, and its centerline melt temperature, and its local burnup--so they tolerate all of its non-versatility.

But fluid fuel, with its mobility and chemical reactions, seems so odd--despite the fact that it is so versatile.

So I can almost imagine the collective groan that would go up from Areva, General Atomics and Westinghouse if the DOE were to ask them to tell them about how a fluoride reactor would make hydrogen. They would probably just say "look can we just do a gas-cooled reactor instead?"


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 2:33 pm 
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Come on, that is not true!

The only people which had a very very good experience with producing the TRISO fuel is Nukem. So all the others also had to build up knowledge and so on about the fuel production. Furthermore a gas cooled reactor is not the same as the usual LWR cooled reactor which these companies sell nowadays.

I don't know which companies have experience with fluid fuels, but the big players on the market will likewise have to build up knowledge and so on.

The biggest argument I see in favor for HTR types is that they are in a near-deployment state (building will start in 2009 in South Africa and in 2013 in China). Furthermore they are easy in operation for a starting nuclear country, and they have a rather low output. There also is the possibility for online refuelling without a high proliferation risk. And they can operate with MA and Pu, which in the final fuel form is rather difficult to divert.

This latter doesn't mean that for a rather developped nuclear country they can not be reprocessed. Because with chemical dissolution of the graphite matrix and breaking of the outer SiC shell this is possible. Although the equipment to break the shell will have a rather high wear...

Of course the liquid fuel reactors are very interesting and promising. But at the moment this is only for an academic point of view, because unfortunatly I don't know any utilities which are willing to build such a device...and in Europe it's even that bad that research on liquid fuels is rather limited...


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 2:45 pm 
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Let my add my two nuetrons here on this question.

First, in a way, we are comparing apples and oranges. The issue of deployment is very real. I'm all for deployment of the HTRs now *READY* to deploy: the The PBMR, and the HTRs in Russia and China. This is good R&D and if they can go commercial, sooner rather than later, all the better, IMHO.

But...we have to aware of some stuff. The PBMR in particular has a horrendous waste issue...more of it, actually, and the "pebbles", well, no one has come up with an effective way to reprocess the complex little buggers. This will be quite an issue. But..if the versatility of a HTR to provide process heat, load change, modular manfucturing can be established then this is all the better for future LFR, which provides the same *product* (MWt and MWe), only better, obviously.

Everyone on this forum, I'm sure, is in favor of Fluoride/Thorium over Uranium/anything. The issue is getting some lab, some manufacturer, to do the hands-on actual building of a LFR with the idea and *intent* of going commercial. We need a lobby group, so to speak, to push this, among academics, engineers and physicists and, politicians and governmental organizations involved in promoting and regulating nuclear energy.

We are like the radical-democratic Levelers of Cromwell's Puritan Revolution...we want parliamentary democracy but also economic equality, too. We see correctly the future and it's a liquid fluoride one, but we are part of a larger "fission army" that goes out to do battle with the forces of Darkness and Respiratory Death. We need to be in the front, not the rear. We need to figure out how to get there from here.

David


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 3:28 pm 
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dwalters wrote:
Everyone on this forum, I'm sure, is in favor of Fluoride/Thorium over Uranium/anything.


Good comments all around. But just to be clear, enthusiasm about fluoride reactors is not required to participate on this forum. This forum is about energy from thorium. Any discussion along or related to that theme (or even related to technologies related to that theme) is acceptable.

Dissenting opinions to the general theme are encouraged, so long as they're grounded and respectful.


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 3:46 pm 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
But fluid fuel, with its mobility and chemical reactions, seems so odd--despite the fact that it is so versatile.

Kirk, if you just flip the words around a bit, you may find that mobile fuel does not "seem so odd" anymore :
Both the PBMR and CANDU reactors have mobile fuel, and use that capability to outperform reactors with non-mobile fuel.
So one might conclude that the more PBMRs and CANDUs displace LWRs, the more people will come to appreciate the advantages of mobile fuel, and the more they will become receptive to the idea of taking the concept to the next, ultimate step, which is liquid fuel reactors....

.


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PostPosted: Dec 15, 2007 5:59 pm 
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dwalters wrote:
But...we have to aware of some stuff. The PBMR in particular has a horrendous waste issue...more of it, actually, and the "pebbles", well, no one has come up with an effective way to reprocess the complex little buggers.


Well you are right about that, a once-through cycle without carbon reprocessing would give one deposit per reactor. So it's not really sustainable. But people are working on how to recover the carbon and how to dispose of C-14, and also on how to destroy the SiC (or ZrC-layer).

And to reply to Kirk, I'm not in favor of any type of reactor. But I'm also not against any type of reactor. They all seem very attractive to me. I'm just in favor of good resource utilization, whether that is Th or U...


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