Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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PostPosted: Sep 30, 2016 8:38 am 
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I am somewhat surprised no one posted this article in the forum:

What's the Difference Between Thorium and Uranium Nuclear Reactors?

especially since it was authored by Kirk!

IIRC, the solubility limit for plutonium fluoride (PuF3?) is around 1.3% mol, which I assume is enough to be critical. If so, it may be an excellent start-up fuel for a LFTR as it builds up U233 and eliminates the Pu - say for example the Russian Pu that was originally scheduled for the MOX fuel. Or perhaps the Japanese, http://www.powermag.com/japan-kills-monju-but-not-breeders/, would be interested in consuming their Pu stockpile while moving to a self-sustaining Th-U fuel cycle.

Both of those Pu stockpiles are largely Pu239, and would be enough to bootstrap entire fleets of LFTR reactors. But does anyone know if the Pu isotopic mix from SNF would also work? I know the conversion ratio in both cases isn't great but in this case we would not care much (right?). And if LFTR reactors can be promoted as eliminating Pu while moving away from the U-Pu fuel cycle, that should be a big win.

Jim L.


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PostPosted: Oct 01, 2016 10:42 am 
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Here's where the Plutonium is going.
Haven't heard about any impending changes in policy.
Apparently lawmakers don't read Machine Design.

https://www.facebook.com/SavannahRiverS ... 522727463/


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PostPosted: Oct 01, 2016 12:56 pm 
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You're oh-so-clever, Jaro. I hope your smugness keeps you warm on those cold Canadian nights.


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PostPosted: Oct 01, 2016 11:17 pm 
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Isn't disposing of plutonium more expensive than just storing it indefinitely?
That's why there is a hundred tonnes sitting in cans at Sellafield


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PostPosted: Oct 04, 2016 7:23 am 
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@Jim L - I started a topic in 2015 to tease out the difference between MSRs and Thorium:
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=4520


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PostPosted: Oct 04, 2016 2:26 pm 
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@ alexterrell
Yes, I am aware of the thread, not sure what that has to do with Kirk's article. Most of this forum's readership is familiar with the majority of the article; I was excited to see 1) it was in Machine Design which has many readers and 2) that it suggests using Pu239 as start up fuel until enough U233 is bred.


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PostPosted: Oct 04, 2016 4:40 pm 
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Jim L. wrote:
I am somewhat surprised no one posted this article in the forum . . .

Jim L.
Jim: Believe it or not I saw this on facebook the day it posted there, but I waited to not be the first to post on it here in Kirk's forum in case he would. (Hi, Kirk.) I looked right away. I posted his article to my facebook page. I wanted to post it here as "Congratulations to Kirk Sorensen" but I thought it's not my place. I'm glad it was you who went first.

Your article is a triumph, Kirk. The graphic is excellent:

Image

A picture is worth a thousand words. This graphic shows the dawn of the thorium energy age.

I saw on CNN that Russia has faulted the US on the 2000 agreement since our MOX processing at SRS has been delayed and now in limbo—or is doing what Secretary Moniz said to "dilute and dispose" we see on the SRS facebook page posted by Jaro. There's some 35+ tons of plutonium there and now minus 6—what amount is "pit" plutonium? Russia is using the delay in part to demand lowering of sanctions? What a mess.

What will the new US administration with the new Congress do in 2017? I wonder if Senator Graham understands the LFTR option. If no, and learns of it, would he push for SRS to host Flibe Energy to prototype the LFTR started with some of that plutonium? US nuclear bills are likely to get signed into law that will help to elevate the LFTR option in the minds of lawmakers.

Don't be surprised. More and more people are learning about the benefits of the fluid fueled MSR design. The majority believes climate change is real and a lot more nuclear power will be needed and there has to be a good way to do that. Lucky for the US Kirk Sorensen is here. (I think Jaro is a snowbird. Florida is warm during cold Canadian nights.)

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PostPosted: Oct 05, 2016 8:16 am 
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@Tim

I suspect that Sen. Graham's interest in SRS is solely in bringing jobs and federal money into his state, rather than any ideological ties to nuclear energy. But that is all right, if he (or a staffer) can see the advantages of converting the plutonium into plutonium fluoride for use in a LFTR. Which would then make Sen. Graham a proponent for having LFTRs developed so that his state could then provide the startup fuel for the LFTRs. In this way he could still provide jobs and federal money for his state. He may even go further and have this (proposed) facility also handle the spent startup fuel so that even more jobs and federal money would come to his state. And, we (the US) would meet our treaty agreement and also eliminate some Pu239 from the planet.


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PostPosted: Oct 05, 2016 8:57 am 
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Exactly, Jim! Thank you for spelling out my thinking on what would be smart for the so-called Clean Energy plan that is worthy of full bipartisan support! It's a win for everyone!

SRS sits on 310 square miles, has 12,000 employees, and a lot of nuclear experience and expertise. It's budget is $2.5 billion. Time for the government to add molten salt reactor technology readiness efforts and a couple billion—solar got $35 billion the past five years—to their budget with encouragement to cooperate with ORNL. And a DOE-wide thorium MSR program leveraging all DOE assets would be smarter. I'm disappointed in Secretary Moniz's lack of enthusiasm for Dr. Weiberg's invention. Secretary Moniz is a smart man. What have we lay enthusiasts missed? Climate change will destabilize the whole world and nuclear power is the obvious answer. I don't get it.

Kirk, I may be a naive dreamer. The American Dream is not dead. It's alive, well, and going strong. Alex Kernan and Alec Herbert are at ORNL attending the MSR Workshop this week. They are building a public outreach program and I'm copy editing their documents—for no pay! They are former military and, like me, proud Americans. Flibe Energy will become much more than a successful nuclear reactor developer. Thank you for getting your article out in Machine Design. You are a gifted communicator. Also, thanks for your work at NASA.

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Last edited by Tim Meyer on Oct 05, 2016 9:04 am, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Oct 05, 2016 9:01 am 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
Jim L. wrote:
I am somewhat surprised no one posted this article in the forum . . .

Jim L.
Jim: Believe it or not I saw this on facebook the day it posted there, but I waited to not be the first to post on it here in Kirk's forum in case he would. (Hi, Kirk.) I looked right away. I posted his article to my facebook page. I wanted to post it here as "Congratulations to Kirk Sorensen" but I thought it's not my place. I'm glad it was you who went first.

Your article is a triumph, Kirk. The graphic is excellent:

Image

A picture is worth a thousand words. This graphic shows the dawn of the thorium energy age.

I think that phase 2 could be more expeditiously conducted in existing reactors in their forty plus period. It will enable phase 3 earlier, as soon as handling of molten salt is mastered.


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PostPosted: Oct 05, 2016 10:58 am 
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Now if THOREX wasn't so insanely expensive you could just use CANDU reactors.
Although I would wonder what kind of burnup a self sustaining thorium cycle would get in a 90Zr enriched CANDU.


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PostPosted: Oct 05, 2016 11:11 am 
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@ E Ireland,

I think one point of Kirk's article is that thorium and liquid/molten salts are made for each other, and that one without the other is not that great. Using solid thorium causes several difficulties, as you alluded to, and having thorium fluoride in the molten salt makes many things easier. Also, from some of Kirk's other comments, having a uranium (and/or plutonium) *only* MSR does give some benefits but the benefits are not a step function like thorium + MSR.


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PostPosted: Oct 05, 2016 6:08 pm 
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jagdish wrote:
I think that phase 2 could be more expeditiously conducted in existing reactors in their forty plus period. It will enable phase 3 earlier, as soon as handling of molten salt is mastered.


This makes sense. It may be a while before a fissile self-sufficient molten salt reactor is ready for mass production, but ThO2 - PuO2 MOX could be used to fuel existing and near future water cooled reactors while converting plutonium into 233U. Fluorination of the spent fuel rods could then provide a startup charge for a MSR. There would be no issues with the limited solubility of PuF3 in FLiBe and the difficulty of separating PuF3 from lanthanide fission products would be avoided.


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PostPosted: Oct 06, 2016 8:42 am 
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Titanium48 wrote:
It may be a while before a fissile self-sufficient molten salt reactor is ready for mass production, but ThO2 - PuO2 MOX could be used to fuel existing and near future water cooled reactors while converting plutonium into 233U. Fluorination of the spent fuel rods could then provide a startup charge for a MSR.


I am increasingly coming more and more around to this position as well.


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PostPosted: Oct 09, 2016 7:28 pm 
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I prefer the idea of just starting up a LFTR with a partial Pu starter charge. What I am not positive about is what percentage of the starter charge the PuF3 can be.

I'm not sanguine about having to reprocess PuTh MOX fuel for U233 outside the reactor complex. I'd rather have all processing with weapons grade material be integral.

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