For those of you who have procrastinated buying the January 2010 issue of WIRED magazine, it looks like your waiting might have paid off:
Thanks to the Wired article, we’re getting record traffic onto the blog. If you’re new here and would like to learn more, I would really recommend watching one of the YouTube videos linked on the right-side column of the blog. “LFTR in 16 minutes” is probably one of best if you want to learn more quickly.
Also, with regards to the article, it’s important for me to mention a few things. First of all, fluoride salt is NOT highly corrosive if it’s put in the right container material. The high-nickel-alloy Hastelloy-N was proven by Oak Ridge scientists and engineers to be compatible with fluoride salt at the elevated temperatures at which LFTR would operate. Discovering Hastelloy-N and proving it would work was one of their great accomplishments.
Also, LFTR is tightly controlled–but it is predominantly self-controlled. This is the best kind of control of all. Like putting a marble in a bowl and knowing it will always roll down to the middle, the LFTR controls the nuclear reaction naturally and without operator intervention. If the reactor starts to overheat, the salt expands, there’s less fuel in the core to sustain the reaction and the reaction naturally slows down. If the reactor gets too cool, the salt contracts, there’s more fuel in the core, and the reaction speeds up. If heat removal is lost, the reactor naturally shuts down, and if no intervention is made, it melts through a salt plug at the bottom of the reactor vessel and drains into a passively-cooled tank. The reactor is literally walk-away safe. That is one of the truly magic things about using a fluid fuel–you can achieve a level of safety that is truly amazing.