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PostPosted: Sep 22, 2011 11:55 pm 
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MIT wins $7.5M DoE grant to develop a new generation of advanced reactors

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MIT has been awarded $7.5 million as part of a new initiative by the Department of Energy (DoE) to support research and development on the next generation of nuclear technologies. Funded through the DoE’s Nuclear Energy University Projects (NEUP), the Integrated Research Projects (IRPs) were established to help ensure that the country maintains a leading role in nuclear energy research.

The Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the MIT Reactor Lab will work together with their partners at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) and the University of Wisconsin at Madison (UW) on the project over the next three years to develop the path forward to a test reactor and ultimately a commercial high-temperature salt-cooled reactor, also called a Fluoride-salt High-Temperature Reactor (FHR).

The FHR is a new reactor concept — about a decade old. It combines high-temperature graphite-matrix coated particle fuel developed for high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (fuel failure temperature greater than 1600°C), liquid salt developed for the molten salt reactors (boiling point greater than 1400°C), and safety systems originate from sodium fast reactors.

This new combination of existing technologies creates the possibility of a large power reactor where catastrophic accidents would not be credible. The Three Mile Island and the more recent Fukushima accident resulted from radioactive decay heat generated after the reactors were shut down that overheated and destroyed fuel. The FHR fuel and coolant combination may allow decay heat to conduct to the environment without massive fuel failure even with large-scale structural and system failures.


I wonder what is the role of ORNL and possibly UTK in this, as neither are mentioned in the news piece.


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PostPosted: Sep 23, 2011 12:07 am 
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ondrejch wrote:
MIT wins $7.5M DoE grant to develop a new generation of advanced reactors

Quote:
MIT has been awarded $7.5 million as part of a new initiative by the Department of Energy (DoE) to support research and development on the next generation of nuclear technologies. Funded through the DoE’s Nuclear Energy University Projects (NEUP), the Integrated Research Projects (IRPs) were established to help ensure that the country maintains a leading role in nuclear energy research.

The Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the MIT Reactor Lab will work together with their partners at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) and the University of Wisconsin at Madison (UW) on the project over the next three years to develop the path forward to a test reactor and ultimately a commercial high-temperature salt-cooled reactor, also called a Fluoride-salt High-Temperature Reactor (FHR).

The FHR is a new reactor concept — about a decade old. It combines high-temperature graphite-matrix coated particle fuel developed for high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (fuel failure temperature greater than 1600°C), liquid salt developed for the molten salt reactors (boiling point greater than 1400°C), and safety systems originate from sodium fast reactors.

This new combination of existing technologies creates the possibility of a large power reactor where catastrophic accidents would not be credible. The Three Mile Island and the more recent Fukushima accident resulted from radioactive decay heat generated after the reactors were shut down that overheated and destroyed fuel. The FHR fuel and coolant combination may allow decay heat to conduct to the environment without massive fuel failure even with large-scale structural and system failures.


I wonder what is the role of ORNL and possibly UTK in this, as neither are mentioned in the news piece.


"The Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering and the MIT Reactor Lab will work together with their partners at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB)......"

This is Dr. Peterson's area of research which lays much groundwork for LFTR et al.


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PostPosted: Sep 23, 2011 4:36 am 
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Yes, this work is important for us. The reactor pool, any new alloys used, the pumps, some of the hot cell tech, passive bouyancy controlled control rods, all good for us. We can steal, I mean buy this from Per, for the LFTR. So, from now on out, be very nice to Dr. Peterson. :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Sep 23, 2011 7:58 am 
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This is excellent news ! ....thanks Ondrej !


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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2011 2:10 am 
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Here is the NEUP abstract of the project:

http://web.mit.edu/nse/pdf/news/2011/ad ... stract.pdf

Quote:
High-Temperature Salt-Cooled Reactor for Power and Process Heat

PI: Charles Forsberg (Director), Lin-wen Hu Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Collaborators: Per Peterson: University of California at Berkeley, Todd Allen: University of Wisconsin at Madison

Program: Integrated Research Program
ABSTRACT

The objective of the Integrated Research Project (IRP) is to develop the path forward to a test reactor and ultimately a commercial high-temperature salt-cooled reactor (also called a Fluoride-salt High-Temperature Reactor [FHR]). This includes pre-conceptual designs of a test and commercial reactor. The high temperature capabilities (~700°C) imply an efficient reactor for converting heat into electricity using an open air-Brayton power cycle similar to that used in natural-gas fired power stations. This open cycle could eliminate the need for water to produce electricity and ease the siting of new nuclear power plants. The outlet temperatures are sufficiently high to provide heat for production of liquid fuels in refineries and biorefineries.

The FHR is a new reactor concept—about a decade old. It combines high-temperature graphite-matrix coated particle fuel developed for high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (fuel failure temperature > 1600°C), liquid salt developed for the molten salt reactors (boiling point > 1400°C), and safety systems originate from sodium fast reactors. This new combination of existing technologies creates the possibility of a large power reactor where catastrophic accidents would not be credible. The Three Mile Island and the more recent Fukushima accident resulted from radioactive decay heat generated after the reactors were shut down that overheated and destroyed fuel. The FHR fuel and coolant combination may allow decay heat to conduct to the environment without massive fuel failure even with large-scale structural and system failures.

The IRP combines the capabilities of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of California at Berkeley (UCB), and the University of Wisconsin at Madison (UW). MIT coordinates the effort and will focus on testing materials in the MIT reactor and developing a pre-conceptual design of a test reactor—the next major step. UCB will focus on thermal hydraulics and neutronics including tests using stimulants and development of a pre-conceptual design of a power station. UW will focus on testing materials for corrosion in their laboratories. The awards for MIT, UCB, and UW are respectively: $3850K, $2750K and $900K.


"Open air-Brayton power cycle similar to that used in natural-gas fired power stations" - R&D cost savings?


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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2011 3:41 am 
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I wonder if this is not a misunderstanding. Open air Brayton might be confused with air cooled but closed cycle Brayton. Then again if it is just a test reactor then efficiency isn't a big deal at all, so maybe keeping things simple with an open cycle makes sense. However there is the issue of tritium management that makes me doubt they could actually go for an open cycle.


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PostPosted: Sep 26, 2011 3:49 pm 
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Charles Forsberg did suggest an open cycle reheat air breathing Brayton at last years' FHR workshop. In a perfect world one would adapt an existing design to that purpose, but I only know of one machine in the world that has similar parameters and it's about 1.5 MW, maybe that's the right size for a small project. It all sounds pretty exciting though however they choose to do the power conversion.

Personally if the focus is on testing a new reactor design I'd do what MSRE did and side-step the heat engine to focus on the reactor design and operation, I think that's a very sound approach. (This coming from a gas turbine guy, what next!)


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PostPosted: Sep 28, 2011 5:34 am 
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Lindsay wrote:
Charles Forsberg did suggest an open cycle reheat air breathing Brayton at last years' FHR workshop. In a perfect world one would adapt an existing design to that purpose, but I only know of one machine in the world that has similar parameters and it's about 1.5 MW, maybe that's the right size for a small project. It all sounds pretty exciting though however they choose to do the power conversion.

Personally if the focus is on testing a new reactor design I'd do what MSRE did and side-step the heat engine to focus on the reactor design and operation, I think that's a very sound approach. (This coming from a gas turbine guy, what next!)


The power cycle is one of the risky things with molten salt coolants. Heat exchangers from molten salt to steam or helium are not developed. The closed helium reheat Brayton cycle is also not available.

It would be a shame if they develop a succesful test reactor but have not the funds to develop the final heat exchanger and power cycle.


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PostPosted: Sep 28, 2011 1:10 pm 
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Yes, the open air turbine approach was Charles Forsberg's presentation at the FHR workshop last year

https://www.ornl.gov/fhr/

There are lots of great presentations here. Not sure if Open Air was Charles' idea but it quickly caught on as I think most were surprised to see that as high as 40% efficiency could be obtained with 700 C salt.

I'll look forward to seeing how this turbine option looks as they dig deeper. Basically going back to the concept of the aircraft reactor in a sense.

David L.


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PostPosted: Sep 29, 2011 6:22 am 
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With the discussion on the other threads on Li7 availability, I'm wondering where the AHTR will get its high purity Li7, since 7LiF-BeF2 is the only salt choice that can get negative void coefficients in a TRISO fuelled fluoride salt cooled reactor.

What's the UCB-MIT plan for appropriating Li7?


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PostPosted: Sep 29, 2011 7:21 am 
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Yes, good thing to remind people. Molten Salt Fueled reactors have a great deal of choice on the carrier salt and can both avoid Li7 and even Be (silly in my view to worry about Beryllium's toxicity but many do). Molten Salt Cooled though (at least for thermal spectrum) are forced into using flibe.

The molten salt cooled design though is a pretty impressive reactor. If it wasn't such a close cousin and so mutually complementary in design and R&D I'd be worried about it stealing all the limelight. Although my logic there assumes a good idea/design rising to the top, we all know that is often a rare occurrence in the real world.

David LeBlanc


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PostPosted: Sep 29, 2011 10:08 am 
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Interestingly, the AHTR seems to have convinced people that their pebbles are the nuclear pressure boundary so that they can use the ASME section II and III non-nuclear materials.

That's an edge in commercialization that the AHTR has over MSRs, at least for the US. (then again, a cynic might argue that the US has no edge at all in innovative nuclear systems...).

However I've been thinking about a way around the ASME codes that we can use.


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PostPosted: Sep 29, 2011 12:00 pm 
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After seeing the difficulty in fabricating solid fuels at Sellafield, I'm more convinced than ever that solid fuel fabrication is a staggering challenge and one best avoided.


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PostPosted: Sep 29, 2011 4:59 pm 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
After seeing the difficulty in fabricating solid fuels at Sellafield, I'm more convinced than ever that solid fuel fabrication is a staggering challenge and one best avoided.


True if trying to make a closed fuel cycle. The AHTR doesn't actually suggest this. We can get started with mined uranium in AHTRs. Then use that technology to transition to uranium MSRs, and then thorium MSRs.

I know you think we can transition to LFTRs in one step. But we don't have enough U233.

Whatever way you slice it and dice it, we need a lot more mined uranium not less.


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PostPosted: Sep 29, 2011 5:25 pm 
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Not a lot of mining. If you are doing a thermal spectrum LFTR you can start it on 20% LEU, and only a 1-2 tonnes fissile. This is roughly the same as fueling a similar sized LWR for a couple of years. In fact, if you want there is enough fissile in the spent fuel in the US to fully build out a fleet of thermal LFTRs (between the plutonium and the 1% 235U remaining in the fuel). I don't expect this is the path for the early machines as we have plenty of other problems to solve but it makes a good sales pitch and might be a reasonable national strategy if it significantly changes the disposal costs.


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