Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum

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 Post subject: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Dec 07, 2013 7:45 am 
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FYI, I came across the following interesting video on YouTube, "Thorium Advocate Nuclear Tour of Oak Ridge National Laboratory", an almost 2.5 hour long video about a visit earlier this year to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, featuring Kirk Sorensen and Lady Worthington:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hA8V8y52BM

It was very worthwile to watch.The video gives some insight to ORNL's history and future plans with thorium/MSRs.


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 Post subject: Re: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Dec 20, 2013 8:12 pm 
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Another news item on energy from thorium.

http://www.trust.org/item/20131220134758-fi1ox

The development of thorium nuclear power seems to have been outsourced to China.


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 Post subject: Re: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Jan 25, 2014 5:23 am 
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Great article, although they got it wrong about the Thorium connection. The Oak Ridge MSR never used Thorium. It seems like a clever strategy to have the LFTR developed by China but still retain the rights. Beats the hell out of trying to get approval in US. There are some things an autocratic regime is better equipped to do!


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 Post subject: Re: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Jan 25, 2014 6:32 am 
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The MSRE used uranium-233, which came from thorium. It was very much intended as a demonstration of the "core" of a future two-region thorium reactor. They chose a salt (LiF-BeF2) suitable for thorium breeding. Everything about the MSRE was pointing towards a thorium future. Just because it lacked a thorium blanket did not diminish from its significance as a step forward towards using thorium.


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 Post subject: Re: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Jan 25, 2014 11:53 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
The MSRE used uranium-233, which came from thorium. It was very much intended as a demonstration of the "core" of a future two-region thorium reactor. They chose a salt (LiF-BeF2) suitable for thorium breeding. Everything about the MSRE was pointing towards a thorium future. Just because it lacked a thorium blanket did not diminish from its significance as a step forward towards using thorium.


Exactly, they were already making calculations on the fuel inventory of a potential molten salt breeder reactor as early as 1959 (ORNL-2723), but of course this was the point from the start.


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 Post subject: Re: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Jan 25, 2014 7:15 pm 
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I stand corrected. You learn something every day. Didn't they also use other nuclear fuels, to demonstrate the versatility of the reactor? Where did they convert the Thorium? I'd never heard about the Thorium side of the MSRE. I thought that was all theoretical, to be implemented with the thorium blanket. Does that mean they an extraction process and a decay tank? Sorry if my questions are a bit dumb, I'm not an expert in this stuff.


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 Post subject: Re: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Jan 26, 2014 12:45 pm 
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StephenT wrote:
I stand corrected. You learn something every day. Didn't they also use other nuclear fuels, to demonstrate the versatility of the reactor? Where did they convert the Thorium? I'd never heard about the Thorium side of the MSRE. I thought that was all theoretical, to be implemented with the thorium blanket. Does that mean they an extraction process and a decay tank? Sorry if my questions are a bit dumb, I'm not an expert in this stuff.


The MSRE is the only reported reactor to have used all three nuclear fuels, U233, U235 and Pu239.

It never used any fertile other than that bit that came along with the enriched uranium.

They never thought about having to run with thorium because it wasn't a design goal - this was supposed to be a two fluid reactor and the blanket thorium is relatively easy compared to the high power density core. So a logical step was to produce a test reactor that resembled the hot core of a two fluid reactor. The major let-down was the low power density of the MSRE: that leaves us with more engineering questions than you can imagine.


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 Post subject: Re: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Jan 26, 2014 9:34 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:

The MSRE is the only reported reactor to have used all three nuclear fuels, U233, U235 and Pu239.

It never used any fertile other than that bit that came along with the enriched uranium.

They never thought about having to run with thorium because it wasn't a design goal - this was supposed to be a two fluid reactor and the blanket thorium is relatively easy compared to the high power density core. So a logical step was to produce a test reactor that resembled the hot core of a two fluid reactor. The major let-down was the low power density of the MSRE: that leaves us with more engineering questions than you can imagine.

I believe there is a legal difference between reactors below 10MW and those above so the target for MSRE was 10MW. Turns out the heat radiator was a bit less efficient than they planned so they ended up with something like 8MWth. Definitely the next step would be to scale up the power density to something exceeding our target for production reactors. This should include fuel salt delta T at the desired working range and fuel salt velocity at the desired range. I've heard some talk like we are ready to build a GW commercial reactor but I think we have to build something in the 100MW range first.


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 Post subject: Re: ORNL & Thorium
PostPosted: Jan 26, 2014 9:56 pm 
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Cyril R wrote:
They never thought about having to run with thorium because it wasn't a design goal - this was supposed to be a two fluid reactor and the blanket thorium is relatively easy compared to the high power density core. So a logical step was to produce a test reactor that resembled the hot core of a two fluid reactor. The major let-down was the low power density of the MSRE: that leaves us with more engineering questions than you can imagine.


Well, I was a bit surprised to find out the very earliest design documents for the MSRE did anticipate running with something like 1 mole% ThF4 in the fuel, so it looks like they were thinking about putting thorium in the core and then later changed their minds. It was probably a good idea. If they wanted to see how the reactor would run on enriched uranium and then to have that extracted and try U-233, neither of those goals required having any thorium in the core.


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