Making Safe Nuclear Power from Thorium

2 hours ago, Jonathan Galt said:

Can MSRs be profitable today?  Hard to say - in a few more years solar plus batteries will undercut fossil fuels.  Perhaps in higher latitudes with less sunlight they will make sense.

These reactors will "make sense" wherever there is a need for lots and lots of power, and also where there is a need for heat by way of piped steam.  In New York City, the rejected heat from the Consolidated Edison oil-fired power plants is fed underneath the city streets in special Steam Pipes, the heat conveyed (and sold) to various buildings including skyscrapers for heating purposes, including the domestic hot-water heating load.  All reactors are going to have similar rejected-heat outputs, and that can be profitably and efficiently harnessed via heat exchangers for both bulk and space heating.  

While the argument is advanced that solar cells and batteries can provide cheap energy, that fails upon inspection wherever there is this concentrated heavy demand load.  There is no plausible way that the demands of a large city can be fulfilled by solar panels, there is just not enough out there.  Toss in some energy-intensive factories and it becomes Herculean to deal with by solar panels.  For example, any large pulp and paper plant, corrugated box plant, aluminum smelter,  steel mill using recycled steel, or injection-molding or die-casting plant will consume vast amounts of power.  I don't see that as plausible with some solar-cell and battery combination. 

Nukes give you great power, and once you dispense with water pumps, all kinds of valves, containment domes, vast control rooms, on-site fire departments and police departments, all the "stuff" that the hysterical ladle on top of existing nukes, you end up with a cheap, concentrated power source.  What's not to like?

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21 hours ago, Jonathan Galt said:

The Thorium cycle of energy was successfully repressed (i.e. not even taught to people obtaining degrees in nuclear energy) for decades. The reason is obvious and political - if people knew that clean safe cheap nuclear power were a possibility they would have fought back against traditional nuclear reactors, the real reason for which they exist being to create nuclear fuel for weapons.  Much easier to tout LWRs as "energy of the future" to a dumb populace.  Can I prove it?  Only using Res Ipsa Loquitar.  I did train to deliver nuclear weapons, and no they didn't teach us that there but you learned to read between the lines concerning political policies if you weren't an idiot.

Can MSRs be profitable today?  Hard to say - in a few more years solar plus batteries will undercut fossil fuels.  Perhaps in higher latitudes with less sunlight they will make sense.

Solar plus batteries will NEVER be able to supply the cheap abundant energy we really need to lift most of the world's population to a decent middle class life. It is way more elitist than our current energy mix. Only massive nuclear electric baseload, with everything electrified except transport which will run on hydrocarbons (natural or synthetic) can achieve this.

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There is no energy shortage so no need for nuclear of any kind. It cannot compete with natural gas, oil, and renewables. Thorium is a pipe dream until proven otherwise. Economical clean energy is already available with the above. The entire lifespan costs of nuclear rule it out. Mankind cannot afford to have more nuclear waste spread all over the planet and try to guard it from terrorists for thousands of years. 

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Hey, I am a greenie and have been interested in thorium reactors for several years. I live in Washington State, a higher altitude. I have solar panels that produce very little power in the depth of winter to charge my electric car. Wind power distributed over large areas will help. Tidal energy might work out, but it has potential negative environmental impacts. Thorium power sounds good. 

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Why would terrorists want to take the radioactive material away? Just crack the thing open and you have a major radiation leak near a large population. You would not be allowed to bury the reactor, they will have to be inspected regularly. Israel would disagree with the statement about no terrorists trained in handling nuclear material, a few have meet a somewhat shortened ends. But if it works out great but don't expect it to be cheap, I haven't seen any projected costs of the electricity. Also same thing as many other forms of electricity it just runs at a steady rate unlike demand. 

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Excuse me for being over 6mo late, it must have been an oversight in my email. But as soon as i saw the word thorium, it's like, I've been hoping for that for years. Thorium, has said to be the safest and cheapest way to go. In Charlotte where there are a few places that use  nuclear energy, they have been asked to use Thorium. And I'm sure that's true throughout the U.S. But why that idea died had to be something political. When something doesn't make sense, one must assume that a lot of red tape is involved. Thorium is so safe, had it been used when it was introduced, it would be in our homes today.  

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Thank you @Ward Smith I was looking for that exact article to share with everyone here. It's written in 2014, but all points it made are still valid. Like @ronwagn said, if it was cheap, easy, and safe, it'd be done already.

I certainly hope someone makes the breakthrough needed for this within this decade or next. We as a species could really use the help this promising fuel contains.

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1 hour ago, Andrew Sun said:

Thank you @Ward Smith I was looking for that exact article to share with everyone here. It's written in 2014, but all points it made are still valid. Like @ronwagn said, if it was cheap, easy, and safe, it'd be done already.

I certainly hope someone makes the breakthrough needed for this within this decade or next. We as a species could really use the help this promising fuel contains.

No one can build a reactor due to red tape, as they force you to have 100% of the steps worked out first and obviously not 100% of all the steps have been documented before, so no one can make a "breakthrough".  It is that simple.  Nor can we get funding for the first reactor from the government.  There is no commercial nuclear industry and the only so called "commercial industry" does nothing other than create fuel to sell to PWR who have a MASSIVE incentive to NOT create a new reactor type.

As for the Myth file.... What he wrote is 100% true, but he left giant gaping holes where he essentially changes the reactor type on a whim depending on the myth being busted.  What is humorous is he switches to fast breeder to hide thermal breeder.  If you asked me, you need both.  Need a small fast to initially create the fuel, and thermal for sustained energy production, and can't get the damned red tape pleebs out of the way to get EITHER built.  Yes, all reactors can make nuc bomb material.  And his most pathetic myth is the lack of Thorium....  The guy a typical PHD with no real world exp.  Go to a mine, mr PHD, there is thorium being extracted, or the mine operator is just passing it through and removing it during the melt. 

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On 9/11/2018 at 12:44 PM, Jan van Eck said:

Chad, I was not suggesting that the "pit" be left as bare earth!  The "pit" can be made as a basement, with concrete, you could line it with steel plate, whatever you want.   the purpose of the Pit is to take the molten material which is held in a cube, for criticality, and spread it out into a large-surface layer, so that the fissile material is sufficiently removed from itself that it stops being of critical mass.  Once the reaction stops, it will passively get cold, by natural heat convection into the walls (floor) of the Pit. 

the point is that you don't need a cooling system for emergencies, with pumps, generators, all that other stuff that gets expensive fast and requires its own back-up systems.  All that is gone. 

There is material in there with a half-life of over nine days, so it takes a bit before it can be handled again.  I don't think your invading guerrilla army is going to be able to hold out against the US Marines for say three months while the fissile material gets cool enough to start handling, up close and personal.  

I think if your saboteurs are busy digging a hole to the Pit and bringing in a big cement truck to fill that Pit up, somebody is going to notice.  I suspect the logical result will be a shoot-out with the locals.  I would not bet my money on the saboteurs;  Americans are well known as being rather good shots.  And I just don't see that cement company becoming a willing participant, those big trucks cost money to replace.  

Yes, U233 can be processed into bomb material.  Is the U233 "poisoned" with other isotopes that contaminate that process?  Likely so. How do you isolate the material?  In your garage?  On some remote farm, in a barn?   I really think you are getting way ahead of yourself here.  You have to bring in some monster crane, you have to shut off the power (that should attract attention), hook up the big chain, use the crane to yank the core, put that on some truck, make the material non-critical, try to drive off with it - all in total secrecy, with no one noticing.  Does not strike me as realistic.  For all that work, might as well go break into a sub base and steal an ICBM, hey why not?

As to your last question, nobody knows the cost, as they are not in production.  Should be cheap enough.  Anticipate your retail electricity to start out at around 3 cents/kwhr.  Let it drift down from there.  Eventually, toss the meters, and flat-rate the power.  Cheers.

So, what is stopping the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, etc. from developing thorium reactors. Green political force is not a problem in those countries. Why have they held back? This seems like an obvious and logical question to me. 

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(edited)

2 hours ago, ronwagn said:

So, what is stopping the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, North Koreans, etc. from developing thorium reactors. Green political force is not a problem in those countries. Why have they held back? This seems like an obvious and logical question to me. 

Communist regimes are not known for imagination, nor for initiative, except when engaging in military excursions.  And as for the Iranians, I predict that they will develop and build thorium reactors.  They will likely be second; the Canadians likely to be the first. 

Edited by Jan van Eck
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18 hours ago, Jan van Eck said:

Communist regimes are not known for imagination, nor for initiative, except when engaging in military excursions.  And as for the Iranians, I predict that they will develop and build thorium reactors.  They will likely be second; the Canadians likely to be the first. 

So, are Canadians currently building one, or just thinking about it?

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8 hours ago, ronwagn said:

So, are Canadians currently building one, or just thinking about it?

My understanding is that the Canadians are hard at work developing a prototype.  I have not been following it.  Should be interesting, though. 

Do not underestimate the Iranians.  They are a very smart people. The government has been taken over by these fanatics that are the remnants of the guys that stormed the US embassy back in around 1978 and let to President Carter sending in that commando team that disintegrated in the desert, I think that was 1979.  Since then, US - Iran relations have been chilly, to put it mildly. But remember that the government fanatics definitely do not represent the population, at least half of whom were not even born when that Embassy siege was taking place, and do not represent the desire of that half for close relations with the USA. Fanatics are people that you cannot deal with; the best you can hope for is containment, a strategy that worked will with Stalin after WWII. And, contrary to popular belief, the Iranian Navy is also not fanatic, that is a professional military. Iranian society, especially intellectual Iranian society, recognizes that power density is a keystone to a modern life, and that small nuke reactors are a perfect fit for where they want to go.  The fanatics are obsessed with bombs, of course, but that is what fanatics do.  The task of the West is to outlast the lifespans of the fanatics. Might work, as long as active war does not break out first.  We shall see. 

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I am familiar with Iranian Americans and realize that half the population loves America. I would think that China would have far more ability than anyone, to develop the thorium plants. They also have the greatest need for them, since they have a horrendous air pollution problem and are spending many billions of dollars on fuel.

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