UK manufacture of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors. Cheapest, greenest way to meet carbon targets.
Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors (LFTRs) are hundreds of times safer than the Pressurised Water Reactors (PWRs) planned for the UK's new-build. LFTRs operate at atmospheric pressure; PWRs operate at 155 times that and have this huge pressure 'driver' to expel radioactivity into the environment. LFTRs are half the price of PWRs and require only one-thousandth of the ore to be mined for the same energy output and thorium will be available for hundreds of thousands of years. High quality waste heat can be used for district heating or desalinating water. If only used for process heat, hydrogen can be made, to produce carbon-neutral fuels for transport and ammonia as feedstock for nitrate fertilisers. Several UK companies can produce this (glorified) atmospheric-pressure, hot-salt chemical plant. Prototype in 5 years - production line manufacture at 1 per day in 10 years - all coal fired power stations replaced in 2 years. Wordwide market for tens of thousands of these modular units. UK manufacturing jobs, growth and prosperity not seen in 3 generations. At least half of the money Government plans to spend on inconsequential renewables will be saved, to spend elsewhere. Make the UK Government spend our taxes in this most cost-effective way.
Jasper Tomlinson commented
I was quite surprised to see this pop up among my incoming mail. If this generates a revival of interest it is welcome.
I am reluctant to address, in detail, issues raised by anyone signing off as 'anonymous'. Generically these particular issues were all very relevant 3 or 4 years ago. Events have moved us on. To get a bit more up to date, why not look at our 'MSR Review Report' released in July 2015 (downloads at www.energyprocessdevelopments.com )? it was the outcome of a year long study funded by Innovate UK.
For further information contact me (see back page of Study Report for email address) and I will try to send up to date information which could include a link to a video of a 7th October IMechE meeting in London that I arranged in order to set out the current range of available advanced nuclear fission reactor technology. Jasper Tomlinson
Any fission process, whether conventional solid fuel reactors (e.g. MOX via P239 route) or Thorium LFTR (e.g. Th232 via U233 to lower atomic number byproducts) will be dangerous. An operating Thorium LFTR will need a lot of radiation shielding, and any failure will be difficult to fix in operation due to high Gamma flux. This is practical reality. However, Thorium LFTR has the big advantage, potentially, as an actinide burner, to dispose of existing high-level nuclear waste in a safe manner, thereby avoiding costly longterm storage of high-level nuclear waste. Liquid fuel reactor is highly desirable for a breeder reactor because liquid mixing avoids radiation hot-spots, and movement of the liquid fuel enables hot-spots to be dissipated, something that is not possible in solid fuel reactors. Most attempts so far with solid-fuel breeder reactors have been problematic, because operational control is otherwise so difficult.
Although fission generation of power is one of the most dangerous and environmentally dirtiest industrial processes devised by mankind, there is an issue in the longer term of how to provide human civilization with large amounts of usable energy, with burgeoning population growth and depletion of fossil fuel reserves, energy-per-capita will soon fall dramatically, potentially plunging the World into a major permanent recession. Any amount of monetary quantitative easing (QE) will not address this issue.
Fundamental problem with Thorium LFTR is container enbrittlement due to high neutron flux irradiation and corrosion. New materials are required (e.g. Silicon Carbide composites), else it is necessary to swap reactor containment vessels fairly regularly; a solution is to have pairs of containment vessels mounted spatially adjacent so melt can be transferred from one containment vessel (on the fly) to the other containment vessel, and then dispose of the empty containment vessel, and mount a replacement containment vessel in its place; swapping back and forth between containment vessels is a viable approach. Containment needs to be modular (to reduce cost of manufacture) and arranged to accommodate containment wall material expansion and stresses during high neutron irradiation, mutatis mutandis separator between central core and blanket regions . All these issues can be technically resolved with existing known materials, if there is a will at senior political level to engage Thorium LFTR seriously.
Apologies for short notes above, but those familiar with Thorium LFTR design will fully appreciate the points that I am making.
Thx for reading above.
For the UK, LFTRs are 30,40,50 years away. PRISM technology is here and now! The UK could lead the world. Vote for this:
Ian Kennett commented
The Thorium Reactor technology is exciting but, sadly, a long way off. Many countries are doing experimental work at present but, from my 'research' India is the present leader in the field. There are several different design ideas at the moment bu they intend building a 250Mwe reactor system but do not expect to start this until nearer 2020. A reactor of this size would only be useful in fairly small electricity systems and further development work would be needed to get up to the 1000MWe size suitable for large systems like the UK. An exciting prospect, but sadly one for the future.
Tony Butler is mistaken about the reality of Anthropogenic Global Warming. Most of us know that the Earth receives in an hour as much solar energy as human industrial activity required in the year 2002. What many of the solar "renewables" advocates, and all of the deniers do not know, is that the Earth has to get rid of the same amount of energy, or it will get warmer. In the infra-red spectrum, carbon dioxide alters the "colour" of the atmosphere, making it more difficult to lose heat by emitting the lower energy photons that come from merely warm surfaces.
If we have used up only one percent of the fossil carbon laid down in the 64 million year Carboniferous Era, then in two or three centuries, human industry has released back into the atmosphere as much carbon as photosynthesis and tectonic catastrophes sequestered in 640,000 years!
For anyone interested, there's an excellent Youtube video that gives an overview of the LFTR in 5 minutes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uK367T7h6ZY
The page also has a link to a government e-Petition on the topic, too. Well worth a look (and a signature!)
Reactor 4 in Fukushima has circa 160 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel rods, containing significant quantities of Plutonium (derived from MOX fuel). It takes circa 5 kg of Plutonium to make a nuclear bomb. Plutonium is biologically one of the most toxic elements. Whether one is an advocate of civil nuclear power or not, an issue arises how to dispose of the vast amounts of highly dangerous nuclear waste generated by conventional nuclear reactors. Short of deep geological formations which are stable for more than 100000 years or ejecting material into space, this dangerous nuclear waste will be a terrible burden to future human generations. Thorium LFTR provides potentially an appraoch to transmute this dangerous waste into less harmful materials which require only circa 300 years storage before normal handling can be resumed. The arguments commercially are so compelling for Thorium LFTR that it would be worth pursuing even it were merely capable of providing a functionality of dangerous nuclear waste disposal. In practice, a Thorium LFTR can be configured both for waste disposal and civil power generation.
Merely on waste disposal grounds, the commercial business case for Thorium LFTR is extremely compelling.
The fuel pool at Reactor 4 Fukushima is merely "the tip of the iceberg". There are vastly greater stockpiles of spent nuclear fuel rods in the USA associated with US nuclear facilities. We desperately need this Throium LFTR technology, else we are leaving one huge nuclear waste disposal task to our future generations (in an event that presently-tilting Reactor 4 Fukushima building collapses, the fuel rods in the storage pool become thereby exposed to atmosphere and then their Zirconia cladding starts burning - remember 160 tonnes of spent fuel rod - if this burning material and its associated pellets starts ending up in the jet stream as finely dispersed particles, then there will probably not be any future human generations ! This is the seriousness of the situation now facing us.
Also worth noting that there are some other similar campaign suggestions:
Worth being aware of - divided votes make the overall Thorium campaign less likely to succeed!
Dr S Caldwell commented
It's about time there was a rational debate about nuclear power, to replace the media-driven hysteria.
FYI, Baroness Worthington of the Weinberg Foundation for Thorium Power wrote about the need for developing Thorium nuclear technology in the Guardian recently:
J th C - your so right about the capability of configuring a LFTR to 'burn' our 'waste' stockpile, including the left-over cold war Pu239 bomb material. The problem and expense of long term 'waste' storage dissapears and we make money out of the stuff instead.
See if you can get your local MP to join the APPG.
As I understand, in addition to the huge safety and cost benefits that can be realised with functional LFTR technology, the reactors could be adapted quite easily to burn what we now consider nuclear waste - thanks to Sellafield being a major international nuclear fuel reprocessing centre, the UK has a world-record-breaking quantity of waste that could fuel next-generation reactors like these, rather than requiring billions of pounds to bury in geological disposal.
India is actively working towards devices like these. So are a consortium of Australians and Czechs. So is China. Russia is working on similar technologies. These things are going to be built: the question is whether we want the UK to grow its economy by making these things domestically, it add it to our growing list of essential (and expensive) imports.
Supporting R&D into better nuclear technology is a no-brainer - unless you're a politician, it seems.
I have supported the LFTR for several years. I am an American but I hope the UK will build them. With the corruption in the US political system I am not sure it will happen here. China will build them but I trust the UK more. The Alvin Weinberg Foundation and others may might make it happen. I am cheering for the APPG to go well. I hope so.
Please contact your local MP and try to persuade them to join the APPG on Thorium Energy. Email and snail-mail details available here: http://www.parliament.uk/mps-lords-and-offices/mps/#H
Jasper Tomlinson commented
I have been alerted to this 10 minute film:
Please try to watch it.
If you are spreading the word about Molten Salt Reactors, this film is a brilliant starting point for discussion.
Jasper Tomlinson CEnv
Tony Butler commented
You are right, we need to publicise this, though it seems our entire energy policy is designed to cripple the economy, deliberately, on orders from the UN's One World Government
Calvin Malham commented
This is so worth 3 votes...it's one of the best kept secrets that if we as a species went down the 'thorium' route to produce energy many years ago, most if not all of the threats both environmental and confrontational would possibly have never happened. Wouldn't mind a thorium reactor in my street, and I have been a member of Friends of the Earth for many years. Pass it on! Do a bit of reading on it too, and see what conclusions you come to.
Paul Gubbings commented
Why has this stalled? The UK is embarking on one of the most ambitious programmes for a new generation of nuclear power stations, with plans for up to 12 new reactors by 2025. We need to lobby our narrow minded, backward thinking, pee brained politicians. We must take control and set the agenda. We are a small island with one of the highest concentration of nuclear power stations in the word. With the devastating events at Long Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima in Japan we must make sure that disasters like these cannot happen here. Any expansion of our nuclear power must be with safety, utmost in mind and not driven by opportunism, self-interest or corporate greed.
They're imposing taxes right now; we're paying through the nose for renewables on everyone of our fuel bills and Chtis Huhne has committed £110 billion to meeting our carbon targets. Change the rhetoric from CO2 to all gaseous atmospheric pollutants and particulates and LFTRs come into their own. Sounds easy, but it's the voter-driven minds of politicians that have to change, not simple wording.
PS: How about a vote for LFTRs?
Tony Butler commented
Carbon Targets are fraud and should be ignored. The greenhouse gas theory has been scientifically trashed. (It defies the proven theory of Thermodynamics and no evidence of human influence on climate exists.)
However, that apart, we have a surplus of Thorium in Britain, and we should be leading the world in Thorium Reactor design.
The problem is, neither the Government, nor the UN can impose taxes on clean air.