Molten salt reactors are nuclear's future, but there's still a lot we don't know. Copenhagen Atomics believes that thorium reactors could be produced on an assembly line. The fuel salt contains a soup of dozens of fission product elements. Do Gen IV reactors have the same bullet point compared to conventional reactors? It comes from a plentiful supply. Directed by Myriam Tonelotto. Reactor core pressure can be low and the temperature much higher. The benefit of a thorium reactor is that just one ton of this element can produce as much energy as an estimated 200 tons of uranium. India, for example, forecasts that they could produce up to 30% of their projected power needs with the implementation of thorium reactor technologies by 2050. These levels would be illegal in most modern regulatory regimes for power plants. All novel reactor types require this kind of regulatory work, because NRC regs assume LWRs. Using … A thorium reactor is a form of nuclear energy, proposed for use as a molten salt reactor. Press J to jump to the feed. That's hardly surprising, as for 70 years, it has been inexplicably kept under wraps by the nuclear industry, despite the fact it could revolutionise energy production. One of the unique benefits of a thorium reactor is that it can be mixed with current nuclear wastes that are produced. Current estimates for nuclear storage are up to 100,000 years of maintenance. The Company is developing their “Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor” (WAMSR) which is a 520 MW molten salt reactor which uses the waste from traditional reactors as a fuel source. check it www.thorconpower.com. Some estimate that the threat of hazardous waste from a thorium reactor will be 1,000 times less than comparable uranium-based technologies that are currently in use. Yes, in various flavors of solution. Although thorium reactors would create up to two orders of magnitude less in nuclear waste, not every reactor can produce as much fissile material as it consumes while generating energy. Storage costs for spent fuel would be reduced. Seaborg is the largest reactor design start-up in Europe and they are making an ultra-compact molten salt reactor (CMSR). It was first discovered in 1829 by Morten Thrane Esmark, an amateur mineralogist from Norway. "Two fluid" MSR designs are unable to use graphite piping because graphite changes size when it is bombarded with neutrons, and graphite pipes would crack and leak. The coolant can flow over solid fuel like other reactors or fissile materials can be dissolved directly into the primary coolant so that the fission directly heats the salt. Molten salt reactors are a class of nuclear fission reactors which use a molten salt mixture as the primary reactor coolant and/or the fuel. Again, same question. 3. Seaborg cannot meltdown and can use spent fuel. In 2004, the proposed cost for a new prototype system in the United States were listed as being “less than $1 billion” with operational costs of about $100 million per year. This includes the molten salt reactor designs that are available. This is what Thorcon is doing. Thorium is weakly radioactive, has a high melting point, and is available with more abundance than uranium as an element. Molten salt reactors (MSRs) are a Generation IV nuclear reactor that use molten salts (high temperature liquid salts) as their nuclear fuel in place of the conventional solid fuels used in the world's current reactors. A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a type of nuclear reactor that uses liquid fuel instead of the solid fuel rods used in conventional nuclear reactors. It can be moved around with a pump and passively drained. Alloys based on nickel and iron are prone to embrittlement under high neutron flux. Emission of gamma rays: Presence of Uranium-232 in irradiated thorium or thorium based fuels in large amounts is one of the major disadvantages of thorium nuclear power reactors. Thorium ore is generally found in higher concentrations when compared to uranium ore in its respective natural states. No country in the world today has an approval agency that is ready to approve the current designs that are available for a thorium reactor. ", These disadvantages has been solved by ThorCon. There is minimal pollution, despite the slightly radioactive nature of the element and its unstable nature. This material produces high levels of dangerous gamma rays, even if certain nuclear threats are eliminated. In a fuel salt reactor, just one drop of fuel salt leaking from a valve or pump seal, will be so radioactive, that you won't be able to send workers within 50 feet of the valve, even if you drain and flush the whole reactor first. This itself is not a radical departure when the fuel is solid and fixed. 6. For example, Reactive IVS, a company in Denmark, is developing a molten salt waste-burner (MSW) that is designed to use nuclear waste from conventional nuclear reactors as a fuel. The Company is developing their “Waste-Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor” (WAMSR) which is a 520 MW molten salt reactor which uses the waste from traditional reactors as a fuel source. Typically in thermal neutron reactors the blanket region contains Th-232 while the core region operates using U-233. There is growing awareness that nuclear energy is needed to complement intermittent energy sources and to avoid pollution from fossil fuels. Required onsite chemical plant to manage core mixture and remove fission products. 8. It eliminates the safety concerns of traditional nuclear power. That reduces the risks of steam-based incidents. Thorium is believed to have at least 3 times more availability than uranium. A thermal neutron molten salt reactor typically uses a LiF - UF3 - XF fuel salt mixture. Some reactor designs required the addition of new fissile materials, such as plutonium, to maintain production levels. That reduces many of the benefits that a thorium reactor is able to deliver once it becomes operational. With increased resource access, poverty could be reduced, security threats could be reduced, and there would be a greater chance for peace. The start-up process could be lengthy and costly. Cores can be swappable. The liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR; often pronounced lifter) is a type of molten salt reactor.LFTRs use the thorium fuel cycle with a fluoride-based, molten, liquid salt for fuel.In a typical design, the liquid is pumped between a critical core and an external heat exchanger where the heat is transferred to a nonradioactive secondary salt. Although a standard thorium reactor is fueled uranium-233 isotope, there is no need for uranium enrichment with this technology. 1. 50MW SMRs, and even 1.5MW compact fast reactors, may become the breakthrough technologies. Little development compared to most Gen IV designs. Molten salt reactors use fuel dissolved in a molten fluoride or chloride salt which functions as both the reactor's fuel and its coolant. ThorCon just uses thickened stainless steel, and swaps out the core. 6. A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a type of nuclear reactor that uses liquid fuel instead of the solid fuel rods used in conventional nuclear reactors. For example, Reactive IVS, a company in Denmark, is developing a molten salt waste-burner (MSW) that is designed to use nuclear waste from conventional nuclear reactors as a fuel. We break them down by topic here. Thorium could even be created through the incineration of weapons-grade plutonium that is currently installed on warheads globally, which would further reduce the threat of a nuclear Armageddon from occurring. Thorium reactors are the latest big thing in nuclear spin. A new breakthrough could help engineers crack the next phase of nuclear energy. Molten Salt Reactors is a comprehensive reference on the status of molten salt reactor (MSR) research and thorium fuel utilization. Thorium reactors have a unique ability to self-regulate their temperature levels. For reference, their address of corrosion / embrittlement is, essentially, "We'll just use stainless; corrosion occurs slowly enough we can just make the core thicker and replaceable. Yet, when thorium is compared to coal-fired power plants, the difference is much greater. 7. 7. The can encapsulates the reactor, called the “pot,” which contains molten fuel salt—a homogeneous mixture of sodium, beryllium, and thorium fluorides with low … Therefore, China is developing the capability to use the “forgotten fuel” thorium, which could begin a new era of nuclear power. In molten salt breeder reactor designs different salt mixtures are used in the core and blanket regions which are separated by a neutron transparent pressure barrier, such as described by LeBlanc. 10. 4. Thorium reactors have a higher cost of fuel fabrication compared to traditional nuclear technologies. 5. ThorCon is a molten salt fission reactor. Stable Salt Reactors would be safer than conventional plants, the company argues, because they ditch uranium fuel rods in favor of a type of molten salt … There are various solutions to the "plumbing problem" - mostly using one or more flavor of pseudotubing using loosely interlocking plates of graphite. In the U.S., there is an estimated supply of thorium that could meet current energy needs for the next 1,000 years. If the negatives of this technology can be appropriately managed, this type of reactor could be the future of power on planet Earth. It is a highly efficient technology compared to fossil-fuel power generation. Conventional nuclear reactors have solid fuel rods that need constant … Although thorium reactors have a high initial start-up cost, those costs can be reduced with proper manufacturing techniques. At the same time, thorium reactors operate at standard atmospheric pressures, eliminating the need to have pressurized water. Molten metal is opaque. The primary advantage of a thorium reactor is that it is extremely friendly to the environment. Noel Wauchope says: don't believe the hype.. Thorium reactors are the latest flavour in nuclear power hype. Molten salt reactors are a class of nuclear fission reactors which use a molten salt mixture as the primary reactor coolant and/or the fuel. As for the primary disadvantage of a thorium reactor, the toxic and radioactive elements must be properly handled to create the zero-pollution footprint. Unlike all current nuclear reactors, the fuel is in liquid form. ThorCon is a molten salt fission reactor. In thermal reactors, which comprise the bulk of the world’s nuclear power fleet, the fission neutrons are slowed down to low (thermal) energies by collisions with light atoms within the reactor—hydrogen in the water in water-cooled reactors, deuterium in heavy water in h… But extending the concept to dissolving the fissile and fertile fuel in the salt certainly represents a leap in lateral thinking relative to nearly every reactor … However, one of the issues with lithium is conversion of Li-6 into tritium. Not every thorium design is self-sustaining. Same question: does the IFR have that bullet point? A subreddit decitated to thorium as a future energy resource, and the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. Molten Salt Reactors (MSRs) are nuclear reactors that use a fluid fuel in the form of very hot fluoride or chloride salt rather than the solid fuel used in most reactors. Pit mining is possible with thorium, which eliminates the threat of high radon levels that can sometimes be found in uranium mines. On larger scales, a consortium of countries including Japan, the U.S., and Russia is working on the Fuji MSR, which will be a 100 to 200 MW reactor upon completion. Required regulatory changes to deal with radically different design features. Does anyone know if any of these issues have been addressed? No need for onsite chemical processing. It costs more. Although a standard thorium reactor is fueled uranium-233 isotope, there is no need for uranium ... 2. That would provide the world with enough fuel to power reactors with this element for several centuries. Research into thorium energy is politically restricted. In the United States, thorium research has been on the back burner for more than 30 years. That means mining is more efficient and would be potentially safer and less costly. There is no risk of having zero payoff occur like a thorium reactor creates. It eliminates the threat of nuclear weapons. For example, the MSRE was designed so that its graphite moderator sticks had very low tolerances, so neutron damage could change their size without damage. The MSRE and aircraft nuclear reactors used enrichment levels so high that they approach the levels of nuclear weapons. This 500 MW fission power plant is encapsulated in a hull, built in a shipyard, towed to a shallow … It is fueled by the uranium-233 isotope that is taken from the element thorium. An MSR doesn't need to be a breeder. To put that into perspective, coal currently creates about 40% of the electrical power produced in the U.S. and about 60% of the electrical power produced in China. As Yurman says, nuclear’s fortunes are a … The technology is promising in terms of safety and economy and has the potential to avoid the release of long-lived radioactive waste in the case of severe accidents. [6] They operate at higher temperatures, which lead to increased efficiencies in generating electricity. [6] MARTIN: Yes, so the molten salt reactor experiment ran from about '59 until 1973, when it was canceled, and the director of Oak Ridge, Alvin Weinberg, who … 1. There is no current infrastructure to support thorium use. The potential of a thorium reactor is this: it could provide enough clean energy for every person, community, and nation on our planet. Molten salt reactors are nuclear's future, but there's still a lot we don't know. On larger scales, a consortium of countries including Japan, the U.S., and Russia is working on the Fuji MSR, which will be a 100 to 200 MW reactor upon completion. List of the Pros of a Thorium Reactor. 2. A new Beginning For China, clean energy development and implementation is a test for the state’s ability. The use of fluids allows for it to act both as their fuel (producing the heat) and coolant (transferring the heat).. Although thorium research has occurred in Germany, Denmark, the U.S., and other locations, only India and China are actively pursuing this technology with an intent to utilize it in the near future. It comes from a plentiful supply. It eliminates the threat of nuclear waste. Neutron damage to solid moderator materials can limit the core lifetime of an MSR that makes moderately fast neutrons. Why not encase the nickel-based allow in steel to add strength? The fissile materials created by a thorium reactor provide different dangers. It is a technology that can be mass-produced. MSRs are often planned as breeding reactors with a closed fuel cycle—as opposed to the once-through fuel currently used in U.S. nuclear reactors. It offers the potential to reduce war and eliminate poverty. One ton of thorium can create the same amount of energy as 3.5 million tons of coal. On the other hand, you can choose between a fluid fueled reactor (like a MSR) or a solid fueled reactor (like a LWR or a sodium-cooled fast reactor). Integral Molten Salt Reactor®: Safe, clean, low-cost, high-impact and resilient IMSR ® power plants use truly innovative nuclear technology to be safe, reliable, clean and low-cost, making them today’s alternative to fossil fuel combustion. 2. The fuel in nuclear fission reactors is usually based on the metal oxide. Standard fuel rods may have storage challenges and costs that must be met, but with current technology, it is still cheaper to generate power on fuel rods than it is to provide molten salts or irradiated thorium for energy production. It may also reduce the need for long-term storage as the technology for reusing fuels is improved. 5. Current nuclear technologies can achieve an efficiency rate of about 5% with its fuel. Transatomic uses a newer variant of Hastelloy N that avoids the embrittlement problem and has zero corrosion in a high-flux reducing molten salt environment. As a breeder reactor, a modified MSR might be able to produce weapons-grade nuclear material. Pure thorium salt being loaded into a … I copied the following bullet points from this Wikipedia article. That means the waste products that are currently in storage could be used again as a power source. This 500 MW fission power plant is encapsulated in a hull, built in a shipyard, towed to a shallow … If molten salts are not used and uranium-233 is preferred, then the fuel can be used in nuclear weapons, which eliminates the purpose of transitioning to this technology for many in the first place. The benefits of MSRs are plentiful, hence their resilience as an interesting topic throughoutreactor history. Because this is a technology not in play right now, many of the anticipated costs are only speculative and could be much higher. It creates a molten salt mixture that is highly corrosive. That means the malicious step to modify energy fuel into a nuclear weapon goes away with this technology. A thorium reactor can produce efficiency levels as high as 98%. The use of thorium reactors instead of traditional nuclear reactors would eliminate the need for large-scale storage of spent fuel. That conversion also releases highly chemically corrosive unbonded fluorine. The standard answer here is "don't remove Pa-233 from the neutron flux; wait until it's U-233", and "automate and seal the blanket-to-fuel step, which you'd kinda want to do anyway". Part of the reason for this is that traditional nuclear technologies are still functional and much cheaper. Now, the European team is giving it another shot. 3. 1. It can be moved around with a pump and passively drained. The disadvantages of molten salt reactors. That means thorium energy has the potential to produce more energy than any current traditional fossil-fuel based option, current nuclear technologies, and renewable power resources. The technology is promising in terms of safety and economy and has the potential to avoid the release of long-lived radioactive waste in the case of severe accidents. MSR designs rely on nickel-based alloys to hold the molten salt. 6. This also addresses corrosion, and the cores will use stainless steel. Since the fuel salt is liquid, it can be both the fuel (producing the heat) and the coolant (transporting the heat to the power plant). Unlike all current nuclear reactors, the fuel is in liquid form. MSRs have a small footprint on the land & are a safe continuous source of dense electric powerthey produce no greenhouse gases. Noel Wauchope says: don't believe the hype.. Thorium reactors are the latest flavour in nuclear power hype. When thorium is irradiated, it creates uranium-232. Thorium is safer to mine. Ever heard of the Thorium molten salt reactor? The lithium is highly enriched in Li-7. When operating, it produces zero greenhouse gas emissions. 3. Molten salt reactors (MSR) use molten fluoride or chloride salts as a coolant. With Gilbert Johnston, Michel Prud'Homme, Friedhelm Ptok. Because there is not an infrastructure in place to support thorium technologies, the cost of start-up would need to include the cost to implement administrative oversight of this technology. Those that don't are meant for military use. When irradiated, thorium produces uranium-232 initially and that disrupts the reaction process for current nuclear weapon technologies. It … At the same time, when thorium is added to current nuclear waste, the storage time for the waste is reduced. Getting a new reactor design licensed and built is a hideously byzantine and outrageously expensive process in most countries. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast, More posts from the thoriumreactor community. 1. See their whitepaper. Bullet point answers itself; some modern designs avoid this issue. Here are some additional key points to think about when looking at the pros and cons of a thorium reactor. Press question mark to learn the rest of the keyboard shortcuts. Should the reactor overheat for some reason, then the reaction that is generated begins to slow down on its own. R&D continues, particularly in Small Nuclear Reactors (SMR) and their variants and technologies, like molten salt and high temperature gas. 8. HOWEVER I will try to stick strictly to molten salt VS molten metal and try to leave the molten fuel VS molten coolant and solid fuel out of my response. 2. This means that such a reactor could not suffer from a loss of coolant leading to a meltdown. 9. They Burn thorium which is a waste stream from mining iron and Rare elements. Some modern designs avoid this issue. Molten salt reactors haven't yet been proven at a commercial scale, and that means no private company will touch the idea. Or is it just a design feature of the reactor? Molten salt reactors (MSRs) use molten fluoride salts as primary coolant, at low pressure. If something has gone wrong in a molten metal reactor you cannot see it. Many nations do not even have the knowledge base necessary to create an approval agency in the first place. It produces high levels of energy. A standard thorium reactor would use irradiated thorium to produce energy. The Department of Energy will select industry partners to build two next-generation reactors, such as the molten salt cooled reactor being designed by Terrestrial Energy USA. Kind of absurd that's there. The fuel for molten salt reactors is already in a liquid form as well, so the threat of a meltdown emergency is eliminated. These thorium reactor pros and cons prove that there is a lot of potential in this technology. Thorium reactors are the latest big thing in nuclear spin. 11 Important Three Gorges Dam Pros and Cons, 18 Major Advantages and Disadvantages of the Payback Period, 20 Advantages and Disadvantages of Leasing a Car, 19 Advantages and Disadvantages of Debt Financing, 24 Key Advantages and Disadvantages of a C Corporation, 16 Biggest Advantages and Disadvantages of Mediation, 18 Advantages and Disadvantages of a Gated Community, 17 Big Advantages and Disadvantages of Focus Groups, 17 Key Advantages and Disadvantages of Corporate Bonds, 19 Major Advantages and Disadvantages of Annuities, 17 Biggest Advantages and Disadvantages of Advertising. Thorium is believed to have at least 3 times more availability than uranium. For countries with nuclear capabilities, starting or reopening the research into the various methods of fueling a thorium reactor may be somewhat costly, but could also be life-changing to future generations. Required onsite chemical plant to manage core mixture and remove fission products. Future generations would be able to benefit from this technology and it would be able to fuel innovation in many different industries because the threat of a power shortage would be effectively eliminated. With thorium waste, the estimated time is just 300 years. A new breakthrough could help engineers crack the next phase of nuclear energy. In this respect an MSR is more similar to a liquid metal cooled reactor than to a conventional light water cooled reactor. The materials used to process these materials must be able to withstand its harshness. As Argonne explains it, when an atom in a nuclear reactor “fissions”—or splits into several smaller fragments—neutrons are released at high energy (fast speeds). 4/5. 4. Required regulatory changes to deal with radically different design features. A thorium-based molten salt reactor (also known as Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor, or LFTR for short) is also much more efficient with its nuclear fuel, in that it converts almost all of its thorium fuel to uranium-233 and then burns almost all of it. Little development compared to most Gen IV designs. It eliminates the threat of nuclear weapons. There would be fewer comparisons with these facilities operational about which leader has the bigger button to push. short description of MSRE and thorium power. Their waste burner design, for example, is small enough that it can fit inside a standard shipping container. Misconception #6: Thorium reactors and Molten Salt Reactors are the same thing! Know if any of these issues have been addressed ) research and fuel! Have the molten salt reactor disadvantages time, when thorium is compared to traditional nuclear technologies efficient and would be in. 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Irradiated thorium to produce weapons-grade nuclear material a technology not in play right now, the fuel molten. Of power on planet Earth using U-233 in play right now, the European team is giving it another.! Points to think about when looking at the same time, when thorium is radioactive! Thorium fuel utilization facilities operational about which leader has the bigger button push!

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