China and Russia looking at 27 floating nuclear reactors but ThorCon and Indonesia could scale to 100 per year

Floating nuclear power plants offer several economic advantages.

A large percentage of the cost of a nuclear power plant is the construction and installation of the plant itself. This cost can vary and increase if the site has challenging weather and other conditions. Also, cold and harsh environments may not have a highly trained local workforce to build each plant.

Building floating nuclear reactors means that the factory or shipyard can be at the most productive and efficient location.

A shipyard is more streamlined and efficient than construction sites because there is more automation, a better-trained workforce, a more controlled environment and no exposure to the elements.

A floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) offers useful flexibility. They can be moved if the demand moves. An oil or gas project may only need power for 10 years, so the nuclear plant can move from one oil and gas project to the next.

The ocean can be used as a heat sink to cool the reactor for added safety.

Russia is planning to produce seven floating nuclear reactors. Russia completed one and it will be used for an Arctic oil and gas projects.

China is looking to make twenty floating reactors and possibly more. China should be completing the first of its floating reactors in 2019.

Indonesia might launch mass production of Thorcon molten salt floating reactors

ThorCon is developing molten salt floating nuclear reactors. They use the same steam and electrical side as a standard 500 MWe supercritical coal plant. But gone are the massive coal handling systems, the 100 m high boiler, the flue gas treatment system, and the ash handling and storage system. A generous estimate of the overnight cost of the ThorCon steam side, everything but the nuclear island, is $700/kW. This is a well-established number.

The total overnight cost of a 500 MWe coal plant is between 2000 and 1400 dollars per kW. Both figures assume no attempt at carbon capture. ThorCon would be 2 to three times cheaper than coal.

The ThorCon nuclear island requires one-sixth as much steel and one-fourth as much concrete as the portion of the coal plant upstream from the turbine. A 1 GWe ThorCon nuclear island requires less than 400 tons of superalloys and other exotic materials. ThorCon operating at near ambient pressure has a 2:1 advantage in steel and a 5:1 advantage in concrete over its nuclear competitors on the nuclear side. Much more importantly, very little of ThorCon’s concrete is reinforced. Reinforced concrete is impossible to automate, drives the critical path, is not amenable to block construction, and entombs the critical portion of the plant in a mausoleum making repair and replacement extremely difficult. ThorCon can be produced entirely in bargable blocks at shipyard assembly line productivity.

Based on resource and labor requirements and allowing for stringent inspection and testing, the ThorCon nuclear island should cost less than $500 per kW on an overnight basis.

Thorcon wants to provide Indonesia initially with 7 cents per kwh power that can be moved to any of the hundreds of islands in Indonesia. The costs should then go down with later units.

ThorCon uses exactly the same proven modular ship building production process except the blocks are barged to the site and dropped into place.

The Hellespont Metropolis is one of eight ships built by ThorCon’s predecessor company. This ship is the largest double hull tanker ever built. She can carry 440,000 tons of oil. Her steel weight is 67,000 tons. She required 700,000 man-hours of direct labor, a little more than 10 man-hours per ton of ship steel. About 40% of this was expended on hull steel; the rest on outfitting. She was built in less than 12 months and cost 89 million dollars in 2002.

COPYRIGHT 2003 DAWID ADENDORFF

A 1 GWe ThorCon is so small that the nuclear island easily fits into three center tanks of the Hellespont Metropolis, and requires one-fourth as much steel as a very large tanker.

This steel requirement is roughly equivalent to a medium size, 125,000 dwt Suezmax tanker. Compared to a 1GWe ThorCon, the Suezmax requires more steel (23,000 tons vs 15,000) and is larger overall (270 m by 50 m by 23 m versus 150 x 30 x34). The ship’s structure is far more complex and subject to tougher loads. The Suezmax has far more coated surface. The Suezmax can move herself at 15 knots, survive a hurricane, and discharge her cargo in about a day. A good shipyard can profitably build a Suezmax for 60 million dollars.

A big shipyard can turn out 100 of these ships a year. It could easily manufacture 100 one GWe ThorCons per year.

In terms of resource requirements, a 1GWe ThorCon is not a big deal.

A 1 GWe ThorCon requires an initial fuel charge of 3,156 kg of 20% Low Enriched Uranium. We also need to add 11 kilograms of this fuel per day. Every 8 years the fuel must be changed out. The uranium is easily recoverable, but we do not give ourselves any credit for this. Assuming a yellowcake cost of $66 per kg, a conversion to UF6 cost of $7.50, and 90 dollars per SWU, ThorCon’s levelized fuel cost is 0.53 cents per kilowatt-hour. See the Executive Summary for details.

Every 8 years the plant will end up sending about 160 tons of spent fuel back to the recycling facility. This material will be about 75% thorium, with 95% of the remainder valuable uranium. Even if we don’t attempt any separation, other than boiling off the salt, the total fuel waste stream averages about 2 m3 per year.

ThorCon has more than a 4:1 advantage over coal in fuel costs, and at least a 50,000:1 advantage in solid waste volume. If the easily separated uranium is re-enriched, then ThorCon’s fuel cost will drop further, and uranium requirements will be nearly halved.

149 thoughts on “China and Russia looking at 27 floating nuclear reactors but ThorCon and Indonesia could scale to 100 per year”

  1. Note that while this is a “floating” plant while it is built or moved, it is designed to be ballasted and sunk about 10-20m into the ocean where it stays permanently.

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  2. It amuses me to think that if the world gets enough brains in its leaders’ heads, a sufficiency of nuclear with the MSR level of response to demand means that it can be built to handle peak electrical loads, and THEREFORE will have enough low cost off-peak capacity to do without the oil that the marvelously big tankers can carry. Which of course is the ultimate goal of genuine 100% energy sustainable with minuscule emissions.

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  3. It’s time that supercritical CO2 heat engines are scaled up to hundred gigawatt size. There would be serious steel savings on the nonnuclear side, and waste heat would be cheaper to get rid of, since it could be rejected at a higher temperature.

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  4. No, not yet. It has to get closer to actually being ready to work. Once it’s under construction, and serious money has been invested in it, THEN they try to shut it down. I’m old enough to remember when wind power was always considered green. Now it fluctuates back and forth between saviour-of-the-world and migraine-inducing-ugly-bird-blender depending on if the system is evil enough to actually run at a profit.

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  5. It’s time that supercritical CO2 heat engines are scaled up to hundred gigawatt size. There would be serious steel savings on the nonnuclear side and waste heat would be cheaper to get rid of since it could be rejected at a higher temperature.

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  6. No not yet.It has to get closer to actually being ready to work. Once it’s under construction and serious money has been invested in it THEN they try to shut it down.I’m old enough to remember when wind power was always considered green. Now it fluctuates back and forth between saviour-of-the-world and migraine-inducing-ugly-bird-blender depending on if the system is evil enough to actually run at a profit.

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  7. Assuming a yellowcake cost of $66 per kg, a conversion to UF6 cost of $7.50, and 90 dollars per SWU, ThorCon’s levelized fuel cost is 0.53 cents per kilowatt-hour.” Ok, so another way to say it is this: ThorCon fuel costs what fuel costs at 5X typical LWR enrichment and the extra SWU offsets any manufacturing savings from being un-clad. We pay $12/kg for conversion, but that is prolly because we use oxide finished product instead of fluoride.

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  8. Assuming a yellowcake cost of $66 per kg a conversion to UF6 cost of $7.50 and 90 dollars per SWU” ThorCon’s levelized fuel cost is 0.53 cents per kilowatt-hour.””Ok”” so another way to say it is this: ThorCon fuel costs what fuel costs at 5X typical LWR enrichment and the extra SWU offsets any manufacturing savings from being un-clad.We pay $12/kg for conversion”” but that is prolly because we use oxide finished product instead of fluoride.”””””””

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  9. All of this sounds good to me. But is there a real demand for producing 100 nuclear barge reactors a year? Why are those numbers being brought up?

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  10. I know it’s all been done before, but floating power stations are a great idea. Also, the old wisdom that BWR are no good for maritime purposes due to rolling seas and sloshing in the core prolly doesn’t apply to a 50,000 ton barge. BWR are superior tech to PWR for electrical generation IMO.

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  11. It’s what we need to power the giant laser bank needed to launch interstellar space probes. Plus we can get rid of Mars once and for all, and so live at peace.

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  12. SWU “Separative work – the amount of separation done by an enrichment process – is a function of the concentrations of the feedstock, the enriched output, and the depleted tailings; and is expressed in units which are so calculated as to be proportional to the total input (energy / machine operation time) and to the mass processed. Separative work is not energy.” For those of us for whom this is not obvious.

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  13. The nice thing about China and Russia making these floating reactors is that it might, just might embarrass the US into getting off it’s ass and doing the same.

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  14. All of this sounds good to me. But is there a real demand for producing 100 nuclear barge reactors a year? Why are those numbers being brought up?

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  15. I know it’s all been done before but floating power stations are a great idea. Also the old wisdom that BWR are no good for maritime purposes due to rolling seas and sloshing in the core prolly doesn’t apply to a 50000 ton barge. BWR are superior tech to PWR for electrical generation IMO.

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  16. It’s what we need to power the giant laser bank needed to launch interstellar space probes.Plus we can get rid of Mars once and for all and so live at peace.

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  17. SWU Separative work – the amount of separation done by an enrichment process – is a function of the concentrations of the feedstock the enriched output” and the depleted tailings; and is expressed in units which are so calculated as to be proportional to the total input (energy / machine operation time) and to the mass processed. Separative work is not energy.””For those of us for whom this is not obvious.”””””””

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  18. The nice thing about China and Russia making these floating reactors is that it might just might embarrass the US into getting off it’s ass and doing the same.

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  19. I know that I’ve asked previously, and you took the trouble to write it out, but all that has been lost in the great commentopocolypse of 2018, so is there a neat online summary article you could point to that provides (in your opinion) the pros and cons of the various fission approaches?

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  20. The wiki article I cutnpasted from went on to say that yes, it was proportional to energy, but different processes would have different amounts of energy for given SWUs.

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  21. I know that I’ve asked previously and you took the trouble to write it out but all that has been lost in the great commentopocolypse of 2018 so is there a neat online summary article you could point to that provides (in your opinion) the pros and cons of the various fission approaches?

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  22. The wiki article I cutnpasted from went on to say that yes it was proportional to energy but different processes would have different amounts of energy for given SWUs.

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  23. Floating nuclear reactors are a great idea– if they’re remotely located– for the production of carbon neutral synthetic fuels and industrial chemicals. But if they’re located too close to populated coastal areas, they become easy targets for aerial and naval terrorist attacks and the local panic and political interference that could hamper the the growth of the nuclear industry. While the environmental consequences of such an attack would probably be minimal, the economic impact could be enormous– due to the media attention and protest by such groups as Green Peace. Plus you should never make it cheap and easy for terrorist to commit acts of terror. You should make it difficult and expensive to do so. Remotely sited– underwater– nuclear reactors would make it extremely expensive and difficult to commit acts of terror in places where there is no significant human presence. Marcel

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  24. ThorCon fuel is a combination of 80% thorium and 20% uranium. The uranium is enriched to 19.75% U-235 (LEU20). The fuel will be delivered to the plant as fluoride salts.

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  25. CANDU is awesome. I’ve heard they would have difficulty being licensed in USA because voiding in the pressure tubes would cause power to spike. Heavy water is very interesting and easy to obtain compared to other enrichment processes. if it were not for cost i would say all light water reactors should be converted to use heavy water. Heavy water is awesome. Making real power without enrichment is awesome. CANDU is the Avro Arrow CF105 that got built.

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  26. They could produce 300 plants a year for decades and not meet the demand. JUST WATCH THE SECOND VIDEO. It discusses the demand for new coal plants. This does not include the plants that need replacement.

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  27. We lost all those comments. Stinks. I have a few work-related papers out there, but mostly I’m just opinionated with a good deal of LWR design experience. I’ve designed both P&BWR reloads, helped license them and directly managed at least $1B worth of LWR fuel in 18 years. I think everybody has the right idea wanting a higher delta-T out of an advanced design like a MSR or high temp gas cooled or liquid metal – that’s just good thermodynamics we all understand. BWR seem to have lower capital equipment cost because of direct cycle boiling the water on the fuel, but operating costs are the same P&BWR. Containment is A LOT smaller in B; fuel design is rather difficult, but that doesn’t matter because just means that an engineer has to work 3 months to get the reload right. Should be cheaper; maybe they were, but that was 1978. Pro and con list would take some effort. PbBi and MSR have severe metallurgical issues. Gas cooled high temp graphite has low power density. MSR has unique radological hazard issues. Na&K has been done but the core is scary. Russians are cool for deploying Bn800. Chinese are cool for their pebble beds. Germans are fools for phase-out actually happening. NRC makes small mistakes into big issues in the US. Etc

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  28. Floating nuclear reactors are a great idea– if they’re remotely located– for the production of carbon neutral synthetic fuels and industrial chemicals. But if they’re located too close to populated coastal areas they become easy targets for aerial and naval terrorist attacks and the local panic and political interference that could hamper the the growth of the nuclear industry. While the environmental consequences of such an attack would probably be minimal the economic impact could be enormous– due to the media attention and protest by such groups as Green Peace. Plus you should never make it cheap and easy for terrorist to commit acts of terror. You should make it difficult and expensive to do so.Remotely sited– underwater– nuclear reactors would make it extremely expensive and difficult to commit acts of terror in places where there is no significant human presence. Marcel

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  29. ThorCon fuel is a combination of 80{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} thorium and 20{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} uranium. The uranium is enriched to 19.75{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} U-235 (LEU20). The fuel will be delivered to the plant as fluoride salts.

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  30. CANDU is awesome. I’ve heard they would have difficulty being licensed in USA because voiding in the pressure tubes would cause power to spike. Heavy water is very interesting and easy to obtain compared to other enrichment processes. if it were not for cost i would say all light water reactors should be converted to use heavy water. Heavy water is awesome. Making real power without enrichment is awesome. CANDU is the Avro Arrow CF105 that got built.

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  31. They could produce 300 plants a year for decades and not meet the demand. JUST WATCH THE SECOND VIDEO. It discusses the demand for new coal plants. This does not include the plants that need replacement.

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  32. We lost all those comments. Stinks. I have a few work-related papers out there but mostly I’m just opinionated with a good deal of LWR design experience. I’ve designed both P&BWR reloads helped license them and directly managed at least $1B worth of LWR fuel in 18 years. I think everybody has the right idea wanting a higher delta-T out of an advanced design like a MSR or high temp gas cooled or liquid metal – that’s just good thermodynamics we all understand.BWR seem to have lower capital equipment cost because of direct cycle boiling the water on the fuel but operating costs are the same P&BWR. Containment is A LOT smaller in B; fuel design is rather difficult but that doesn’t matter because just means that an engineer has to work 3 months to get the reload right. Should be cheaper; maybe they were but that was 1978. Pro and con list would take some effort. PbBi and MSR have severe metallurgical issues. Gas cooled high temp graphite has low power density. MSR has unique radological hazard issues. Na&K has been done but the core is scary. Russians are cool for deploying Bn800. Chinese are cool for their pebble beds. Germans are fools for phase-out actually happening. NRC makes small mistakes into big issues in the US. Etc

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  33. The Earth’s oceans already contain about 4.6 billion tonnes of natural uranium containing for than 400 million tonnes of fissile uranium 235 . So an accident potentially depositing a mere 100 tonnes of slightly enriched uranium would, of course, be insignificant. Plus water is what keeps enriched uranium fuel from melting down in the first place. And there are hundreds of nuclear powered vessels floating on and in the Earth’s oceans which has been true since the 1950s. Marcel

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  34. Other than the Thorcon guy looking like the crypt-keeper… ARE YOU F”ING INSANE! Nuclear plants floating on the oceans are a massive disaster waiting to happen. It’s hard enough containing waste on land. One accident with toxic nuclear waste pouring into our ocean has the potential to destroy sea-life (and ourselves) on a massive scale. No. I’m not some tree-hugging, liberal lefty… Just concerned that everyone thinks this is a great idea without thinking about the potential catastrophic consequences.

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  35. It would be great if this tech for cheaper production of heavy water pans outhttps://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15215My understanding is that the relatively long average time between neutron released in fission & neutron captured in nucleus in CANDUs makes it fairly easy to control the reactor even if there is a spike due to a void.

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  36. The Earth’s oceans already contain about 4.6 billion tonnes of natural uranium containing for than 400 million tonnes of fissile uranium 235 . So an accident potentially depositing a mere 100 tonnes of slightly enriched uranium would of course be insignificant. Plus water is what keeps enriched uranium fuel from melting down in the first place. And there are hundreds of nuclear powered vessels floating on and in the Earth’s oceans which has been true since the 1950s. Marcel

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  37. Other than the Thorcon guy looking like the crypt-keeper… ARE YOU FING INSANE! Nuclear plants floating on the oceans are a massive disaster waiting to happen. It’s hard enough containing waste on land. One accident with toxic nuclear waste pouring into our ocean has the potential to destroy sea-life (and ourselves) on a massive scale. No. I’m not some tree-hugging” liberal lefty… Just concerned that everyone thinks this is a great idea without thinking about the potential catastrophic consequences.”

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  38. Yes, ESBWR and ABWR are IMO the best choices for new construction – better than PWR. The irradiated steam ideally contains only short lived (minutes) activated nitrogen, oxygen… The gammas from these are hard, really hard; I think one is a 7MeV gamma! Holy cow! So, the turbines and feedwater heaters are behind concrete shield walls because of this. They have to isolate steam to the separate “strings” of feedwater heaters during online maintenance – not a big deal – done frequently. During outage maintenance the corrosion products and crud are radiation sources. If fuel rods break, which they do occasionally, fission product gasses and other volatiles do make it to the condenser. Air in leakage to condenser is treated as if contaminated – it is routed through holdup volumes and charcoal prior to going out the stack. It might be like 50 STP cubic feet per minute. Station total dose at a bwr is double the dose of PWR. Dose is low even by standards of linear no threshold paradigm.

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  39. There is huge demand for electricity. There is slightly less demand for electrical power plants (because some people want the electricity but want it without the plants) and there is much less demand for nuclear plants because of the associated fear and politics.

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  40. While waiting for your reply I went and read the Wikipedia BWR article. It discusses the GE Simplified BWR and the further development of the Economic Simplified BWR. Is that the design you were suggesting should be the best option going forwards? And I don’t get the comment about containment being smaller in BWR. I’d have guesses that BWR would have larger containment areas because you are sending irradiated water out to the turbines and back. So the contained zone should include the turbines as well.

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  41. To be fair, while the world’s oceans as a whole would not notice (another) reactor ending up in them, the local area probably would. I imagine that having a reactor break up and sink into the waters off an Indonesian island would probably mess up the tourism and fishing industry in that location, even if the people living a few hundred km away are fine. Of course that assumes that it broke up and sank. Mere sinking should be OK providing you can send a salvage ship out, use remote robots to hook some cables on board, lift it off the sea floor and then take it out and dump it in the remote depths.

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  42. Yes ESBWR and ABWR are IMO the best choices for new construction – better than PWR.The irradiated steam ideally contains only short lived (minutes) activated nitrogen oxygen… The gammas from these are hard really hard; I think one is a 7MeV gamma! Holy cow! So the turbines and feedwater heaters are behind concrete shield walls because of this. They have to isolate steam to the separate strings”” of feedwater heaters during online maintenance – not a big deal – done frequently. During outage maintenance the corrosion products and crud are radiation sources. If fuel rods break”” which they do occasionally”” fission product gasses and other volatiles do make it to the condenser. Air in leakage to condenser is treated as if contaminated – it is routed through holdup volumes and charcoal prior to going out the stack. It might be like 50 STP cubic feet per minute. Station total dose at a bwr is double the dose of PWR. Dose is low even by standards of linear no threshold paradigm.”””

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  43. There is huge demand for electricity. There is slightly less demand for electrical power plants (because some people want the electricity but want it without the plants) and there is much less demand for nuclear plants because of the associated fear and politics.

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  44. While waiting for your reply I went and read the Wikipedia BWR article. It discusses the GE Simplified BWR and the further development of the Economic Simplified BWR. Is that the design you were suggesting should be the best option going forwards?And I don’t get the comment about containment being smaller in BWR. I’d have guesses that BWR would have larger containment areas because you are sending irradiated water out to the turbines and back. So the contained zone should include the turbines as well.

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  45. To be fair while the world’s oceans as a whole would not notice (another) reactor ending up in them the local area probably would. I imagine that having a reactor break up and sink into the waters off an Indonesian island would probably mess up the tourism and fishing industry in that location even if the people living a few hundred km away are fine.Of course that assumes that it broke up and sank. Mere sinking should be OK providing you can send a salvage ship out use remote robots to hook some cables on board lift it off the sea floor and then take it out and dump it in the remote depths.

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  46. I hereby demand that Thorcon produce 1,000 MSR’s per year. There, now you’ve heard about the demand. Why? To replace every hydrocarbon power plant in the world, and save our butts from global warming. We need about 10,000 of these MSR’s to generate tons of electric power, tons more of process heat for factories, and to desalinate gigatons of seawater for crops and drinking. MSR’s make it possible to completely eliminate the need to dig any more carbon out of the ground. They also make it possible to provide fresh water to everybody, and to provide all the power needed to make possible a world without starvation or poverty. I too wonder why they bring up 100 barge reactors per year. The world needs ten times that many per year. Our species is in a race against time, and we are losing.

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  47. If only Thorcon would team up with Moltex to combine their shipyard construction tehcnique with Moltex’s fuel salt in tubes approach. If only someone other than China could get enough money to build a prototype.

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  48. Other than all the nuke ships already cruising around the ocean… Do you have any conception of how a molten salt reactor works? It sounds like the answer is NO. First of all, the Thorcon design features gravity passive safety. In the event of a “runaway” reaction (which can’t happen for other design reasons), the salt would melt a plug made of salt at the bottom of the reaction vessel. That dumps the molten salt into a lower tank whose baffles quench the neutrons, so the reaction stops and the whole thing cools down. After that, the molten salt turns into a solid, so there won’t be any “pouring into the ocean.” Oh, and without neutrons flying around, the thorium fuel can’t transmute into U233, so there wouldn’t be a massive radiation problem even if the whole mess got dumped into the ocean. You could carry a pocket full of thorium all your life and get less radiation from it than from a banana, which would rot in your pocket and smell terrible. Also, the plan for the transport ships is to deliver MSR’s to coastal cities, not to float around aimlessly offshore waiting for the next hurricane.

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  49. PWR is too hot to quench? Or it’s just too hard to dump enough cold water in against the pressure? Or not enough spare volume in the reactor to add a lot more volume?

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  50. I’m sure they have their reasons to propose thorium but it’s kinda irrelevant even if their name is THORcon. They have to throw away 40 tons of depleted uranium for every ton of 20% enriched. Would be better if it was closer to breeding so it didn’t need enriched feed. They should stick to Uranium alone unless they have plans down the line to make tweaks so that it had a breeder ratio of unity or so

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  51. The containment at bwr is small compared to the containment at a PWR – fraction the size. BWR system is called a pressure suppression containment…. quenches the LOCA steam with spargers underwater. PWR containment are huge because they vent LOCA steam to a dry room.

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  52. PWR is 2250 psi BWR is 1030 psi. Both containments pressurize to 40 psi in the design basis LOCA. There are several PWR in USA that have smaller containment with literally TONS of borated ice in baskets to absorb energy in smaller volume. Besides the straight forward difference in enthalpy between 2250 and 1030 psi I think it was just a design choice to use dry containment in PWR because the plant layout with steam generator loops doesn’t lend well to wrapping in a tight containment. BWR is analogous to a single gigantic steam generator is cylindrical and can be enclosed closely (with penetrations for steam and feed and instruments). I think PWR containment was a design choice and BWR always attempted to minimize size and use suppression”” with spargers in a pool. Fukushima containments actually exceeded design pressure with the hydrogen burn – they held well and met spec. Didn’t have a “”””hardened vent”””” though – wouldn’t have failed catastrophically had the Japanese brought containment into US spec with back fit.”””

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  53. They should ALL team up and make a consortium. There is enough work to go around. It’s like herding cats though; they all think they got the right stuff.

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  54. I hereby demand that Thorcon produce 1000 MSR’s per year. There now you’ve heard about the demand. Why? To replace every hydrocarbon power plant in the world and save our butts from global warming. We need about 10000 of these MSR’s to generate tons of electric power tons more of process heat for factories and to desalinate gigatons of seawater for crops and drinking. MSR’s make it possible to completely eliminate the need to dig any more carbon out of the ground. They also make it possible to provide fresh water to everybody and to provide all the power needed to make possible a world without starvation or poverty. I too wonder why they bring up 100 barge reactors per year. The world needs ten times that many per year. Our species is in a race against time and we are losing.

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  55. If only Thorcon would team up with Moltex to combine their shipyard construction tehcnique with Moltex’s fuel salt in tubes approach.If only someone other than China could get enough money to build a prototype.

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  56. Other than all the nuke ships already cruising around the ocean… Do you have any conception of how a molten salt reactor works? It sounds like the answer is NO. First of all the Thorcon design features gravity passive safety. In the event of a runaway”” reaction (which can’t happen for other design reasons)”” the salt would melt a plug made of salt at the bottom of the reaction vessel. That dumps the molten salt into a lower tank whose baffles quench the neutrons so the reaction stops and the whole thing cools down. After that the molten salt turns into a solid”” so there won’t be any “”””pouring into the ocean.”””” Oh”” and without neutrons flying around the thorium fuel can’t transmute into U233 so there wouldn’t be a massive radiation problem even if the whole mess got dumped into the ocean. You could carry a pocket full of thorium all your life and get less radiation from it than from a banana which would rot in your pocket and smell terrible. Also the plan for the transport ships is to deliver MSR’s to coastal cities”” not to float around aimlessly offshore waiting for the next hurricane.”””

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  57. PWR is too hot to quench? Or it’s just too hard to dump enough cold water in against the pressure? Or not enough spare volume in the reactor to add a lot more volume?

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  58. I’m sure they have their reasons to propose thorium but it’s kinda irrelevant even if their name is THORcon. They have to throw away 40 tons of depleted uranium for every ton of 20{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} enriched. Would be better if it was closer to breeding so it didn’t need enriched feed. They should stick to Uranium alone unless they have plans down the line to make tweaks so that it had a breeder ratio of unity or so

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  59. The containment at bwr is small compared to the containment at a PWR – fraction the size. BWR system is called a pressure suppression containment…. quenches the LOCA steam with spargers underwater. PWR containment are huge because they vent LOCA steam to a dry room.

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  60. PWR is 2250 psi BWR is 1030 psi. Both containments pressurize to 40 psi in the design basis LOCA. There are several PWR in USA that have smaller containment with literally TONS of borated ice in baskets to absorb energy in smaller volume. Besides the straight forward difference in enthalpy between 2250 and 1030 psi, I think it was just a design choice to use dry containment in PWR because the plant layout with steam generator loops doesn’t lend well to wrapping in a tight containment. BWR is analogous to a single gigantic steam generator, is cylindrical and can be enclosed closely (with penetrations for steam and feed and instruments). I think PWR containment was a design choice and BWR always attempted to minimize size and use “suppression” with spargers in a pool. Fukushima containments actually exceeded design pressure with the hydrogen burn – they held well and met spec. Didn’t have a “hardened vent” though – wouldn’t have failed catastrophically had the Japanese brought containment into US spec with back fit.

    Reply
  61. They should ALL team up and make a consortium. There is enough work to go around. It’s like herding cats though; they all think they got the right stuff.

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  62. Is this related to PWR being developed for naval use and hence volume was a big consideration, while BWR is always on land, we can use another hectare to keep the design simple so why not?

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  63. Um, we already do it. Next time it is Fleet Week and a carrier rolls into port, you’ll see your floating reactor…all Made in the USA!

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  64. No. I’m not some tree-hugging, liberal lefty… We know. Historically, it has been the coal/oil/nat gas industry that has used environmentalism against Nuke Power as a false flag operation to kill it.

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  65. Is this related to PWR being developed for naval use and hence volume was a big consideration while BWR is always on land we can use another hectare to keep the design simple so why not?

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  66. Um we already do it. Next time it is Fleet Week and a carrier rolls into port you’ll see your floating reactor…all Made in the USA!

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  67. No. I’m not some tree-hugging liberal lefty… We know. Historically” it has been the coal/oil/nat gas industry that has used environmentalism against Nuke Power as a false flag operation to kill it.”

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  68. BWR doesn’t “need another hectare”. The reactor is smaller and arguably more simple than a PWR. That’s it – and they are a minority globally because none of the other original vendors (B&W, Westinghouse, CE) codeveloped the tech with the US government but GE did.

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  69. BWR doesn’t eed another hectare””. The reactor is smaller and arguably more simple than a PWR. That’s it – and they are a minority globally because none of the other original vendors (B&W”” Westinghouse”” CE) codeveloped the tech with the US government but GE did.”””

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  70. Yes, of course you’d just said that the BWR was smaller than the PWR. I got the two mixed up in my head as I was writing that last comment.

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  71. Yes of course you’d just said that the BWR was smaller than the PWR. I got the two mixed up in my head as I was writing that last comment.

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  72. BWR doesn’t “need another hectare”. The reactor is smaller and arguably more simple than a PWR. That’s it – and they are a minority globally because none of the other original vendors (B&W, Westinghouse, CE) codeveloped the tech with the US government but GE did.

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  73. Is this related to PWR being developed for naval use and hence volume was a big consideration, while BWR is always on land, we can use another hectare to keep the design simple so why not?

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  74. “No. I’m not some tree-hugging, liberal lefty…

    We know. Historically, it has been the coal/oil/nat gas industry that has used environmentalism against Nuke Power as a false flag operation to kill it.

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  75. PWR is 2250 psi BWR is 1030 psi. Both containments pressurize to 40 psi in the design basis LOCA. There are several PWR in USA that have smaller containment with literally TONS of borated ice in baskets to absorb energy in smaller volume. Besides the straight forward difference in enthalpy between 2250 and 1030 psi, I think it was just a design choice to use dry containment in PWR because the plant layout with steam generator loops doesn’t lend well to wrapping in a tight containment. BWR is analogous to a single gigantic steam generator, is cylindrical and can be enclosed closely (with penetrations for steam and feed and instruments). I think PWR containment was a design choice and BWR always attempted to minimize size and use “suppression” with spargers in a pool. Fukushima containments actually exceeded design pressure with the hydrogen burn – they held well and met spec. Didn’t have a “hardened vent” though – wouldn’t have failed catastrophically had the Japanese brought containment into US spec with back fit.

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  76. I hereby demand that Thorcon produce 1,000 MSR’s per year. There, now you’ve heard about the demand. Why? To replace every hydrocarbon power plant in the world, and save our butts from global warming. We need about 10,000 of these MSR’s to generate tons of electric power, tons more of process heat for factories, and to desalinate gigatons of seawater for crops and drinking.

    MSR’s make it possible to completely eliminate the need to dig any more carbon out of the ground. They also make it possible to provide fresh water to everybody, and to provide all the power needed to make possible a world without starvation or poverty.

    I too wonder why they bring up 100 barge reactors per year. The world needs ten times that many per year. Our species is in a race against time, and we are losing.

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  77. If only Thorcon would team up with Moltex to combine their shipyard construction tehcnique with Moltex’s fuel salt in tubes approach.

    If only someone other than China could get enough money to build a prototype.

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  78. Other than all the nuke ships already cruising around the ocean… Do you have any conception of how a molten salt reactor works? It sounds like the answer is NO. First of all, the Thorcon design features gravity passive safety. In the event of a “runaway” reaction (which can’t happen for other design reasons), the salt would melt a plug made of salt at the bottom of the reaction vessel. That dumps the molten salt into a lower tank whose baffles quench the neutrons, so the reaction stops and the whole thing cools down. After that, the molten salt turns into a solid, so there won’t be any “pouring into the ocean.” Oh, and without neutrons flying around, the thorium fuel can’t transmute into U233, so there wouldn’t be a massive radiation problem even if the whole mess got dumped into the ocean. You could carry a pocket full of thorium all your life and get less radiation from it than from a banana, which would rot in your pocket and smell terrible.

    Also, the plan for the transport ships is to deliver MSR’s to coastal cities, not to float around aimlessly offshore waiting for the next hurricane.

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  79. PWR is too hot to quench? Or it’s just too hard to dump enough cold water in against the pressure? Or not enough spare volume in the reactor to add a lot more volume?

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  80. I’m sure they have their reasons to propose thorium but it’s kinda irrelevant even if their name is THORcon. They have to throw away 40 tons of depleted uranium for every ton of 20% enriched. Would be better if it was closer to breeding so it didn’t need enriched feed. They should stick to Uranium alone unless they have plans down the line to make tweaks so that it had a breeder ratio of unity or so

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  81. The containment at bwr is small compared to the containment at a PWR – fraction the size. BWR system is called a pressure suppression containment…. quenches the LOCA steam with spargers underwater. PWR containment are huge because they vent LOCA steam to a dry room.

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  82. Yes, ESBWR and ABWR are IMO the best choices for new construction – better than PWR.

    The irradiated steam ideally contains only short lived (minutes) activated nitrogen, oxygen… The gammas from these are hard, really hard; I think one is a 7MeV gamma! Holy cow! So, the turbines and feedwater heaters are behind concrete shield walls because of this. They have to isolate steam to the separate “strings” of feedwater heaters during online maintenance – not a big deal – done frequently. During outage maintenance the corrosion products and crud are radiation sources. If fuel rods break, which they do occasionally, fission product gasses and other volatiles do make it to the condenser. Air in leakage to condenser is treated as if contaminated – it is routed through holdup volumes and charcoal prior to going out the stack. It might be like 50 STP cubic feet per minute. Station total dose at a bwr is double the dose of PWR. Dose is low even by standards of linear no threshold paradigm.

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  83. There is huge demand for electricity.
    There is slightly less demand for electrical power plants (because some people want the electricity but want it without the plants) and there is much less demand for nuclear plants because of the associated fear and politics.

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  84. While waiting for your reply I went and read the Wikipedia BWR article. It discusses the GE Simplified BWR and the further development of the Economic Simplified BWR. Is that the design you were suggesting should be the best option going forwards?

    And I don’t get the comment about containment being smaller in BWR. I’d have guesses that BWR would have larger containment areas because you are sending irradiated water out to the turbines and back. So the contained zone should include the turbines as well.

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  85. To be fair, while the world’s oceans as a whole would not notice (another) reactor ending up in them, the local area probably would. I imagine that having a reactor break up and sink into the waters off an Indonesian island would probably mess up the tourism and fishing industry in that location, even if the people living a few hundred km away are fine.

    Of course that assumes that it broke up and sank. Mere sinking should be OK providing you can send a salvage ship out, use remote robots to hook some cables on board, lift it off the sea floor and then take it out and dump it in the remote depths.

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  86. The Earth’s oceans already contain about 4.6 billion tonnes of natural uranium containing for than 400 million tonnes of fissile uranium 235 . So an accident potentially depositing a mere 100 tonnes of slightly enriched uranium would, of course, be insignificant.

    Plus water is what keeps enriched uranium fuel from melting down in the first place.

    And there are hundreds of nuclear powered vessels floating on and in the Earth’s oceans which has been true since the 1950s.

    Marcel

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  87. Other than the Thorcon guy looking like the crypt-keeper… ARE YOU F”ING INSANE! Nuclear plants floating on the oceans are a massive disaster waiting to happen. It’s hard enough containing waste on land. One accident with toxic nuclear waste pouring into our ocean has the potential to destroy sea-life (and ourselves) on a massive scale. No. I’m not some tree-hugging, liberal lefty… Just concerned that everyone thinks this is a great idea without thinking about the potential catastrophic consequences.

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  88. Floating nuclear reactors are a great idea– if they’re remotely located– for the production of carbon neutral synthetic fuels and industrial chemicals. But if they’re located too close to populated coastal areas, they become easy targets for aerial and naval terrorist attacks and the local panic and political interference that could hamper the the growth of the nuclear industry.

    While the environmental consequences of such an attack would probably be minimal, the economic impact could be enormous– due to the media attention and protest by such groups as Green Peace.

    Plus you should never make it cheap and easy for terrorist to commit acts of terror. You should make it difficult and expensive to do so.

    Remotely sited– underwater– nuclear reactors would make it extremely expensive and difficult to commit acts of terror in places where there is no significant human presence.

    Marcel

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  89. ThorCon fuel is a combination of 80% thorium and 20% uranium. The uranium is enriched to 19.75% U-235 (LEU20). The fuel will be delivered to the plant as fluoride salts.

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  90. CANDU is awesome. I’ve heard they would have difficulty being licensed in USA because voiding in the pressure tubes would cause power to spike. Heavy water is very interesting and easy to obtain compared to other enrichment processes. if it were not for cost i would say all light water reactors should be converted to use heavy water. Heavy water is awesome. Making real power without enrichment is awesome. CANDU is the Avro Arrow CF105 that got built.

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  91. They could produce 300 plants a year for decades and not meet the demand. JUST WATCH THE SECOND VIDEO. It discusses the demand for new coal plants. This does not include the plants that need replacement.

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  92. We lost all those comments. Stinks. I have a few work-related papers out there, but mostly I’m just opinionated with a good deal of LWR design experience. I’ve designed both P&BWR reloads, helped license them and directly managed at least $1B worth of LWR fuel in 18 years.

    I think everybody has the right idea wanting a higher delta-T out of an advanced design like a MSR or high temp gas cooled or liquid metal – that’s just good thermodynamics we all understand.

    BWR seem to have lower capital equipment cost because of direct cycle boiling the water on the fuel, but operating costs are the same P&BWR. Containment is A LOT smaller in B; fuel design is rather difficult, but that doesn’t matter because just means that an engineer has to work 3 months to get the reload right. Should be cheaper; maybe they were, but that was 1978.

    Pro and con list would take some effort. PbBi and MSR have severe metallurgical issues. Gas cooled high temp graphite has low power density. MSR has unique radological hazard issues. Na&K has been done but the core is scary. Russians are cool for deploying Bn800. Chinese are cool for their pebble beds. Germans are fools for phase-out actually happening. NRC makes small mistakes into big issues in the US. Etc

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  93. I know that I’ve asked previously, and you took the trouble to write it out, but all that has been lost in the great commentopocolypse of 2018, so is there a neat online summary article you could point to that provides (in your opinion) the pros and cons of the various fission approaches?

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  94. The wiki article I cutnpasted from went on to say that yes, it was proportional to energy, but different processes would have different amounts of energy for given SWUs.

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  95. I know it’s all been done before, but floating power stations are a great idea. Also, the old wisdom that BWR are no good for maritime purposes due to rolling seas and sloshing in the core prolly doesn’t apply to a 50,000 ton barge. BWR are superior tech to PWR for electrical generation IMO.

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  96. SWU “Separative work – the amount of separation done by an enrichment process – is a function of the concentrations of the feedstock, the enriched output, and the depleted tailings; and is expressed in units which are so calculated as to be proportional to the total input (energy / machine operation time) and to the mass processed. Separative work is not energy.”

    For those of us for whom this is not obvious.

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  97. “Assuming a yellowcake cost of $66 per kg, a conversion to UF6 cost of $7.50, and 90 dollars per SWU, ThorCon’s levelized fuel cost is 0.53 cents per kilowatt-hour.”

    Ok, so another way to say it is this: ThorCon fuel costs what fuel costs at 5X typical LWR enrichment and the extra SWU offsets any manufacturing savings from being un-clad.

    We pay $12/kg for conversion, but that is prolly because we use oxide finished product instead of fluoride.

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  98. It’s time that supercritical CO2 heat engines are scaled up to hundred gigawatt size. There would be serious steel savings on the nonnuclear side, and waste heat would be cheaper to get rid of, since it could be rejected at a higher temperature.

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  99. No, not yet.
    It has to get closer to actually being ready to work. Once it’s under construction, and serious money has been invested in it, THEN they try to shut it down.

    I’m old enough to remember when wind power was always considered green. Now it fluctuates back and forth between saviour-of-the-world and migraine-inducing-ugly-bird-blender depending on if the system is evil enough to actually run at a profit.

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