Global race for transformative molten salt nuclear includes Bill Gates and China

Molten Salt nuclear fission reactors can deliver 99% of the promised benefits from nuclear fusion but are closer to being developed.

Unlike Nuclear fusion which has never had net generation of power, molten salt nuclear fission power had 2.5 megawatts of net power generation from a US nuclear prototype back in the 1960s. The US government had major work on molten salt nuclear reactors form the 1950s through the 1970s.

There is now a multi-billion race from many US companies and China and Canada and European countries to develop molten salt nuclear power.

* Molten salt reactors can produce one thousand times lower volume of radioactive waste of existing nuclear reactors because of deep burn. More complete conversion of the nuclear fuel. The unburned uranium and plutonium can be used and what is left would be products with half-lives of 100 years or less.
* Molten salt reactors can have designs that are proof against nuclear meltdowns
* The chinese reactors could use thorium. China has some of the world’s largest reserves of the thorium metal.
* Molten salt reactors can be lower cost than coal and natural gas
* Molten salt reactors could be factory mass produced or mass produced at shipyards to scale to 100 gigawatts per year of production.
* They can be smaller and enable a completely nuclear navy and long duration drones and massive power for spacecraft craft and space stations

There are many companies, countries and designs in the race but there will be multiple winners. China will build and buy their own reactors for strategic reasons. Various countries will buy the winning designs for energy production that are lower cost.

China’s $3.3 billion projects

Both Chinese test reactors will be underground and the heat they generate will reach 12 megawatts. The heat will be channeled to a power generation plant, several factories and a desalination plant by the lake to produce electricity, hydrogen, industrial chemicals, drinking water and minerals. After the experiment, China will move on to commercial or military use of the technology on a larger scale.

China also plans to use these reactors which can be a hundred times or more compact than existing pressure water nuclear fission reactors to make all of their navy nuclear powered and for large long duration drones.

“We are now developing new materials for warships. The materials must come with relatively low cost for mass production and they must be compact and light, otherwise the reactor won’t fit in a ship.

Chen Fu, a thermal physicist at the Harbin Institute of Technology involved in the development of new power generation systems for China’s navy, said the heat generated by a thorium molten salt reactor could be perfect to help generate power on a warship.

A military drone researcher in Beijing said a molten salt reactor could be used on a new generation of large, endurance drones operating at very high altitudes because it could be made very small and its operation did not require water.

Bill Gates and a leading US energy company Southern Company

TerraPower is backed by Bill Gates and is developing molten salt reactors. Southern Company, a leading energy company in the United States, is partnering with TerraPower to develop a molten chloride fast reactor (MCFR) that uses liquid salts as both a coolant and fuel.

They expect to begin testing in a $20 million test loop facility starting in 2019. The team is also scaling up their salt manufacturing process for testing in the loop. Data generated from the test loop will be used to validate thermal hydraulics and safety analysis codes for licensing of the reactor.

Southern Company and TerraPower plan to develop and license a test reactor before developing a 1,100-megawatt prototype reactor by 2030.

Bill Gates has a joint Venture with a chinese nuclear company on a traveling wave nuclear fission reactor. This is not a molten salt reactor but a different modular nuclear reactor. They hope to a have a prototype working by 2025.

Terrestrial Energy – Integrated MSR (IMSR) in Canada and USA

The Terrestrial Energy Integral MSR is also based on the MSR Experiment but has been modified to have a more sealed, passive approach. The design team is based in Canada with international involvement and support.

In June 2017, Terrestrial began a feasibility study for the siting of the first commercial IMSR at Canadian Nuclear Laboratories’ Chalk River site. It has also said it intends to submit an application to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a design certification or construction permit in late 2019.

Terrestrial plans to bring IMSR power plants to market in the 2020s.

Terrestrial Energy is developing a 190 megawatt small modular molten salt reactor that will cost less than $1 billion to build. This will result in kilowatt-per-hour costs of less than 5 cents, a price competitive with power from natural gas.

Terrestrial Energy of Canada has signed a contract for technical services with the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Karlsruhe, Germany. JRC will perform confirmatory studies of the fuel and primary coolant salt mixture for Terrestrial’s Integrated Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR).

Recently, Terrestrial Energy Inc.’s (TEI) announced completion of the first phase of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission’s (CNSC) pre-licensing vendor design review.

They submitted the Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) design to CNSC in the fall of 2016, taking the first step in a several step process leading toward the construction and operation of power generation units. As promised, the CNSC completed its non-binding review of the design information within a year of the application submission.

ThorCon working with Indonesia on a ship based design mass producible at shipyards

ThorCon is a graphite-moderated thermal spectrum molten salt reactor that will produce 250 MWe power. It will be cheaper than coal energy. Coal is 5 cents per kilowatt hour and Thorcon will be 3 cents per kilowatt-hour. The basic concept is similar to the MSRE (Molten Salt Reactor Experiment) in ORNL which was built and operated in the 1960s.

Thorcon is working with Indonesia and could have its first 1 GW commercial unit in 4-6 years.

ThorCon reactor is in a Can, which is simple and safe

• Safety is intrinsic from physics, not add-on safety systems; overheating stops chain reaction.
• Any break will drain reactor fuel to cold shutdown fuel salt drain tank.
• Decay heat is removed by silo cooling wall continuous passive water circulation, even in power blackout.
• Radioactive fuel salt at low, garden-hose pressure can’t disperse in catastrophe.
• Fluoride salt chemically locks up hazardous fission products iodine-131, cesium-137, strontium-90.
• Can operates for four years, then cools down for four years, and then is changed out.
• Each power module has two Cans housed in silos.
• Liquid fission plant comprises 1 to 4 power modules of 557 MW (thermal) generating 250 MW (electric).
• Four freeze valves will be used to ensure the passive shutdown in case of overheating

Super Low cost and mass production from today’s ship yards

ThorCon avoids three costly LWR issues: low temperature, high pressure, solid fuel.
• Thanks to high temperature, ThorCon uses the same, competitively-sourced, $500 / kW supercritical steam turbinegenerator as a modern coal plant.
• Thanks to low pressure, ThorCon avoids reinforced concrete mausoleum and 9-inch-thick forgings.
• Thanks to liquid fuel, ThorCon can move fuel around with a pump. No exacting fuel pin fabrication. No complex reshuffling refueling systems.

Elysium molten chloride salt fast reactor

The Elysium Molten Chloride Salt Fast Reactor (MCSFR) is state-of-the-art in its design. Elysium’s technology is unique as it can provide base-load and clean power while addressing the current issues in the nuclear power industry. Based on demonstrated technology in the 1960s, Elysium has adapted and improved the molten salt reactor design for commercial deployment. In addition, the Elysium reactor has the ability to consume spent nuclear fuel and weapons waste transforming it into useful energy.

The Elysium MCSFR will be built utilizing existing code-qualified materials and relies on natural processes. Elysium is simplifying engineering systems saving cost with natural techniques for passive operation and safety.

Everything that Elysium is choosing is to only use what is qualified and working at this time.

The design is barely critical at all times. The flow rate of material controls the power output.

One reactor vessel for all sizes of power plants and power levels.

More piping, more pumps and more heat exchangers increase the power level.

The Loop reactor will be the easiest to get approved in the USA.
The modular reactor will be most efficient and maintainable in the long run.
The Integral reactor will need more work for maintenance. The Terrestrial energy design is integral and will have the entire maintainable section designed to be removed or redundant.

Seaborg a reactor that can fit on a truck

Seaborg is the largest reactor design start-up in Europe. They have a design for a molten salt reactor that is ten times smaller than the Terrestrial Energy IMSR. It would 20 to 30 times smaller than an existing pressure water nuclear reactor for submarines.

Seaborg CUBE reactor can use spent nuclear fuel (SNF) by adding thorium as a catalyst. The CUBE as a waste burner. Current conventional reactors use about 4% of the uranium fuel rods. This is because they use Uranium 235 and cannot use the Uranium 238.

One of the designs fits in a half-length 20 foot shipping container
35 ton MSR Game changer in SMR-MSR size:
cuboid of 2.4 meters by 2.4 meters x 6 meters, and 30 tons Development

Timeline aligned with standard IAEA reactor development method
• 2014-2016: Pre-conceptual Design Phase 1
• 2017-2018: Pre-conceptual Design Phase 2; 1.5 Million Euros
• 2019-2020: Conceptual Design Phase; 10 Million Euros
• 2021-2024 Technical Design Phase; 50 Million Euros
• Ready to build reactor blueprints

Delivered cost for 250 MW thermal MSR in 2025 in the $50 Million to $70 Million depending upon manufacturing scale. They are working towards a 50 MW thermal pilot plant and then would scale to 250 MW thermal for a commercial system.

91 thoughts on “Global race for transformative molten salt nuclear includes Bill Gates and China”

  1. The cost isn’t really the point.
    Burning more fuel means less waste.
    Less waste means less disposal storage, and shorter storage times.

    Reply
  2. NBF needs a technology and company tracking page. Where we can see what tech is advancing and what companies are overselling their ideas. I did this years back for new RAM technology and recently opened the file and googled all the companies. Only one was left and one other had been bought out by IBM. All the others went bust of just disappeared.

    Reply
  3. Americans can thank the military industrial folks for opting for the deadly fast breeder reactors in the 1960’s because they yielded enriched uranium for weapons, rather than the benign MSR developed & operated successfully at Oakridge labs….now here we are a half century later sucking hind teat behind the rest of the world in the development of these astonishingly safe and inexpensive energy reactors…what an enormous debacle and sham perpetuated on the American public

    Reply
  4. It will cost more and it will take longer than estimated to build the first prototype and the first production units. There are always unforeseeable issues. But it does have the potential to make nuclear power safer and cheaper so it should be explored.

    Reply
  5. Design it to be as cheap as possible to build. Calculate the cost of building then optimize it to be even cheaper. Get it so that Capacity plus Generation is cheaper than renewable otherwise forget about it.

    Reply
  6. NBF needs a technology and company tracking page. Where we can see what tech is advancing and what companies are overselling their ideas. I did this years back for new RAM technology and recently opened the file and googled all the companies. Only one was left and one other had been bought out by IBM. All the others went bust of just disappeared.

    Reply
  7. Americans can thank the military industrial folks for opting for the deadly fast breeder reactors in the 1960’s because they yielded enriched uranium for weapons rather than the benign MSR developed & operated successfully at Oakridge labs….now here we are a half century later sucking hind teat behind the rest of the world in the development of these astonishingly safe and inexpensive energy reactors…what an enormous debacle and sham perpetuated on the American public

    Reply
  8. It will cost more and it will take longer than estimated to build the first prototype and the first production units. There are always unforeseeable issues. But it does have the potential to make nuclear power safer and cheaper so it should be explored.

    Reply
  9. Design it to be as cheap as possible to build. Calculate the cost of building then optimize it to be even cheaper. Get it so that Capacity plus Generation is cheaper than renewable otherwise forget about it.

    Reply
  10. ɪ ɢᴇᴛ ᴘᴀɪᴅ ᴏᴠᴇʀ $60 ᴘᴇʀ ʜᴏᴜʀ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜ 2 ᴋɪᴅs ᴀᴛ ʜᴏᴍᴇ.I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless. Check it out here… >>► w­ww.Your70.c­om

    Reply
  11. Especially not true since the weapons plutonium was made in graphite moderated light water cooled reactors with a very short residence time and natural uranium.

    Reply
  12. Let me see: US military went for breeder reactors in the 1960s. Breeder reactors produce enriched uranium. MSR reactor implied to have been developed before these breeder reactors. MSRs said to be safe and inexpensive, without using the words “projected”, “should” and “hoped”. The “rest of the world” alleged to be secretly already using said reactors. I don’t think any single one of these is true.

    Reply
  13. Nice rehash of the last six months. Makes it sounds super exciting , but if you look at the job boards NO army of engineers is being hired for these efforts. also it was strange/sketchywhen TerraPower decided that they were going to diversify with MSR prior to finishing conceptual design on their fast breeder inaccurately referred to as “traveling wave”.

    Reply
  14. Oh the conspiracy! “Astonishing” “hind teat” It’s hard enough to work with clad fuel under Na&K, but at least the major components don’t get contaminated and engineering steels don’t react with Na or K. Steel components look brand new after years of operation in Na. Also you can store and spent fuel underwater “like normal”. Any arguments involving fuel species transmutation, breeding, etc. is spectrum dependent only and not dependent on the reactor type necessarily, thus invalid.

    Reply
  15. ɪ ɢᴇᴛ ᴘᴀɪᴅ ᴏᴠᴇʀ $60 ᴘᴇʀ ʜᴏᴜʀ ᴡᴏʀᴋɪɴɢ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ʜᴏᴍᴇ ᴡɪᴛʜ 2 ᴋɪᴅs ᴀᴛ ʜᴏᴍᴇ.I never thought I’d be able to do it but my best friend earns over 10k a month doing this and she convinced me to try. The potential with this is endless.Check it out here… >>► w­ww.Your70.c­om”

    Reply
  16. Especially not true since the weapons plutonium was made in graphite moderated light water cooled reactors with a very short residence time and natural uranium.

    Reply
  17. Let me see:US military went for breeder reactors in the 1960s.Breeder reactors produce enriched uranium.MSR reactor implied to have been developed before these breeder reactors.MSRs said to be safe and inexpensive without using the words projected”””” “”””should”””” and “”””hoped””””.The “”””rest of the world”””” alleged to be secretly already using said reactors.I don’t think any single one of these is true.”””

    Reply
  18. Nice rehash of the last six months. Makes it sounds super exciting but if you look at the job boards NO army of engineers is being hired for these efforts. also it was strange/sketchywhen TerraPower decided that they were going to diversify with MSR prior to finishing conceptual design on their fast breeder inaccurately referred to as traveling wave””.”””

    Reply
  19. Oh the conspiracy! Astonishing”” “”””hind teat”””” It’s hard enough to work with clad fuel under Na&K”””” but at least the major components don’t get contaminated and engineering steels don’t react with Na or K. Steel components look brand new after years of operation in Na. Also you can store and spent fuel underwater “”””like normal””””.Any arguments involving fuel species transmutation”” breeding etc. is spectrum dependent only and not dependent on the reactor type necessarily”” thus invalid.”””

    Reply
  20. Seriously though, devil’s advocate is necessary for any meaningful discussion . I’m glad we all understand fission, but it can’t be done fast and loose. Containment containment containment never hurt anybody bro. Good practice. Best practice. Don’t make any cleanup required or you will have egg on your face and stall progress. The development of fission needs to be done with the class and focus and the professionalism of a surgeon. I totally understand the allure of MSRs – i like the simplicity of the neutronics. Before i studied them more deeply due to popularity on this site, i thought they would be operated under vacuum pumps. The best minds that put development effort into MSRs bubble helium through the fluid and process that gas in a dedicated system. If people could simply understand the difficulty in operating that system they would be able to look past the simplicity in the neutronics and see why they (MSRs) have not been adopted. I say all of us with the willingness to work and dedicate the rest of my career to any solid design that gets built so that my effort is not for naught.

    Reply
  21. Good analysis. That is why I studied STEM; it makes sense but breaks down in real life (politics). I can’t think of any state park or outpost that could justify $20M (low) enrichment cost. Maybe Mars – they will need microwave popcorn on Mars – someday when musk/nixoN in a jar is POTUS.

    Reply
  22. It is not difficult to be cheaper than the real cost of wind and solar power. It is more difficult to be cheaper than coal or gas. But I suspect it is possible and I suspect that the regulatory authorities are the biggest problem. If the regulatory authorities transferred their attentions from nuclear and looked at the deplorable state of safety of many large dams, they would be doing everybody a service.

    Reply
  23. Dollars per Watt is more important than cost. And the best dollar per Watt is big, very big, reactors. Though there are instances where small is good…mostly large transport stuff or where there is some risk power could be cut off or anywhere very high latitudes where there may be months without sunshine. If the environment is very important, but isolated, a small footprint reactor might also be good. Hard to come up with a good example though. We usually just set places aside that are special and designate them national parks, state parks, or reserves, or something like that. They really don’t need much electric power. The Moon/Mars might be a good fit. I like solar for the Moon. But Mars…who knows?

    Reply
  24. Cheaper than coal and natural gas when you calculate the costs of pollution. That’s before you calculate the billions dead in a century from global warming. BTW the perma-frost has started melting.

    Reply
  25. Seriously though devil’s advocate is necessary for any meaningful discussion . I’m glad we all understand fission but it can’t be done fast and loose. Containment containment containment never hurt anybody bro. Good practice. Best practice. Don’t make any cleanup required or you will have egg on your face and stall progress. The development of fission needs to be done with the class and focus and the professionalism of a surgeon. I totally understand the allure of MSRs – i like the simplicity of the neutronics. Before i studied them more deeply due to popularity on this site i thought they would be operated under vacuum pumps. The best minds that put development effort into MSRs bubble helium through the fluid and process that gas in a dedicated system. If people could simply understand the difficulty in operating that system they would be able to look past the simplicity in the neutronics and see why they (MSRs) have not been adopted. I say all of us with the willingness to work and dedicate the rest of my career to any solid design that gets built so that my effort is not for naught.

    Reply
  26. Good analysis. That is why I studied STEM; it makes sense but breaks down in real life (politics). I can’t think of any state park or outpost that could justify $20M (low) enrichment cost. Maybe Mars – they will need microwave popcorn on Mars – someday when musk/nixoN in a jar is POTUS.

    Reply
  27. It is not difficult to be cheaper than the real cost of wind and solar power. It is more difficult to be cheaper than coal or gas. But I suspect it is possible and I suspect that the regulatory authorities are the biggest problem.If the regulatory authorities transferred their attentions from nuclear and looked at the deplorable state of safety of many large dams they would be doing everybody a service.

    Reply
  28. Dollars per Watt is more important than cost. And the best dollar per Watt is big very big reactors. Though there are instances where small is good…mostly large transport stuff or where there is some risk power could be cut off or anywhere very high latitudes where there may be months without sunshine. If the environment is very important but isolated a small footprint reactor might also be good. Hard to come up with a good example though. We usually just set places aside that are special and designate them national parks state parks or reserves or something like that. They really don’t need much electric power. The Moon/Mars might be a good fit. I like solar for the Moon. But Mars…who knows?

    Reply
  29. I don’t disagree with any of what you said. As I understand it the three things that MSR reactors bring to the party are the ability to burn almost all of the fuel, the ability to kill the reactor by pulling a plug and they work without a high pressure containment vessel. It makes the old LW reactors seem like antiquated dinosaurs or, if you prefer, white elephants.

    Reply
  30. This sounds great for a gid plant. What if you dope these salts in the ocean? Say when a sip or sub sinks. Or how about when your drone hits the ground and splatters every where? There are going to be lots of different decay products in the salt. Also would a drone or ship be a breeder and would that make its material more toxic?

    Reply
  31. Cheaper than coal and natural gas when you calculate the costs of pollution. That’s before you calculate the billions dead in a century from global warming. BTW the perma-frost has started melting.

    Reply
  32. I don’t disagree with any of what you said. As I understand it the three things that MSR reactors bring to the party are the ability to burn almost all of the fuel the ability to kill the reactor by pulling a plug and they work without a high pressure containment vessel. It makes the old LW reactors seem like antiquated dinosaurs or if you prefer white elephants.

    Reply
  33. This sounds great for a gid plant. What if you dope these salts in the ocean? Say when a sip or sub sinks. Or how about when your drone hits the ground and splatters every where? There are going to be lots of different decay products in the salt. Also would a drone or ship be a breeder and would that make its material more toxic?

    Reply
  34. Moltex Energy’s fuel salt in tubes design does not need to sparge helium through (combined) fuel and coolant salt as do all other MSR designs. I think they basically reached some of the same conclusions as you and found a neat way to design around this problem. w­ww.moltexenergy.c­om/learnmore/An_Introduction_Moltex_Energy_Technology_Portfolio.pdf “Generic Molten Salt Reactor Challenges: 2.1.Fission products and fission throughout the reactor system. Historically, all molten salt reactor designs have mixed the fuel and coolant as one. All fission products (about a third of the periodic table of elements) therefore circulate through the plant, depositing on surfaces, creating reactivity perturbations, or introducing complex corrosion behaviour. This makes component specification and chemistry management extremely difficult. The fuel/coolant mix is also extremely radioactive with strong gamma emissions at the kW per litre level. As it is circulating through the plant it must be assumed to have the potential to leak. 2.4.Off gassing needs active management. Gaseous fission products are produced continuously and if salt chemistry is not appropriately controlled is a source of volatile radioactive iodine. This require systems to take the gasses out of the fuel salt and manage them. This has been done once in the 1960s but caused problems and will require extensive research before commercialisation. ” “Solutions with Static Fuelled MSRs (Stable Salt Reactors): The Stable Salt Reactor boasts all the advantages of a generic MSR and overcomes the above challenges as follows: 3.1.The engineering complexity of pumping a highly radioactive fuel is avoided The nuclear material is contained in fuel assemblies in the core like all other reactors in operation. Moltex has granted international patents on the use of molten salt fuel in fuel assemblies. Standard industrial pumps and vessels can be used for the low radioactivity separate coolant salt. Fewer parts are required. 3.

    Reply
  35. Lots more people die when it cold than die when it is ht. What convincing evidence do you have that man-made global warming is real and dangerous? As far as I can make out, the evidence does not exist. If you have please let me know. Don’t bother with computer models. They are not evidence!

    Reply
  36. My money is on none of the MSR designs mentioned. Moltex Energy has the most cost competitive design and one that uses parts currently in production. It can be prototyped quickly. Transatomic Power is another very good design, using a non-carbon moderator and advanced reactor container metal. Although many designs can employ Thorium, it is avoided because it produces plutonium during its burn cycle, a no-no with respect to proliferation concerns. I doubt that Bill Gates is even aware of this negative.

    Reply
  37. Moltex Energy’s fuel salt in tubes design does not need to sparge helium through (combined) fuel and coolant salt as do all other MSR designs. I think they basically reached some of the same conclusions as you and found a neat way to design around this problem.w­ww.moltexenergy.c­om/learnmore/An_Introduction_Moltex_Energy_Technology_Portfolio.pdfGeneric Molten Salt Reactor Challenges:2.1.Fission products and fission throughout the reactor system.Historically all molten salt reactor designs have mixed the fuel and coolant as one. All fission products(about a third of the periodic table of elements) therefore circulate through the plant depositing onsurfaces creating reactivity perturbations” or introducing complex corrosion behaviour. This makescomponent specification and chemistry management extremely difficult. The fuel/coolant mix is alsoextremely radioactive with strong gamma emissions at the kW per litre level. As it is circulatingthrough the plant it must be assumed to have the potential to leak.2.4.Off gassing needs active management.Gaseous fission products are produced continuously and if salt chemistry is not appropriatelycontrolled is a source of volatile radioactive iodine. This require systems to take the gasses out of thefuel salt and manage them. This has been done once in the 1960s but caused problems and will requireextensive research before commercialisation. “”””””Solutions with Static Fuelled MSRs (Stable Salt Reactors):The Stable Salt Reactor boasts all the advantages of a generic MSR and overcomes the abovechallenges as follows:3.1.The engineering complexity of pumping a highly radioactive fuel is avoidedThe nuclear material is contained in fuel assemblies in the core like all other reactors in operation.Moltex has granted international patents on the use of molten salt fuel in fuel assemblies. Standardindustrial pumps and vessels can be used for the low radioactivity separate coolant salt. F”

    Reply
  38. Lots more people die when it cold than die when it is ht. What convincing evidence do you have that man-made global warming is real and dangerous? As far as I can make out the evidence does not exist. If you have please let me know. Don’t bother with computer models. They are not evidence!

    Reply
  39. My money is on none of the MSR designs mentioned. Moltex Energy has the most cost competitive design and one that uses parts currently in production. It can be prototyped quickly. Transatomic Power is another very good design using a non-carbon moderator and advanced reactor container metal. Although many designs can employ Thorium it is avoided because it produces plutonium during its burn cycle a no-no with respect to proliferation concerns. I doubt that Bill Gates is even aware of this negative.

    Reply
  40. Is burning more of the fuel really a big deal? If, as the numbers seem to repeatedly say, the fuel cost of a modern nuke is about 0.5 cents/kWh, with a total cost of 5 to 7 cents. Then cutting fuel costs by a factor of 50%, or 95%, or even 100%, just isn’t going to move the needle compared to construction and manning costs. It’s like redesigning a car to minimise the amount of oil changed at each service. You are wasting effort that could go towards something that actually matters.

    Reply
  41. So you actually believe that transatomic’s zirc hydride moderator structure is going to hold up as well as graphite? Hmm. Nobody else does.

    Reply
  42. Wrote a reply, but it seems to have disappeared. Moltex Energy also think that off gassing and pumping highly radioactive salt are design challenges that haven’t been convincingly addressed by other MSR designs. They have put their fuel salt in tubes, where it moves only via convection, avoiding these issues: w­ww.moltexenergy.c­om/learnmore/An_Introduction_Moltex_Energy_Technology_Portfolio.pdf

    Reply
  43. Is burning more of the fuel really a big deal? If as the numbers seem to repeatedly say the fuel cost of a modern nuke is about 0.5 cents/kWh with a total cost of 5 to 7 cents. Then cutting fuel costs by a factor of 50{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} or 95{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} or even 100{22800fc54956079738b58e74e4dcd846757aa319aad70fcf90c97a58f3119a12} just isn’t going to move the needle compared to construction and manning costs.It’s like redesigning a car to minimise the amount of oil changed at each service. You are wasting effort that could go towards something that actually matters.

    Reply
  44. So you actually believe that transatomic’s zirc hydride moderator structure is going to hold up as well as graphite? Hmm. Nobody else does.

    Reply
  45. Wrote a reply but it seems to have disappeared. Moltex Energy also think that off gassing and pumping highly radioactive salt are design challenges that haven’t been convincingly addressed by other MSR designs. They have put their fuel salt in tubes where it moves only via convection avoiding these issues:w­ww.moltexenergy.c­om/learnmore/An_Introduction_Moltex_Energy_Technology_Portfolio.pdf”

    Reply
  46. As Gaucho says, for the first time that we know of, permafrost in parts of Siberia and Canada did not refreeze last winter as usual. The ice has been giving up multi-thousand year old prizes like Otzi the Ice Man, and the Siberian foal found recently. As a New Zealander, you should be aware that our largest glacier is turning into a lake, after surviving thousands of years of climate variation. The researchers on Antarctic glaciers claim they’re melting from underneath, in both West and East Antarctica, at an increasing rate. If that’s not dangerous, with the potential to drown about half the world’s major cities, what is ?

    Reply
  47. I like Moltex as well, because it has pruned off most of the novelty of molten salts, to get a design as near as possible to current water- or sodium-cooled reactors. To do so, they’ve abandoned some popular objectives, like breeding, and dodged problems like the need for on-line processing and for lithium enrichment. As Scaryjello says, though, Transatomic’s claims for zirconium hydride look dodgy, and they don’t seem to have put nearly as much work into corrosion control as Moltex has. Transatomic used to claim they’d use fissile a ‘..Thorium… is avoided because it produces plutonium during its burn cycle’ Quite the opposite. Thorium 232 has to absorb seven neutrons before it becomes plutonium 239, and at several stages along the way, it’s much more likely to fission than to fatten up.

    Reply
  48. As Gaucho says for the first time that we know of permafrost in parts of Siberia and Canada did not refreeze last winter as usual. The ice has been giving up multi-thousand year old prizes like Otzi the Ice Man and the Siberian foal found recently. As a New Zealander you should be aware that our largest glacier is turning into a lake after surviving thousands of years of climate variation. The researchers on Antarctic glaciers claim they’re melting from underneath in both West and East Antarctica at an increasing rate. If that’s not dangerous with the potential to drown about half the world’s major cities what is ?

    Reply
  49. I like Moltex as well because it has pruned off most of the novelty of molten salts to get a design as near as possible to current water- or sodium-cooled reactors. To do so they’ve abandoned some popular objectives like breeding and dodged problems like the need for on-line processing and for lithium enrichment. As Scaryjello says though Transatomic’s claims for zirconium hydride look dodgy and they don’t seem to have put nearly as much work into corrosion control as Moltex has. Transatomic used to claim they’d use fissile a ‘..Thorium… is avoided because it produces plutonium during its burn cycle’ Quite the opposite. Thorium 232 has to absorb seven neutrons before it becomes plutonium 239 and at several stages along the way it’s much more likely to fission than to fatten up.

    Reply
  50. Clearly the stumbling block for nuclear now is not fuel cost but build cost ( operational cost is probably a lot higher than it need be, as well.) The likes of Terrestrial, Thorcon and Moltex are primarily going for low build cost, which shouldn’t be hard with no need for a high pressure reactor vessel, or a massive containment – no water, so no steam in the nuclear island. Lower fuel use, and better efficiency from higher operating temperatures, is just a bonus. The two Ts get around corrosion licencing concerns by just throwing out the whole fuel circuit every few years, Moltex by using replaceable fuel tubes, same as a LWR. More complicated arrangements like the French fast neutron MSR, or the LFTR, might have better fuel usage, but will only be built after a lot more research. Which isn’t being done.

    Reply
  51. Clearly the stumbling block for nuclear now is not fuel cost but build cost ( operational cost is probably a lot higher than it need be as well.) The likes of Terrestrial Thorcon and Moltex are primarily going for low build cost which shouldn’t be hard with no need for a high pressure reactor vessel or a massive containment – no water so no steam in the nuclear island. Lower fuel use and better efficiency from higher operating temperatures is just a bonus. The two Ts get around corrosion licencing concerns by just throwing out the whole fuel circuit every few years Moltex by using replaceable fuel tubes same as a LWR. More complicated arrangements like the French fast neutron MSR or the LFTR might have better fuel usage but will only be built after a lot more research. Which isn’t being done.

    Reply
  52. meanwhile, plant Vogel is costing GA more than $50 billion. Could have invented a whole new source of nuclear power for the cost of that stupid thing.

    Reply
  53. meanwhile plant Vogel is costing GA more than $50 billion. Could have invented a whole new source of nuclear power for the cost of that stupid thing.

    Reply
  54. meanwhile, plant Vogel is costing GA more than $50 billion. Could have invented a whole new source of nuclear power for the cost of that stupid thing.

    Reply
  55. meanwhile plant Vogel is costing GA more than $50 billion. Could have invented a whole new source of nuclear power for the cost of that stupid thing.

    Reply
  56. meanwhile, plant Vogel is costing GA more than $50 billion. Could have invented a whole new source of nuclear power for the cost of that stupid thing.

    Reply
  57. Clearly the stumbling block for nuclear now is not fuel cost but build cost ( operational cost is probably a lot higher than it need be, as well.) The likes of Terrestrial, Thorcon and Moltex are primarily going for low build cost, which shouldn’t be hard with no need for a high pressure reactor vessel, or a massive containment – no water, so no steam in the nuclear island. Lower fuel use, and better efficiency from higher operating temperatures, is just a bonus. The two Ts get around corrosion licencing concerns by just throwing out the whole fuel circuit every few years, Moltex by using replaceable fuel tubes, same as a LWR.
    More complicated arrangements like the French fast neutron MSR, or the LFTR, might have better fuel usage, but will only be built after a lot more research. Which isn’t being done.

    Reply
  58. As Gaucho says, for the first time that we know of, permafrost in parts of Siberia and Canada did not refreeze last winter as usual. The ice has been giving up multi-thousand year old prizes like Otzi the Ice Man, and the Siberian foal found recently. As a New Zealander, you should be aware that our largest glacier is turning into a lake, after surviving thousands of years of climate variation.
    The researchers on Antarctic glaciers claim they’re melting from underneath, in both West and East Antarctica, at an increasing rate. If that’s not dangerous, with the potential to drown about half the world’s major cities, what is ?

    Reply
  59. I like Moltex as well, because it has pruned off most of the novelty of molten salts, to get a design as near as possible to current water- or sodium-cooled reactors. To do so, they’ve abandoned some popular objectives, like breeding, and dodged problems like the need for on-line processing and for lithium enrichment.
    As Scaryjello says, though, Transatomic’s claims for zirconium hydride look dodgy, and they don’t seem to have put nearly as much work into corrosion control as Moltex has. Transatomic used to claim they’d use fissile a
    ‘..Thorium… is avoided because it produces plutonium during its burn cycle’ Quite the opposite. Thorium 232 has to absorb seven neutrons before it becomes plutonium 239, and at several stages along the way, it’s much more likely to fission than to fatten up.

    Reply
  60. Is burning more of the fuel really a big deal?

    If, as the numbers seem to repeatedly say, the fuel cost of a modern nuke is about 0.5 cents/kWh, with a total cost of 5 to 7 cents. Then cutting fuel costs by a factor of 50%, or 95%, or even 100%, just isn’t going to move the needle compared to construction and manning costs.

    It’s like redesigning a car to minimise the amount of oil changed at each service. You are wasting effort that could go towards something that actually matters.

    Reply
  61. Wrote a reply, but it seems to have disappeared. Moltex Energy also think that off gassing and pumping highly radioactive salt are design challenges that haven’t been convincingly addressed by other MSR designs. They have put their fuel salt in tubes, where it moves only via convection, avoiding these issues:

    w­ww.moltexenergy.c­om/learnmore/An_Introduction_Moltex_Energy_Technology_Portfolio.pdf

    Reply
  62. Moltex Energy’s fuel salt in tubes design does not need to sparge helium through (combined) fuel and coolant salt as do all other MSR designs. I think they basically reached some of the same conclusions as you and found a neat way to design around this problem.

    w­ww.moltexenergy.c­om/learnmore/An_Introduction_Moltex_Energy_Technology_Portfolio.pdf

    “Generic Molten Salt Reactor Challenges:
    2.1.Fission products and fission throughout the reactor system.
    Historically, all molten salt reactor designs have mixed the fuel and coolant as one. All fission products
    (about a third of the periodic table of elements) therefore circulate through the plant, depositing on
    surfaces, creating reactivity perturbations, or introducing complex corrosion behaviour. This makes
    component specification and chemistry management extremely difficult. The fuel/coolant mix is also
    extremely radioactive with strong gamma emissions at the kW per litre level. As it is circulating
    through the plant it must be assumed to have the potential to leak.

    2.4.Off gassing needs active management.
    Gaseous fission products are produced continuously and if salt chemistry is not appropriately
    controlled is a source of volatile radioactive iodine. This require systems to take the gasses out of the
    fuel salt and manage them. This has been done once in the 1960s but caused problems and will require
    extensive research before commercialisation. ”

    “Solutions with Static Fuelled MSRs (Stable Salt Reactors):
    The Stable Salt Reactor boasts all the advantages of a generic MSR and overcomes the above
    challenges as follows:

    3.1.The engineering complexity of pumping a highly radioactive fuel is avoided
    The nuclear material is contained in fuel assemblies in the core like all other reactors in operation.
    Moltex has granted international patents on the use of molten salt fuel in fuel assemblies. Standard
    industrial pumps and vessels can be used for the low radioactivity separate coolant salt. Fewer parts
    are required.

    3.4.Off gassing is passive
    Because caesium and iodine gas are not emitted in significant quantities, non-return gas release vents
    can be used at the top of the fuel assemblies, so no pressure build up occurs in the fuel tube. The
    gases collect first in the upper plenum of the fuel tubes, then in the reactor gas containment and are
    only released to atmosphere in a controlled manner through operation of the containment airlocks.
    This mechanism ensures that highly radioactive decay products of xenon are retained in the fuel tubes
    and not released to atmosphere. “

    Reply
  63. Lots more people die when it cold than die when it is ht. What convincing evidence do you have that man-made global warming is real and dangerous? As far as I can make out, the evidence does not exist. If you have please let me know. Don’t bother with computer models. They are not evidence!

    Reply
  64. My money is on none of the MSR designs mentioned. Moltex Energy has the most cost competitive design and one that uses parts currently in production. It can be prototyped quickly. Transatomic Power is another very good design, using a non-carbon moderator and advanced reactor container metal. Although many designs can employ Thorium, it is avoided because it produces plutonium during its burn cycle, a no-no with respect to proliferation concerns. I doubt that Bill Gates is even aware of this negative.

    Reply
  65. I don’t disagree with any of what you said. As I understand it the three things that MSR reactors bring to the party are the ability to burn almost all of the fuel, the ability to kill the reactor by pulling a plug and they work without a high pressure containment vessel. It makes the old LW reactors seem like antiquated dinosaurs or, if you prefer, white elephants.

    Reply
  66. This sounds great for a gid plant. What if you dope these salts in the ocean? Say when a sip or sub sinks. Or how about when your drone hits the ground and splatters every where? There are going to be lots of different decay products in the salt. Also would a drone or ship be a breeder and would that make its material more toxic?

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  67. Cheaper than coal and natural gas when you calculate the costs of pollution. That’s before you calculate the billions dead in a century from global warming. BTW the perma-frost has started melting.

    Reply
  68. Seriously though, devil’s advocate is necessary for any meaningful discussion . I’m glad we all understand fission, but it can’t be done fast and loose. Containment containment containment never hurt anybody bro. Good practice. Best practice. Don’t make any cleanup required or you will have egg on your face and stall progress. The development of fission needs to be done with the class and focus and the professionalism of a surgeon. I totally understand the allure of MSRs – i like the simplicity of the neutronics. Before i studied them more deeply due to popularity on this site, i thought they would be operated under vacuum pumps. The best minds that put development effort into MSRs bubble helium through the fluid and process that gas in a dedicated system. If people could simply understand the difficulty in operating that system they would be able to look past the simplicity in the neutronics and see why they (MSRs) have not been adopted. I say all of us with the willingness to work and dedicate the rest of my career to any solid design that gets built so that my effort is not for naught.

    Reply
  69. Good analysis. That is why I studied STEM; it makes sense but breaks down in real life (politics).

    I can’t think of any state park or outpost that could justify $20M (low) enrichment cost. Maybe Mars – they will need microwave popcorn on Mars – someday when musk/nixoN in a jar is POTUS.

    Reply
  70. It is not difficult to be cheaper than the real cost of wind and solar power. It is more difficult to be cheaper than coal or gas. But I suspect it is possible and I suspect that the regulatory authorities are the biggest problem.

    If the regulatory authorities transferred their attentions from nuclear and looked at the deplorable state of safety of many large dams, they would be doing everybody a service.

    Reply
  71. Dollars per Watt is more important than cost. And the best dollar per Watt is big, very big, reactors. Though there are instances where small is good…mostly large transport stuff or where there is some risk power could be cut off or anywhere very high latitudes where there may be months without sunshine. If the environment is very important, but isolated, a small footprint reactor might also be good. Hard to come up with a good example though. We usually just set places aside that are special and designate them national parks, state parks, or reserves, or something like that. They really don’t need much electric power. The Moon/Mars might be a good fit. I like solar for the Moon. But Mars…who knows?

    Reply
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    Reply
  73. Let me see:
    US military went for breeder reactors in the 1960s.
    Breeder reactors produce enriched uranium.
    MSR reactor implied to have been developed before these breeder reactors.
    MSRs said to be safe and inexpensive, without using the words “projected”, “should” and “hoped”.
    The “rest of the world” alleged to be secretly already using said reactors.

    I don’t think any single one of these is true.

    Reply
  74. Nice rehash of the last six months. Makes it sounds super exciting , but if you look at the job boards NO army of engineers is being hired for these efforts. also it was strange/sketchywhen TerraPower decided that they were going to diversify with MSR prior to finishing conceptual design on their fast breeder inaccurately referred to as “traveling wave”.

    Reply
  75. Oh the conspiracy!

    “Astonishing”

    “hind teat”

    It’s hard enough to work with clad fuel under Na&K, but at least the major components don’t get contaminated and engineering steels don’t react with Na or K. Steel components look brand new after years of operation in Na. Also you can store and spent fuel underwater “like normal”.

    Any arguments involving fuel species transmutation, breeding, etc. is spectrum dependent only and not dependent on the reactor type necessarily, thus invalid.

    Reply
  76. NBF needs a technology and company tracking page. Where we can see what tech is advancing and what companies are overselling their ideas. I did this years back for new RAM technology and recently opened the file and googled all the companies. Only one was left and one other had been bought out by IBM. All the others went bust of just disappeared.

    Reply
  77. Americans can thank the military industrial folks for opting for the deadly fast breeder reactors in the 1960’s because they yielded enriched uranium for weapons, rather than the benign MSR developed & operated successfully at Oakridge labs….now here we are a half century later sucking hind teat behind the rest of the world in the development of these astonishingly safe and inexpensive energy reactors…what an enormous debacle and sham perpetuated on the American public

    Reply
  78. It will cost more and it will take longer than estimated to build the first prototype and the first production units. There are always unforeseeable issues. But it does have the potential to make nuclear power safer and cheaper so it should be explored.

    Reply
  79. Design it to be as cheap as possible to build. Calculate the cost of building then optimize it to be even cheaper. Get it so that Capacity plus Generation is cheaper than renewable otherwise forget about it.

    Reply

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