ThorCon demonstration plant’s safety and economics case are being studied by Indonesia Ministry of Energy in conjunction with Indonesia electric utility PLN. The study started in January, 2019 and should be completed at the end of next month. Recommendations, will be presented to the President of Indonesia.
Ideally, if the President of Indonesia approves the project at the end of this year, then by the end of 2024, a 500 MWe molten salt reactor could be connected to the Indonesian power grid and generating commercial power. The first reactor should cost less than $1 billion and a follow-on three billion agreement would then see another 3 gigawatts of commercial nuclear power by about 2030.
The ThorCon reactors are designed to be built using shipyard manufacturing technology by designers who have built modular ships at shipyards. They will use standard and cheap thermal generators used at coal plants.
The systems have passive quadruple and triple redundant safety systems.
2020-2025 – Phase 1 is to build and test it with step by step commissioning, ending in a type license for future power plants.
2026-2030 – Phase 2 is shipyard production of ThorCon plants to provide an additional 3 GW of cheap, reliable electric power.
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 turbine generator 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.
Design. Much of the design phase has been completed, computationally modeled, expressed in 2D drawings and 3D CAD models, and shared with potential suppliers. Suppliers’ cost estimates for future production versions are compatible with company estimates of electricity production costs of 3 cents/kWh prior to profits and government fees.
Pre-fission construction. The company will build a pre-fission test facility (PTF) at full scale, including the components of the fission island and the thermal power conversion chain. The fuel salt will not contain enriched uranium and will not sustain a chain reaction to generate power. The components will be brought up to operating temperatures using electric heating. The absence of radioactivity allows intrusive instrumentation, direct observation, and internal access to components.
Pre-fission testing. Extensive testing will include operating pumps at full temperatures and pressures, freeze valve drains to drain tanks, actuation of shutdown rods, and instrumentation. Engineers will measure thermal expansion, confirm heat transfer rates, verify thermal hydraulics characteristics, test sensors, transfer molten salts between the Pot and fuel casks. System responses to simulated failures will be monitored closely.
ThorCon plans to make offshore 500-MWe thorium molten salt reactor constructed inside a ship’s hull. It will provide power from rivers and coastal areas. The ThorCon pot will operate at garden hose pressures of 3 times atmospheric pressure. It has one moving part—the pump impeller and uses a four-loop steam cycle with 45% efficiency.
Summary of ThorCon economic advantages
Liquid fuel: simple fuel handling, higher temperature efficiency, no cladding.
ORNL R&D. ORNL built two MSRs then designed MSDR guiding ThorCon.
No new technology: commercially available, affordable materials.
Shipyard construction: reduces cost, controls quality, scales to make 100 GW of power plants per year.
Small modular reactor: 250 MWe module has economy of scale and simplifies safety.
Molten salt reactor ran from 1965 to 1969 at US Oak Ridge National Lab
Full-scale prototype: No scale-up surprises or delays; only design once.
Maintenance by replacement: CanShip moves Can and fuel to recycling facilities.
Thorium: cuts uranium consumption, improves proliferation resistance.
Step by step commissioning: Indonesia will create final regulations as prototype is tested.
Complete power plant design: not just another fission reactor idea.
SOURCES- ThorCon, Youtube
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
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