Indonesia’s state company PT PAL Indonesia signed an agreement with next-generation molten salt nuclear energy company Thorcon International Pte Ltd for a development study and construction of a 500-megawatt reactor.
Thorcon still needs to raise more funds to build the reactor and the Indonesian government has not officially approved the reactor project. PAL Indonesia is a state-backed ship building company that is willing to work with Thorcon.
The Thorcon reactor can be mass-produced at 100 Gigawatts of nuclear power per year. This would be the entire US supply of nuclear reactors that currently exist. Every 5 years, the entire current world supply of nuclear reactors could be equaled. Within 14 years the entire US electricity production could be converted to nuclear power. All of the coal and natural gas in the US could be replaced in ten years (5 years for the first and completing 100-gigawatts per year.
The molten salt nuclear reactor will be built onto a floating ship. The 174×66 meters floating facility is expected to be built by Daewoo Shipyard & Marine Engineering in South Korea.
PAL Indonesia, which makes naval warships and commercial vessels, will build the reactor and supporting components designed by Thorcon.
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 is a liquid-fuel fission power plant, under development in the US, to be built in a far-east shipyard, then floated to Indonesia, with testing starting in 2023-2025. It generates emission-free electric power, cheaper even than from a coal-fired plant. Its full-time electric power will improve developing nations’ economies and lifestyles, while also dissuading them from burning fossil fuels which emit CO2.
New energy is being mainly built in Asia (China, India, South and South East Asia) and the developing world. There is very little net new power being built in the USA, Europe, and Japan. Thorcon logically will focus on certification for markets where power is actually being built.
ThorCon’s genesis is in ship production. Eight oil supertanker ships were 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.
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.
Thorcon Potential Global Impact to help developing world and climate
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.
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