Path to Scaling Up Molten Salt Nuclear With Green Ammonia and Thermal Storage

Thermal storage is a bridge to Molten-Salt Reactors. They can be set up rapidly and cheaply and they are an off-the-shelf item. They can use wasted curtailed “renewable” power, and might even be paid to take the power.

Thermal storage allows us to learn how to make big hot corrosive things that take on and put out huge amounts of energy – thermal storage is a molten-salt reactor without the moderator and fuel.

Overbuilding solar and wind energy creates an abundance of electricity during daylight hours. Curtailing power means shutting off or disconnecting solar and wind power when they generate more than the electrical grid can handle.

California alone generates a lot of solar and wind power that has to be curtailed. At least 34,000 megawatt hours needs to be curtailed every month and some months (March to May) can go as high as 550,000 megawatt hours per month. Sometimes, during the middle of the day, California’s renewable resources can generate more electricity than is needed. During these periods of surplus energy, the ISO’s (Independent system operators) market automatically reduces the production of energy from renewable resources, or “curtail” generation. In rare instances, when economic bids from generators are insufficient, ISO operators manually curtail production to maintain the balance between supply and demand.

While curtailment is an acceptable operational tool, as increasing amounts of renewable resources, oversupply conditions are expected to occur more often. The ISO is seeking solutions to avoid or reduce the amount of curtailment of renewable power to maximize the use of clean energy sources.

The goal is to get to less than 1 dollar per kilogram hydrogen. This requires under $2 a watt construction cost for energy and a supply of 600 degree celsius heat.

The presenter is working on a 385-ton-per-day hydrogen electrolyzer. There is a need for a lot of pure water to make this work.

Reverse osmosis desalination is main commercial system and new resin bed molecular sieves to get the billions of tons of pure water to feed large scale hydrogen electrolyzers.

SOURCES- Thorium Alliance, California ISO
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

12 thoughts on “Path to Scaling Up Molten Salt Nuclear With Green Ammonia and Thermal Storage”

  1. The same salt loop storage system would be a great add for any urban district steam heating system. Dump waste electrons into heat, use it to deliver steam later.

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  2. Not all desalination is seawater.

    Texas has desalination plants for ground water. I don’t know if the brine is geologically injected or evaporated.

    Every coal plant and many oil fields also produce brine. It’s typically evaporated or injected.

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  3. 550,000 MWhr of curtailment per month only sounds like a big number. I suppose that here in CA due to our overreliance on variable solar that it will only go up so yes lets use our solar PV to heat salt but lets not pretend that PV->hot salt->turbine is efficient.

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  4. Developing LFTR technology 50 years ago would have cut the legs off of Putler and the the oil kingdoms.

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  5. Hi Brian. Just randomly leaving a comment to say thanks for the news stories this past couple of weeks. Interesting reading that would have past me by otherwise, and theres more to the future than just Tesla and Twitter.

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  6. Funny how we espouse coporate structures over neccesity and call it economics. Ffs this is just a description of entrentchment over facility.

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    • There are more uses for energy than turning on the lights in your house.

      If you care about decarbonization then you really need to think very hard about the difficulty involved in decarbonizing process heat. Process heat is *heat* that is used to help with chemical reactions on an industrial scale. It is a big deal if you like things like food, plastic, medicine, water, etc.

      Using solar->heat or wind->heat is horrible and wasteful. Nuclear->heat is great but only works for higher temperature reactors.

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  7. Reverse osmosis for this application might not be optimal.

    Thermally driven desalination systems can use heat instead of electricity for most of their energy input. And they produce water with about zero total dissolved solids. This is better for electrolyzer life. RO just reduce salinity, not eliminate.

    At the end of the day – though – the biggest problem with nuclear plants is regulations.

    No amount of technology can fix pathological regulations.

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    • I think there’s no particular reason that thermally driven desalinization should be inefficient; Sure, the phase change soaks up a lot of energy, but you get it back when you condense again, and a proper counterflow system would keep the losses minimal. The nice thing about distillation is that it doesn’t require finicky membranes subject to fouling.

      I do like the idea of working out the technical problems of dealing with hot salts without the NRC mucking up the works, so we’d have that tech in hand if any sanity returned.

      Reply

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