IET
Decrease font size
Increase font size
Topic Title: Molten Salt Thorium Reactor
Topic Summary: Pathways to building a UK Molten Salt Thorium Reactor
Created On: 19 October 2012 03:47 PM
Status: Read Only
Linear : Threading : Single : Branch
1 2 Next Last unread
Search Topic Search Topic
Topic Tools Topic Tools
View similar topics View similar topics
View topic in raw text format. Print this topic.
 19 October 2012 03:47 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

I have sent the following email to The Technology Strategy Board and cc'd to DECC, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Weinberg Foundation


I want to know who to contact to ask about setting up a research and
development programme to build manufacturing skills in the building and
development of Molten Salt Technologies that could later be used to build a Molten Salt Thorium Reactor.

It appears from discussions I have had following a talk given on the subject of Thorium Reactors at the Anglia Ruskin University recently that there is a lot of non-radioactive pre-cursor work that can be done that would be useful in the development of molten salt technologies, not just for Thorium nuclear reactors, but in other areas of waste management and manufacturing as well.

Would you be interested in helping support a workshop to help define what is needed form such pre-cursor work called "Pathways to building a UK Molten Salt Thorium Reactor"

For example: Preliminary research could concentrate on many non-nuclear aspects of using Molten Salts Reactors, such as chemical techniques required to remove fission products (using non-radioactive chemical analogues to start with), including slag formation and other types of density driven separation techniques, thermal convection studies, molten salt material pumping and handling, corrosion studies, developing radiation tolerant safety critical equipment, mathematical modelling, initial non-nuclear molten salt heating systems (electrical/electromagnetic/eddy current) etc.

This will require researchers in chemistry, chemical engineering, physics, material science, mechanical and electrical engineering, mathematical modelling, along with enough experienced support staff to define safe working practices and industrial experience and expertise.

Experienced nuclear engineers and physicists would then need to collect all this research data up, along with the historic experimental study data from Oak Ridge etc, to feed into the design of a new accelerator initiated/maintained molten salt Thorium development reactor. Some money would be required to bring international experts over to the UK as part of this design process.

(It is worth noting the possibility that there may be a major government
push towards Thorium Reactors in 4 to 10 years time, if the costs of
reactors, using probabilistic safety design methodologies, carry on rising as rapidly as they are at the moment; pressure to look at intrinsically safe reactor designs, including fail safe passive cooling of spent fuel, can only increase.)

I suppose the competition funding levels would be in the region of £100
million pounds to set up a molten salt technologies reserch and development institute where such work could be safely organised.

From the current distribution of experts the best location for such a
development institute will be in Liverpool or Manchester. Unfortunately
Sellafield would be a completely unsuitable location for such an institute,
due to its remote location and inadequate skills base and commercial
infra-structure.

I would expect that some of the funding for this could come from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority as the molten salt reactor has the potential to be the cheapest route to disposing of our plutonium stockpile. Given that they have recently spent £250 million on a state of the art research facility at Sellafield, I am sure they could spare £50 million or so to help establish a molten salt research facility. I fully expect private sector money and other government research funds could be leveraged in as well.

Let me know what you think. I understand there are people in the Nuclear Industry would remain unenthusiastic about this sort of research direction. I have met some of them and would be happy to meet with others to argue out the pros and cons of setting up such a research institute.

Best Regards,

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 20 October 2012 11:36 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

"Nuclear experts in Sheffield display united front in tackling Britain's radioactive waste"

http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/new...d-university-1.217640

"The conference centred on discussing and developing new ideas for the storage of nuclear waste and the possible corrosion of current storage methods. The symposium included brief presentations on topics such as the corrosion of current stainless steel storage containers, possible alternatives to GDF (Geological Disposal Facility) such as Deep Bore Holes and understanding the behaviour of plutonium in radioactive wastes."

Nuclear experts are now proposing a new solution to the problem of radioactive waste: Deep Bore Holes (this is as an alternative to plutonium disposal in a Geological Disposal Facility (GDF)).

Yes well done Nuclear Experts propose a solution that will be impossible to fix, if plutonium or other nasties start leaching into ground water.

I feel sorry for these Nuclear Experts, there is a such a large river of public billons constantly heading up to Sellafield, that it really must be a constant struggle to find new and creative ways of disposing of it, which at the same time look as if they are achieving something useful; they obviously all now agree that drilling Deep Bore Holes will be a potential gold rush for them in this regard.

Just in case you thought I just make this sort of thing up, only in the last week it was announced that another billion is due to be spent on infrastructure spending at Sellafield.

"Morgan Sindall beats Balfour to £1.1bn Sellafield contract"

"Work will include the the maintenance of steam and electricity generation, water supply, chemical storage and distribution, drainage networks and all transport infrastructure at the site."

http://www.constructionenquire...1-1bn-sellafield-job/

However there is only so much you can spend on manitaining a finite area of land, and its buildings; digging down obviously opens up a whole new frontier for them.


I have sent an email to Sheffield University to ask if there was any discussion of molten salt reactors at this event, and whether academics there would like to attend a workshop on "Pathways to building a UK Molten Salt Thorium Reactor".

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 20 October 2012 04:08 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



MAWilson

Posts: 48
Joined: 22 February 2006

James, It's inspiring that you have such dedication on the issue which is of strategic importance to the future of energy. Do you have good articles/journals or websites on the principles of the Molten Salt Thorium Reactor design apart from wekipedia, would love to read up more about it in my spare time.

My gut feel on the little I've read is the physics seem to be straight forward but the chemistry would be daunting in writing a safety case as you would have salts interacting with metals and potential for Environmental Assisted Corrosion. In that regard, would love to see a design document as to ascertain what is the life limiting aspect of the reactor design. It' s a shame the research was not able to be done thoroughly in the 70's due to nothing dumber than pure politics.
 20 October 2012 10:09 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

MAWilson,

See for example

http://www.aps.org/units/fps/n.../201101/hargraves.cfm

this webpage contains a link to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory document repository

http://www.energyfromthorium.com/pdf/

However my main worry in just relying on this information and other website information derived from it, is that the oral and practical knowledge of technicians associated with Oak Ridge Labs may not have been passed on fully in the academic papers and reports. The tacit knowledge of technicians is essential to the success of any endeavour like this. In my experience academics often undervalue these skill sets, and vastly overestimate their own, and thus large vital chunks of practical skill based knowledge can be missed out from the written record.

Because of the long period of time since the original experiments, and with safety regimes completely transformed and now much more formalised, I basically think we need to build up the practical and experimental skills of researchers and technicians from scratch with the use of analogous Molten Salt chemical systems first, so all these types of skill can be developed, recorded and demonstrated, prior to starting the time consuming process and huge expense of getting regulatory approval for the start up of a new type of nuclear reactor that the Office of Nuclear Regualtion (ONR) will be completely unfamiliar with.

My opinion is informed by my experiences in academia, industry and more recently from a long and very helpful discussion with an senior ONR inspector at a recent nuclear event I attended.

I hope this goes some way to answering your question. I don't think proceeding directly to a Molten Salt Thorium Reactor will work given the current UK regulatory environment. Some people may think the regulatory regime is wrong and then campaign politically to get a different regulatory regime in place specifically designed for these types of reactor. In my opinion this approach won't get anywhere without recent hard and verifiable engineering data, and a wide set of skills and processes which can be fully demonstated to the necessarily sceptical regulator.

It suggested to me that I change the name of workshop, perhaps it should be called "Developing the Pathway to a UK Molten Salt Thorium Reactor" instead.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 21 October 2012 12:02 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



drhirst

Posts: 46
Joined: 24 December 2002

James et al,
Before getting too excited about Thorium, can I recommend that you read this briefing:
http://www.jonathonporritt.com...20FINAL%203.7.12.pdf.

Of course, like everything on the topic, it comes from its own agenda, but the points it makes seem to be valid, and need addressing before it is appropriate to put resources into development.

James,
I share your concern about loss of skills, and I suspect it also troubles the military. They need real experts to design, build and operate their submarines, and their weapons, and this will be a lot more expensive (and a lot harder) if there is no civilian industry also in need of a lot of experts in the field. I fear this is a source of much of the policy enthusiasm for nuclear electricity.

The core societal need is for experts and research in managing the safe transmutation or disposal of waste (and surplus plutonium). Since we have a legacy problem that will be with us for generations, we do need to maintain nuclear expertise and capability. The special trick we need to pull off is to do this while curbing the over-active imaginations (and channelling the idealism) of those who do devote their careers to this field.
It is possible that what we know about thorium and molten salt reactors will help in this, but, to me, this would be a distraction from our most vital need.

David Hirst

-------------------------
David Hirst
 21 October 2012 04:53 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

David,

I am avocating a four year non-nuclear programme of molten salt reactor pre-cursor research at the £100 million funding level. This isn't a very big change in the allocation of uk public resources.

Given that we are poring billions into Sellafield, a billion into CCS, billions into ITER, and billions into off-shore windfarms (before they have been properly engineered for that particular task) - I completely refute that a £100 million project will be a distraction to our most vital need (whatever that is, presumably low-carbon energy generation at economically competitive prices).

All it is, is a 4 year programme of research and development (that doesn't need to commit us to further spending if the processes and technologies genuinely prove to be too difficult and too expensive as Oliver Tickell is suggesting).

I now believe the problems associated with the development of the thorium molten salt reactor will ultimately prove much easier and much cheaper to solve than getting CCS or Nuclear Fusion to work.

Lots of other people disagree with me and seem to believe that CCS and nuclear fusion are much more urgently worth persuing; both technologies are now inline for billions of pounds in public support in future years.

I just want a very slight adjustment to funding support; £900 million to CCS with £100 million to my proposed molten salt technologies development programme, would achieve this balance just fine. Other alternatives are available, money from the NDA for example.

In fact this programme will in part provide real engineering data in respect of some of the concerns that Oliver Tickell raises in his briefing. He should welcome this, we will be able to experimentally determine. whether what he is saying is either a true reflection of reality or a false one.

See Oliver Tickell's Thorium briefing

http://www.jonathonporritt.com...%20FINAL%203.7.12.pdf


Oliver Tickell does raise a few concerns about the non-nuclear chemical aspects of molten salt reactors, but he could equally say the same thing about any nasty and corrosive chemical processes. There are lots of nastily corrosive chemical processes, that have been made to work through engineering effort, and which the modern world now depends; I have worked in many chemical factories and seen such processes for myself.

Oliver Tickell basically highlights that there are huge engineering challenges ahead and I agree with him on this. However we train engineers to expressly work on engineering challenges and not be too daunted by them, as he obviously is.

In regards to the military...

As far as I can tell the military is now looking after its own expertise base in the realm of nuclear technology, as recently has been shown by its restuctured investment in Rolls Royce's submarine Nuclear propulsion division.

http://www.rolls-royce.com/mar...uclear_propulsion.jsp

I don't think the military is asking the civilian nuclear industry to march to its tune anymore. I think military learders are now actively changing their strategic thinking to meet the modern economic realities of British life; its about time civilian nuclear leaders attempted to do the same.

The nuclear proliferation problem...

The problem of proliferation will have to be solved somehow I agree, and all I know is that it cannot be solved by going to war. It is a political and diplomatic problem as much as an engineering problem.

The question becomes: Should the engineers not bother to develop further nuclear energy technologies because ultimately new discoveries might mean the politicians of the world will have to come up with new agreements over the use and abuse of these nuclear technologies (just like they will have to over future biotechnologies and chemical technologies)?

Obviously Oliver Ticklell's answer to this is an emphatic no, that the potential abuses of these new technologies will be too scary to contemplate; that we should all turn away from trying to exploit the potential benefits of technological change because the potential dis-benefits will always remain as an insurmountable hazard.

Technological advancement has created lots of problems as well as huge benefits. We always need to look for new ways maximising the benefits of technologies, whilst at the same time minimising their inherent problems.

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 22 October 2012 10:43 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Sheffield Uni. have just informed me that the list of talks from the meeting on "Research Frontiers in Radioactive Waste Management" is available here. Apparently abstracts will be published shortly.

http://www.shef.ac.uk/polopoly...3-10-october-2012.pdf

Deep geological borehole disposal is described here.

http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?storyCode=2055862

"The borehole, which need be no wider than 0.27m, is sunk into the granitic basement to a depth of 5 or 6km and fully cased. The Pu-containing granite cylinders are emplaced over the lowermost 2 or 3km of the hole. Finally the borehole is backfilled with crushed host rock and sealed. In this concept the Pu is in thermodynamic equilibrium with its host phase which, in turn, is in equilibrium with the enclosing granite cylinder. The intra-rock fluids which will eventually seep from the host rock into the borehole will have equilibrated with the host rock over many millions of years and hence will also be in equilibrium with the granite cylinders. This multiple equilibrium should ensure that no Pu leaches out into the borehole fluids and so remains safely contained indefinitely. This is essentially the same principle that has kept the actinides in natural uranium deposits contained for hundreds of millions of years."

At the moment Karl Travis and co seem to have got as far as creating a heat flow model.

.Gibb, F. G. F., K. P. Travis, N. A. McTaggart, and D. Burley (2008), 'A model for heat flow in deep borehole disposals of high-level nuclear waste', J. Geophys. Res., 113, B05201, doi:10.1029/2007JB005081

http://www.shef.ac.uk/materials/staff/kptravis

This all appears to be academic conjecture at the moment, based on some limited and idealised modelling work; I am not sure how they would go about proving the robustness of their thesis, in real fractured rock formations, prior to any irreversible actions taking place.

No discussion of Thorium Molten Salt Reactors at this event.

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 22 October 2012 12:02 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Letter just written to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA)

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am looking to encourage government to spend £100 million over 4 years (£25 million a year) to fund a Molten Salt Research and Development Facility. The research would initially be non-nuclear work using chemical analogues, in place of the expected nuclear fission products present in a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor, or indeed a plutonium waste processing Molten Salt Reactor.

It would be designed as an inter-disciplinary centre involving chemists, mechanical engineers, physicists, material scientists, mathematical modellers, computer scientists, nuclear engineering designers etc. (with the order of 30 staff + 15 PhD students + a range of industrial collaborators and preferred suppliers).

I anticipate it would be based in near Liverpool or Manchester or Sheffield.

I understand that you have recently built a £250 million research and development facility in Sellafield, to be part used by the NNL. Do you have any publicly available documents that show a summary of the detailed business case and rational you used to decide where to site this facility. I would like to see how you have rated it against other research and development locations in the UK.

Given the potential uses for Molten Salt technologies in plutonium waste management, I would hope that a substantial part of the funds to set it up could come from the NDA, say half, £50 million over 4 years.

I anticipate that the other $50 million could come from the £1 billion CCS budget or indeed the large Nuclear Fusion research budget or some other DECC or business department budget. Let me know if this sort of proposal in any way chimes with your thoughts on how to fund research on future options for handing our nuclear waste stockpiles.

I hope to encourage a funding decision on this by the middle of next year. The plan is to put a load of clever people together in one place give them some research and development goals and see what happens. I would hope that you would wish to contribute to these research and development goals, in proportion to the money you invest into the facility.

If the research directions prove promising the idea would be to start the process of applying for a nuclear license towards the end of this four year period.

Please let me know what you think.

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 22 October 2012 09:47 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

The National Nuclear Laboratories (NNL) position paper on Thorium is available at

http://www.nnl.co.uk/science-t.../position-papers.aspx

Also on this page is

- a report on the UK Nuclear Horizon, written just before the Fukushima Diachi Nuclear Disaster

- a report on Small Modular Nuclear Reactors

They say - "These papers reflect our independent and authoritative view and are supported by underpinning studies."

However this is clearly not true for the Thorium Fuel Cycle Document (August 2010). It has 5 pages of written text and there is no proper references to any of the underlying studies referred to in the document.

Although it is made very clear by the NNL that it should be considered an authoritive knowledge broker on this subject, this document doesn't evaluate Molten Salt reactors, which is a major omission.

The more recent report from March 2012 on DECC's website does include a one page evaluation of Molten Salt Reactors, within a 31 page report.

"Comparison of thorium and uranium fuel cycles"

"An assessment of how the use of uranium and thorium fuels compare within these reactors"

http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/cont...t/reactor_report.aspx

However this report basically comes to the same conclusion as the 5 page report published before the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster; that there is no business case for developing Thorium Reactors in this country presently.

One thing that the NNL always stresses is how technically mature the uranium fuel cycle is, and that this maturity justifies the nuclear research and development funds spent on it, without providing any evidence that this spending gives any substantial reductions in cost or substantial increases in process productivity. In fact the reverse is true, problems just mount up and costs spiral, as we spend more, especially at Sellafield.

When you see NNL officials please start questioning their viewpoint, especially on the question of the Thorium Fuel Cycle. Get them to admit that an investment of the order of £100 million over 4 years is not a lot to start the process of investigating the issue of Molten Salt Reactors, especially as it will help build up new skills that might prove useful in other industrial sectors as well.

Get them to admit that escalating costs of curent reactor designs relying on probabilistic safety are now a real problem. Get them to admit that after the next major accident (especially if it happens near a population centre) the costs of these reactors will shoot up further in an unpredictable way. Get them to admit that subsidising nuclear reactor insurance costs removes the economic incentive to develop intrinsically safe reactor designs (that have fully testable passive safety systems). Get them to admit...

Or alternatively ignore the issue; hide away; look after your job and pension; pretend the question of how we move forward on nuclear power doesn't exist; pretend the people currently in charge will always be in charge, and stay quiet, no matter how irrational their views appear post-Fukushima; in fact don't bother making any case for change when other people will take all the risk of doing this for you.

It now appears that the government will soon announce that it wants the public to underwrite the full cost of new nuclear, no matter what the eventual cost may be and despite the fact that we have not seen any of these new EPR reactors operating reliably yet.

You can either stay quiet, and let the blank cheque be signed on your behalf, or you can write in to MP's and government officials, questioning DECC's decision and the "authoritative" views of the NNL. Ask for new policy directions on new nuclear to be explored first. Ask for at least another 5 years delay before a final decision on a new EPR/AP1000 is made.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 23 October 2012 11:13 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Many of you will be aware of the following story, but just in case you missed it...

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/eb74...c0.html#axzz2A70Zb1no

"EU in favour of tougher nuclear insurance"

"Günther Oettinger, the EU's energy commissioner, said nuclear operators should have to buy liability insurance to cover damages from accidents - just like automobile drivers - even though this might push up energy costs.

"The obligation to have insurance cover will lead to costs that will be reflected in the costs to the consumer of buying electricity. Certainly this will not lead to nuclear energy becoming more competitive," said Mr Oettinger."

As I stated previously it is immoral for the state to subsidise electricity from nuclear power stations which have been constructed using probabilistic safety design methodologies, as this acts to discourage investment in new intrinsically safe designs for which the commercial insurance costs will be much lower. As a result we promote and maintain the short sighted technological lock-in to nuclear power station designs that can fail catastrophically and expensively, when we lose engineering control of them.

As well as being ethically indefensible it should be illegal for our government to use public money to favour specific companies and specific technologies in this way. They are in effect using public money to increase the chance that technological failures result in hugely damaging and expensive consequences for society. In this regard they are acting in the interests of selected corporations and industrial cliques, at the expense of society as a whole.

If the criminal courts could send politicians and nuclear industry leaders, including at the NNL and the Dalton Institute, to jail for continuing to irresponsibly promote and enable all this, it would help wake government officials, nuclear industry executives and academics up to the full consequences of their actions in this regard.

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 23 October 2012 12:07 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Two interesting youtube.com videos showing interviews and discussions with two of the people who worked on the first Molten Salt Thorium Reactor designs at Oak Ridge National Laboratories up until the 1970's

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENH-jd6NhRc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...k-_Gms&feature=relmfu

Also short interview at Huddersfield University where Prof. Jim Al-Khalili where he professes his support for Thorium as a nuclear.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6X9hQCHHGtI

Clip of Professor Bob Cywinski, on thorium-fuelled nuclear reactors at the University of Huddersfield

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJt1k8E9edw

There also are lots of well presented introductory public presentations on YouTube given by Kirk Sorensen. These aren't really aimed at engineering audiences, as he tends not to concentrate on the main challenges ahead, which a more interesting topic for engineers to think on.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 30 October 2012 04:06 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

The Nuclear Decomissioning Authority (NDA) has confirmed to me that they are not currently considering funding pre-cursor research into molten salt reactor technologies.

Apart from geological disposal or re-processing of plutonium as a MOX fuel, the two other approaches being examined by the NDA are the GE-Hitachi PRISM liquid sodium fast reactor and the Candu Reactor.

http://www.nda.gov.uk/news/plu...ment-alternatives.cfm

This simplies molten salt pre-cursor work in the uk as it does not now have to include waste converter type designs.

The NDA have previously commissioned Molten Salt reactor research and this work was undertaken by the National Nuclear Laboratories (NNL). The NDA will soon be letting me and the Weinberg Foundation (and all readers of this forum) know of these reports they are willing to release to the public.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 02 November 2012 10:16 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

The news from the Thorium Energy Conference 2012 in China

http://thec12.csp.escience.cn/dct/page/1

which ended yesterday is that there have been major changes to the project plan in regards to the building of the Chinese 2MW test molten salt reactor

The deadline to complete the molten salt reactor build phase will now be 2020 (put back from 2017), with a doubling of staff numbers and an unspecified increase in resources.

http://www.the-weinberg-founda...20-completion-target/

The Weinberg Foundation report

"The move is actually a positive one; reflecting a deeper understanding of the challenges and greater investment going into the project."

James Arathoon



-------------------------
James Arathoon
 02 November 2012 03:13 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

The European Union has launched a new Nuclear Forum:

http://www.world-nuclear-news....article.aspx?id=14100

I have written in to the EU to ask if there will be any money available for Thorium Molten Salt Reactor research.

This initiative may just become yet another vehicle for subsidising existing solid fuel Uranium Fission technologies or indeed a way of adding yet more to the copious funds available for Fusion research. However I live with the hope that change is in the air.

I will let this forum know what they say.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 07 November 2012 04:26 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Copy of letter I am sending out to beg for funding for

'Technical History of Molten Salt Technologies Research in the UK'

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am a consultant engineer and member of the IET with a mechanical engineering and physics background.

In discussions following a talk on Thorium Reactors given by Hywel Owen from Manchester University, it has become clear that for any program to ultimately develop a molten salt thorium reactor to begin in the UK, we would probably have to start with researchers and technicians already familiar in working with chemistry in molten salt fluids; this is so that some initial exploratory experimental work can be undertaken to model the removal fission products from a molten salt, initially using non-radioactive chemical analogues.

This is so that the research team would be able to later demonstrate to the UK Office of Nuclear Regulation practical competence in handling basic materials used in a thorium molten salt reactor, before going to the expense of applying for a nuclear licence to carry out further experimentation with the addition of radioactive substances.

I am writing because I would like to see a Molten Salt Reactor research programme initiated in the UK starting within the next year, concentrating initially on non-nuclear precursor including molten salt chemistry and mechanical engineering.

Initially I am looking to get old government research reports with relevance to the civilian applications of molten salts technologies either put in the public domain or in terms of specific technologies applicable to a self-contained product (e.g. molten salt valve or pump) licensed out to commercial partners.

From information I have received from the NDA so far it appears that there is a significant amount of material concerning molten salt technologies hidden away in various archives and quite a lot of scientists and engineers have been involved in this work over the years. A lot of these scientists and engineers are retired, and access may be granted through the NDA to interview some of them.

Initially I was planning to make all the necessary applications for public release myself but there is so much material that I now think that a full time researcher at a university would be a better route to take.

The estimate for research costs for a 2 year post doctoral position in Chemical Engineering at Nottingham University, including travel expenses, and administrative and technical support, would be £280,000.

I was wondering whether you would be prepared to make a grant of between £5,000 and £30,000 to help go towards the cost of this research effort. All output will be in the public domain and you will be issued with bound paper copies of the research reports for your library.

Please let me know if you are interested in supporting this project.

(All monies raised will go direct to Nottingham University to pay for this research)

Best Regards,

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 09 November 2012 08:45 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



rogerbryant

Posts: 864
Joined: 19 July 2002

India is still trying:

http://www.newscientist.com/ar...am-inches-closer.html

Best regards

Roger
 12 November 2012 10:42 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message


Avatar for aroscoe.
aroscoe

Posts: 91
Joined: 18 October 2002


I was chatting to my Dad about this last night - he once worked at the Atomic Energy Authority site at Culcheth, doing research into liquid-sodium cooled reactors (breeders mainly). There are some good stories and probably a lot of science tucked away in archives and memories. I don't know if he's going to get around to typing anything up, but I showed him this thread and he was quite interested.



-------------------------
Dr. Andrew Roscoe

http://personal.strath.ac.uk/andrew.j.roscoe
 15 November 2012 03:26 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message


Avatar for aroscoe.
aroscoe

Posts: 91
Joined: 18 October 2002


Its about molten sodium (not molten salt), but I found a declassified NASA document available at either of the following 2 locations, which describes some of the work going on in the early 60's.

http://ntrs.nasa.gov/archive/n...007553_1963007553.pdf

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/Ge...RDoc.pdf&AD=ADA397559

My Dad just read this and he says it describes quite accurately some of the work he was doing at Culcheth at the time. He distinctly remembers the oxygen and carbon measuring systems.


-------------------------
Dr. Andrew Roscoe

http://personal.strath.ac.uk/andrew.j.roscoe
 06 December 2012 02:00 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

The debate over the proliferation monitoring of Thorium reactors is now picking up.

http://phys.org/news/2012-12-t...lear-wonder-fuel.html

This is an important issue that needs to be addressed.

Without NDA supplied fissile material to start a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor program in the UK, the system operator has to slowly build up their own supply of Uranium-233 somehow to be used in the reactor. This initial breeding of Uranium-233 can be done within the reactor itself if some kind of neutron source (small uranium fission reactor (additional regulatory poblems), lossy fusion (unproven? and potentially many months to get the reactor started), proton accelerator (very expensive)) is built as part of the reactor set-up.

"Lossy Fusion"/"Fisson" Hybrids are discussed here

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCm0jW5Bjdg

Obviously this activity must have full civil regulatory approval and monitored for proliferation risks by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Practical agreements for regulatory monitoring have a greater chance of working if fissile material does not need to be moved to and from the regulated reactor sites.

For this to work the net quantities of uranium-233 buffered up in the reactor need to be controlled (minimised) and monitored at all times, using some combination of measurements, including of measurement of protactinium decay rates (to establish the rate of Uranium-233 creation) and accurate measurements of the reactor power output (giving the rate of Uranium-233 destruction though fission). These measurements can be buttressed with a range of other measurement techniques and monitoring systems that can be used in parallel to help verify accuracy.

If the thorium molten salt reactor is designed to be switched off and on for back-up generation and peaking work, then the control of net Uranium-233 buffer stock levels is slightly complicated by the time lag assoiated with the 27 half-life of the decay of protactinium to Uranium-233.

The main challenge of setting up a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor Research Programme is uncovering all the new multi-faceted systems/integration engineering problems that need solving, and then setting out to solve them in a reasonably sensible and cost effective order; added to the engineering problems is a whole new set of political and regulatory problems and concerns that will need addressing.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 06 December 2012 02:08 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Sorry if you received multiple posts, the reply to topic editing window didn't close properly.

Should read "27 day half-life of the decay of protactinium to Uranium-233" above.

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
IET » Energy » Molten Salt Thorium Reactor

1 2 Next Last unread
Topic Tools Topic Tools
Statistics

See Also:



FuseTalk Standard Edition v3.2 - © 1999-2014 FuseTalk Inc. All rights reserved.