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 Previous 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.
 12 December 2012 02:13 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

I have recently been in contact with the UK Atomic Energy Authority and received a very dissappointing response on engaging with researchers on the more near term applications of lossy Fusion systems that I have sent a letter to the Business Innovation and Skills department questioning the current funding strategy and balance in this field.

Culhams negative response on near term applications of lossy Fusion has really enraged me. They are in their own little funding bubble and do you feel the slightest bit engaged with the energy problems we will all face on the 10-20 year timeframe. If they aim to have their site closed down this is exactly the arrogant approach they should take.

The way the current peer review funding is operated is completely nonsensical and has to change radically. It does not allow generalist engineers to take a formal role and it is about time we had a say on the gross errors of judgement currently being made on the spending of public money right accross the nuclear sector.

All I can do is make a noise and pick apart the idiocy of it all from the side lines as usual...

------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Department of Business Innovation and Skills,

I am writing to raise my concern that there is not even one UKAEA Fusion researcher allocated to maintaining an ongoing research interest in practical engineering applications of fusion that do not necessarily need net energy gains to be useful. One such application for lossy fusion systems that is being researched elsewhere in the world are Fission/Fusion hybrid systems, with particular application to thorium molten salt reactors.

It is interesting for me as a industrial engineer that these sort of much less demanding hybrid applications for fusion exist and where there is at least a small chance of practical engineering applications emerging from this area of research within my lifetime (I am now 46).

Having been involved with many engineering projects that have delivered within the timescale of my lifetime, I would like to lobby for a few such engineering 'mavericks' to be publicly funded to do this within the UK plasma physics community as well.

In regards to this I have a couple of questions:

Is it stated government policy that all fusion research funds to Culham and university research departments must be devoted to the all or nothing task of getting fusion working as a stand alone energy generation technology?

Is there some scope for a small reallocation of research funds? I understand hybrid applications research has proceeded elsewhere within budgets that are very modest compared with the needs of Jet or ITER (i.e. of the order of a million pounds per year level).

(My feelings of unease about the need for ITER has increased since engineers at Culham told me in private conversation, that they can predict with reasonable accuracy what will happen at ITER and that this is because the plasma scaling laws are reasonably well understood from their work with Jet etc. Yet at the same time essential material science research work essential to getting fusion working as a practical power generating proposition remains grossly under funded. It is not entirely clear to me that gradually increasing the duration of a plasma pulse is a sensible engineering strategy to develop an engineering system maintaining a continuous and stable plasma environment for net power output from fusion.

It should be noted that sort of reallocation of funding for nearer term practical engineering applications of fusion I have in mind is tiny by comparison with Jet and ITER and might only delay ITER by a few days in its 40 year or more timeline.

I will post your public response on this matter on the Institute of Engineering and Technology website so that it can be discussed more widely within the engineering community.


Best Regards,

James Arathoon

-------------------------------------------------------------



-------------------------
James Arathoon
 09 January 2013 09:37 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jcm256

Posts: 1856
Joined: 01 April 2006

Not really much point UK, trying to compete with China on thorium research, UK dos not have the money. We will have though the money to buy from China if be out of the EU by that time and were able to stop giving billions to the overseas owners of wind turbines

From the Times:
However, the Chinese are ahead. In addition, if they manage to crack thorium, says the article, the world will need less oil, coal, and gas than feared.
Wind turbines will vanish from our landscape. There will [be] less risk of a global energy crunch, less risk of resource wars, and less risk of a climate tipping point.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fin...wer-from-thorium.html


http://www.mining.com/china-se...ower-generation-28922/
 09 January 2013 01:05 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Originally posted by: jcm256

Not really much point UK, trying to compete with China on thorium research, UK dos not have the money. We will have though the money to buy from China if be out of the EU by that time and were able to stop giving billions to the overseas owners of wind turbines



You can take that defeatist attitude with any new technology. Your view is that the Chinese will always do a better job, so lets not bother trying to develop any new technologies anymore.

There is plenty of money available in the UK to develop a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor, when we compare the sum needed with what we will have to pay for over priced EPR electricity on a 30 year CFD contract, or indeed current designs of offshore windfarm. Have you worked out how many unnecessary billions of pounds will disappear out of the country under DECC's current energy policy? This is a recipe for economic disaster.

Its not because a Thorium MSR development programme would be too expensive that we aren't doing it, it is because it would be too cheap, and would ruin too many elite reputations, and spoil too many CV's.

£25 million pounds a year for four years is nothing for the government to invest, partly to help clarify the investment rules and reglatory regime to be put in place. There is nothing to stop us collaborating with the Chinese over this.

Private sector investors will follow in quickly once they see an opportunity to make money and lots of it.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 12 January 2013 02:31 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Design of 80 MW Prototype Molten Salt Thorium Reactor (A quick sketch)
[Product name not yet chosen. Corporate vehicle and name not yet set up.] (All MW in electrical power out)

Because a molten salt reactor is much smaller than an equivalent pressurized water reactor, it will need far less construction materials and will not need an expensively engineered pressure vessel.

The budget needed to build such an 80 MW prototype would be around £320 million

The final production design size envisaged would be 320 MW (a four times increase on the prototype) with a 4 year total build time. Power stations larger than 320 MW would just use additonal 320MW modules.

Final production design 320MW module will cost £800 million

eg. 640 MW (2 modules), 960 MW (3 modules), 1280 MW (4 modules), 1600 MW (5 modules)

The equivalent of an EPR (5 modules) would cost £4 billion instead of £7 billion. A saving of £30 billion over 10 power stations

Timescale and development costs:

- Next 4 years building up the Molten Salt Reactor design. (£25 million a year)
- Prototype reactor build starts in 2017 with a 4 year build (£320 million total + £25 million a year).
- First thorium energy generation 2021
- Four year program of work to determine all the main weaknesses in the design and develop fixes for them (£25 million a year)
- First 320 MW module construction started (2026) and finished 2030 (£800 million)
- Four year program of work to determine all the main weaknesses in the design and develop fixes for them (£25 million a year) ending in 2034

Molten Salt Thorium Reactor 320MW module market Ready 2035

Total cost of programme £1.67 billion

22 x £25 million = £550 million (in the later stages some of this can be funded and offset through electricity sales receipts)
prototype power stations £1.12 billion

I am not sure what the best corporate vehicle for doing this work is and how best to raise the long term captial investment required. Any ideas?

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 12 January 2013 05:36 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

The money would be needed in 3 tranches

1. Year 1 Initial design (£100 million)
2. Year 5, 80 MW prototype build and development (£520 million)
3. Year 13, 320 MW module build (£1.05 billion)

Full investment maturity year 23. (earliest point initial investments can be sold is year 13, when fund raising for 320 MW module goes ahead)

Perhaps there could be

1. Minimum initial £5,000 investment (therefore up to 20,000 investors needed)
2. There will be investment options of 5 times initial investment at year 5, and 10 times initial investment at year 13.

This would allow people to fund a complete retirement package on an integrated investment of £80,000 over 13 years. The riskiest point is year 5 to 13 when all may be lost if the design fails to work successfully - so not an investment strategy for the faint hearted!

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 13 January 2013 10:15 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

As some of you are aware I have been contacting the NDA in repect to the archived reports etc on molten salt research etc they hold.

They have been very helpful in listing the reports.

I now note that this is slightly undermined by the fact that they are now locating all this research material at Wick, within easy computable distance of John O'Groats, but not London, Birmingham, Manchester or Cardiff.

http://www.highland.gov.uk/you...ber/2012-12-14-05.htm

By the time the "national" archive opens in 2016 Scotland may be a Nuclear Free(ish) Independent State, with border guards stopping free access to nuclear research materials by citizens from the rest of Britain and Northern Ireland..

Why not store it in a Welsh town? I understand Aberystwyth was used during World War 2; Wrexham is run down they need some inward investment? Why stick the archive at the most northerly tip of Scotland, just prior to an independence referendum?

"NDA chairman, Stephen Henwood, said, "This is a significant decision for the NDA. Today's announcement signals the culmination of an extensive piece of work to devise a strategy for the long-term safe management of a huge volume of records dating back to the 1940's. The archive to be built in Wick will be an extremely important national facility and I'm particularly pleased about the additional economic benefits that will come to the north of Scotland by placing the archive in Caithness."
"

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 14 January 2013 08:01 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



fullcircleltd

Posts: 7
Joined: 15 October 2012

Hello friends,

Thanks for sharing this with us.
 14 January 2013 11:54 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



acsinuk

Posts: 153
Joined: 30 June 2007

Hi James
You have lost me a little. Uranium 238 and Thorium 232 are both radio-active fuels I believe. Are we about to run out of Uranium or is it much more expensive than Thorium to source?? Where does it come from?
CliveS
 14 January 2013 03:17 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Dear Clive,

What is your educational background?

For example are you familiar with the experimental fact that Uranium 238 is not fissile and Uranium 235 is fissile? Do you know what fissile means?
Do you know that the Uranium 235 isotope is not very abundant and so Uranium has to be enriched in 235 to work in light water reactors?

Do you know that Thorium 232 needs to be converted to Uranium 233 before it becomes fissile, by the addition of a neutron?

Do you know that the waste legacy from Uranium-235 fission includes plutonium and other long lived radioactive waste products? Do you know that Plutonium production can be avoided in Uranium 233 fission?

Do you know that starting a Thorium molten Salt Reactor either needs a neutron source (or proton souce and spellation taget) or some initial starting fissile material?

All this can be demonstated and developed, even if you personally don't wish to understand how it works.

What really matters to me is how collectively the British nuclear establishment and scientific elite (Royal Academy's of Science and Engineering for example) are slowly strangling this country to death to save their own vain and vacuous reputations from being tarnished or even slightly undermined.

Best Regards,

James

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 16 January 2013 02:11 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

This went up on the Telegraphs Energy Blog a few days ago.

"Last chance to protest before the EU snuffs out thorium energy in Europe"

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/f...ium-energy-in-europe/

The european public consultation on Nuclear Fission Research ran from the 17th December to the 10th January 2013.

http://www.snetp.eu/www/snetp/...icle&id=118&Itemid=11

Did anyone know about this? Were the IET invited to make a submission? Were any members of the UK public invited to take part?

I actually wrote to the people in charge of all this nonsense and they didn't even have the courtesy to inform me that it was happening.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 17 January 2013 02:45 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



acsinuk

Posts: 153
Joined: 30 June 2007

Thanks for the info James. Most interesting. I was aware that the Uranium had to be centrifuged. Is it true that the Thorium reactor could use up the old plutonium as a neutron source? If so, then it would be ideal and certainly we should pursue its development.
CliveS
 22 January 2013 11:57 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jcm256

Posts: 1856
Joined: 01 April 2006

Well at least BNFL has a stake in PBMR Reactor. Do you know anything about it how it works?


Amongst the contenders for 'next generation' plant is the Pebble Bed Modular
Reactor (PBMR) being developed through ESKOM, the South African State
Electricity Company, which in collaboration with the Industrial Development
Corporation of South Africa has established an R&D Company which includes
BNFL as a 20% stakeholder.
The PBMR is a simple design concept that is expected to be highly competitive
with virtually all other forms of electricity generation.
21. With a design power output of 110 MWe the plant brings with it a step change in
Safety

http://webarchive.nationalarch...trategy/assets/ine.pdf
 22 January 2013 02:10 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

jcm256,

If it can be made to work then do the pebble bed designs actually lessen the problems surrounding actinide production (plutonium), spent fuel reprocessing and waste storage?

If the government continues to cap these costs with subsidies, then I suppose the pebble bed people don't have to worry about such problems, just as the existing nuclear industry doesn't.

The reason I like the Molten Salt Thorium Reactor is that it potentially allows a very substantial reduction in waste volumes, waste transportation and average radioactive isotope half-lives.

James Arathoon

-------------------------
James Arathoon
 22 January 2013 04:06 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Email just sent to DECC and cc'd to the Weinberg Foundation

Dear DECC,

Can you let me know who the expert at DECC is on Molten Salt Thorium Reactors? I wish to ask some questions as to what government support there will be for setting up an initial 4 year £100 million program, to build up UK expertise in this field, prior to building an 80 MWe development reactor.

The Technology Strategy Board says they cannot help and advised me that I needed to get the UKAEA involved. I have since found that the UKAEA are definitely not interested in getting involved. The NDA told me that they will potentially help in terms of access to nuclear archives on Molten Salt research, but then soon after announced that they were moving all their archived material up to Wick near John O'Groats. This seems far from helpful to me as I live near London. The AWE says that they do not have the necessary expertise to help out with a civilian Molten Salt Thorium Reactor programme, and I am very grateful to them for letting me know this.

I know the leadership of the NNL are uninterested in Molten Salt Thorium Reactors, although younger members of the organisation appear much more receptive.

I have a letter from the European Commission inviting an application for a molten salt thorium reactor research funding.

Can you please appoint a single central government contact to help me and others like me interested in Molten Salt Thorium Reactors?

Best Regards,

James Arathoon


-------------------------
James Arathoon
 22 January 2013 09:14 PM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message


Avatar for cmatheson.
cmatheson

Posts: 211
Joined: 16 January 2003

Originally posted by: jarathoon

Design of 80 MW Prototype Molten Salt Thorium Reactor (A quick sketch) wtf?

- Four year program of work to determine all the main weaknesses in the design and develop fixes for them (£25 million a year)

James Arathoon


£25 billion a year to underwrite as well.

Thorium is old news. The reactor design looks easy but there are certain other parts of the process that are nasty. Are you able to quantify the technical and financial risks involved while a grossly underfunded crew try to work out how they will deal with their "main weaknesses"?

-------------------------
Chris Matheson MInstMC
 23 January 2013 11:57 AM
User is offline View Users Profile Print this message



jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

Originally posted by: cmatheson

£25 billion a year to underwrite as well.

Thorium is old news. The reactor design looks easy but there are certain other parts of the process that are nasty. Are you able to quantify the technical and financial risks involved while a grossly underfunded crew try to work out how they will deal with their "main weaknesses"?


I am interested to know what needs to underwritten at a cost of £25 billion a year.

The Chinese have only just decided to fund a large molten salt reactor development program. If you think this is "old news" then you use the term "old" in a completely different sense to me.

There are lots of "nasty" chemical processes around, especially in the semiconductor industries. The chemical engineers I have spoken to are up for the challenges we will face with the molten salt thorium reactor.

There is lots of industrial experience (outside of the nuclear industry) in handling much more nasty chemicals than will be present in the molten salt reactor and avoiding these toxic materials from spreading around in the environment. All you have to do is start opening your eyes to the skills that exist in wider society. The current nuclear industry is inward looking and tries to protect its workers from being influenced by progress in other industrial sectors. This is what the Nuclear passport programme is really all about.

The technological development difficulties are there and must be confronted; I wouldn't describe them as easy. However these technological problems pale into insignificance compared with the huge sociological barriers to change in the UK from an array of established and vested interests.

The Weinberg Foundation and others are attacking this problem in their way, I am attacking it in my way and a few other people are chipping away quietly behind the scenes.

I can't quantify the risks yet, because I need at least one bureaucrat in goverment to tell the truth about how collective government really feels about all this. It is no good if one arm of goverment says yes and another plays games trying to disrupt progress in any way they can.

James Arathoon

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

<< 1 2 Previous Last unread
Topic Tools Topic Tools
Statistics

See Also:



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