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Topic Title: What happens once the UK abandons the path to new 3rd Generation Nuclear?
Topic Summary: What are the options in terms of Fourth Generation Nuclear?
Created On: 07 May 2013 01:11 PM
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 07 May 2013 01:11 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

I think the IET should organise a meeting together with the IMechE and IChemE to bring together experts with a wide range of outlook, to discuss the future of the nuclear industry in a critical, rational, forthright and honest way.

When the negotiations between the government and EDF finally collapse (sometime this summer, most likely before the holiday season in August), we as engineers should not be taken by surprise, we should have something to say or be actively preparing something to say on what we do instead.

It is now clear 'the collective client' [that is the UK public] cannot afford the proposed "3rd generation nuclear at any cost" option that is on the table, therefore we need as engineers to work up some alternatives, we all can collectively afford. In particular we need to build up a private sector market place in energy generation technologies, not design systems which abolish private sector innovation and involvement.

I personally think we need a transformed and renewed nuclear industry (especially in terms of its current leadership) to encourage research and development in terms of new nuclear waste management and energy generation technologies.

I don't want to be helping dig a hole to bury plutonium at great expense. Nor do I want to build another sodium filled fast neutron fission reactor to burn it. I want to build "thermal neutron" molten salt reactors to get rid of our civilian stockpile of plutonium waste, along with other thorium nuclear molten salt reactors which generate very little plutonium and other long lived radioactive waste as a long term energy generation technology. I think we should build these technologies up in any order or by any process that makes sense.

If people think that putting corrosion resistant nuclear fuel pebbles in a molten salt heat transfer bath, as a first step, then so be it, I will go along with that. Building plants which require fast flowing pressurised gas or water cooling is expensive and difficult and just doesn't make any commercial or engineering sense, if you can use slow moving molten salts as the heat transfer fluid at atmospheric pressure instead.

In the UK, I think we do have the necessary engineering motivation, expertise and funds to build up new UK based fourth generation nuclear development programmes, especially if those programmes are built up in partnership with other countries.

I think in the present circumstances we should be saying "look instead of new 3rd generation nuclear at any cost" we could be doing this or that or the other, some mixture of this, that and the other. The more potential alternatives we work up the better at this stage, because the more sensible our medium and long term choices will be further on down the line.

I know some of you are sick of me saying this again and again and again. However I don't care, because I am sick and tired of living in a country run by people who argue from "presige", or use other dishonest rhetorical tricks, to undermine efforts to evauate or consider alternatives, and who thus lead us to collectively throw away billions and billons of pounds down the drain, year in, year out, with lots of senseless repetition and little rational deviation.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 13 May 2013 02:20 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

From a recent post on the weinberg foundation site by guest blogger Stephen Boyd.

"The illusions of molten salt reactors, science and politics"

http://www.the-weinberg-founda...science-and-politics/

Some discussion of what material not to use to coat nucear fuel pebbles it they are to be cooled in a molten salt medium. A short segment is given below

"BEWARE SILICON CARBIDE

Across the world, government and private initiatives are considering using silicon carbide (SiC) as a structural material for pipes that contain the molten, circulating salts. Others are proposing it as cladding to coat specialized solid-fuel pellets commonly referred to as "pebbles" in proposed "pebble bed reactors" that would use solid pebble-shaped fuel cooled by molten salt.

Our contention is that SiC is a poor material. In our paper we cite experimental evidence collected over the decades that, we assert, demonstrate this point. Normally, SiC is an excellent refractory material (a material that retains its structural strength even at high temperatures)."

So the question remains: what material would be best to coat the nuclear fuel pebbles when cooled by a molten salt medium?

Is there a coating material that is semi-porous to the gas Xenon and yet impervious to corrosion from the molten fluoride salt?

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 13 May 2013 08:07 PM
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jcm256

Posts: 1856
Joined: 01 April 2006

Do you think will they?
Russian operator Rosatom 'eyeing Horizon Nuclear Power

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-w...h-west-wales-17682322

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-w...th-west-wales-17666018
 13 May 2013 10:01 PM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

The Russians didn't buy it Hitachi did. Those stories are from last year

http://www.horizonnuclearpower.com/

"Horizon Nuclear Power is a UK energy company developing a new generation of nuclear power stations. A wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi,Ltd., we plan to provide at least 5,200MW of new power station capacity to the UK, enough to power around 10 million homes."

Hitachi have started the GDA process for their Advanced Boiling Water Reactor here in the UK.

http://www.horizonnuclearpower.com/ABWR-technology

GE-Hitachi is trying to sell its sodium cooled fast reactor to the NDA for burning our plutonium waste.

http://www.ge-energy.com/produ...um_cooled_reactor.jsp

But there is lots of expensive nuclear fuel reprocessing either side of the reactor.

Going the molten salt route is cheaper and will give us more engineering options in the long term. I think it is the only technology for which a fully private sector funding model could be possible.

A lot more rare earth metal mining would be possible if we found a use for the Thorium extracted as a by-product.


It may be possible to start a thorium molten salt reactor by temporarily adding some corrosion resistant nuclear fuel pebbles containing sufficient Plutonium 240, to produce enough spontaneous fissions to begin the process of breeding Uranium 233 from Thorium, without needing to contaminate the molten salt itself with lots of plutonium.

Once enough Uranium 233 has been bred, plutonium waste could be burnt up inside pebbles added to a running thorium reactor. That way we could concentrate on developing clean burn Thorium technologies (that produce very little plutionium and other actinide waste) and possibly have a complementary and independently engineered technique to gradually burn through large parts of our plutonium stockpile.

Since I have no UK investors at the moment, I will gladly accept research and development inward investment cash from European, American, Russian, Chinese or Japanese Companies that want to set up molten salt nuclear research facilities here in the UK.

We have everything we need here in Britain to get the job done, imagination, ideas, engineering expertise, experience with using molten salts etc., well everything that is apart from the cash.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
 14 May 2013 09:38 AM
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jarathoon

Posts: 1040
Joined: 05 September 2004

DECC has just published the responses to it's consultation on what to do with our plutonium stockpile.

"The Government's preferred option for managing the UK plutonium stockpile, reuse as Mixed Oxide fuel (MOX) was set out in the Government response to the consultation on the long-term management of UK plutonium."

Management of the UK's Plutonium Stocks

So designing molten salt thorium reactors with the ability to take corrosive resistant MOX fuel pebbles would be in-line with current government policy.

James Arathoon

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James Arathoon
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