Some Liquid Fuel Thorium Reactor points
I pasted the best parts of the website here, so that you didn’t have to navigate through the basic AGW speech to get to the good stuff
Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor History
The LFTR uses inexpensive thorium as a fuel, transforming it to uranium-233 which fissions, producing heat and electric power. Innovatively, the thorium and uranium are dissolved in molten salt, simplifying fueling and waste removal compared to today’s nuclear power plants. Prototype molten salt reactors were developed and tested by the US at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the 1960s and 1970s. President Ford stopped the project in 1976. Scientists in France, the Czech Republic, Japan and Russia are carrying forward the research. Occasional theoretical papers are published by US scientists. In 2006 the Oak Ridge research papers were scanned and posted on the internet. A collaboration of scientists, engineers, and professional volunteers has begun developing an updated conceptual design for the LFTR.
Environmental LFTR Advantages
1.The LFTR produces energy cheaper than from coal, economically forcing closure of coal power plants and their CO2 emissions, checking global warming. The low cost energy also advances prosperity in developing nations, creating a lifestyle that results in diminishing world population without increasing pollution and tragic competition for dwindling natural resources.
2.The LFTR produces less hazardous waste than coal or other forms of nuclear energy — less than 1/100 the long-lived radioactive waste of today’s nuclear power plants. It can consume spent fuel now stored outside existing nuclear power plants.
3.Ending atmospheric pollution from coal particulates would save 24,000 lives annually in the US and hundreds of thousands in China and worldwide.
4.it uses an inexhaustible supply of inexpensive thorium fuel. One tonne of thorium (costing $100,000) provides 1 GW-year of electric power, enough for a city.
Technical LFTR Advantages
1.LFTR has no refueling outages, with continuous refueling and continuous waste fission product removal.
2.it can change power output to satisfy demand, satisfying today’s need for both baseload coal or nuclear power and expensive peakload natural gas power.
3.LFTR operates at high temperature, for 50% thermal/electrical conversion efficiency,thus needing only half the cooling required by today’s coal or nuclear plant cooling towers.
4.it is air cooled, critical for arid regions of the Western US and many developing countries where water is scarce.
5.LFTR has low capital costs because it does not need massive pressure vessels or containment domes, because of its compact heat exchanger and Brayton cycle turbine, because of intrinsic safety features, and because cooling requirements are halved.
6.an LFTR will cost $200 million for a moderate size 100 MW unit, allowing incremental capital outlays, affordability to developing nations, and suitability for factory production, truck transport, and site assembly.
7.it will be factory produced, like Boeing airliners, lowering costs and time, enabling continuous improvement.
8.it can make hydrogen to synthesize vehicle fuels from recycled waste CO2, reducing foreign oil dependency.
9.it could convert air and water to ammonia for fertilizer, whose production today absorbs > 1% of all the world’s energy.
10.Its molten salt fuel form facilitates handling and chemical processing.
11.LFTR is intrinsically safe because overheating expands the fuel salt past criticality, because LFTR fuel is not pressurized, and because total loss of power or control will allow a freeze-plug to melt, gravitationally draining all fuel salt into a dump tray, where it cools convectively.
12.100% of LFTR’s thorium fuel is burned, compared to 0.7% of uranium burned in today’s nuclear reactors.
13.LFTR is proliferation resistant, because LFTR U-233 fuel also contains U-232 decay products that emit strong gamma radiation, hazardous to any bomb builders who might somehow seize control of the power plant for the many months necessary extract uranium.
14.in the LFTR, plutonium and other actinides remain in the salt until fissioned, unlike today’s solid fuel reactors, which must refuel long before these long-lived radiotoxic elements are consumed, because of radiation and thermal stress damage to the zirconium-encased solid fuel rods.
15.no plutonium or other fissile material is ever isolated or transported to or from the LFTR, except for importing spent nuclear fuel waste used to start the LFTR.
1.The nuclear power industry, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the US military all focus on the uranium/plutonium solid fuel nuclear power.
2.There is almost no political awareness of the thorium/uranium fuel cycle. [Recently, James Hansen, a well-known climate scientist from NASA and Columbia and advisor to President Elect Barack Obama, is recommending consideration of the LFTR.]
3.There is no US R&D funding, except less than $100,000 per year for molten salt research papers.
4.Significant R&D work is required, costing over $1 billion over 5 years to develop a prototype.
5.The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission would need to learn LFTR technology in order to license and regulate it.