Friday, February 20, 2009
Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor
The liquid fluoride thorium reactor is another advanced nuclear power source, even more promising than the pebble bed reactor. The LFTR uses inexpensive thorium as a fuel, transforming it to uranium-233 which fissions, producing heat and electric power at a cost less than that from coal power plants.
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. 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.
Aim High is a proposal to factory-produce 100 MW electric power reactors to achieve an electric power cost cheaper than from coal. By economically undercutting coal power plants we can dissuade India, China, and the other developing nations from burning coal, without carbon taxes, which they would never accept. Less expensive, affordable electric power is also key to helping the developing nations achieve a modest level of prosperity that leads to population stability.
The Aim High book is available at Amazon. The Aim High website contains a Power Point version of the proposal and more information. The Energy From Thorium website contains an extensive blog, forum, and reference library.
Conceptual layout of a PBMR
Johannesburg's Business Report says the pebble bed modular reactor project is running out of cash. It's initial goals may have to be redirected.
One way to obtain an early benefit from the PBMR is to use its heat directly, deferring the development of the helium turbine and electric generator. South Africa's SASOL company is the largest producer of gasoline from coal. The heat to drive the conversion also comes from coal, leading to increased CO2 emissions. The PBMR heat can be used instead, lowering CO2 emissions. Such process heat could also be used for extracting oil from the Canadian tar sands. Hyperion Power is also exploring this use for its uranium hydride reactor technology.