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#309891 - 12/15/18 11:11 PM Re: Another Solution [Re: jgw]
pondering_it_all Offline
veteran

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 8935
Loc: North San Diego County
We really need somebody rich to decide to build a thorium reactor. That seems to be the only way we get things done now in the US. The companies that build reactors in the US are unlikely to enter a new design era because of their patents, etc. But I would be perfectly happy with an Indian or Chinese design. India in particular has a great incentive to mass produce them because it needs so much energy to modernize and it has lots of thorium and not much uranium. There is really no reason for a thorium-reactor-race. A decent design that was inexpensive to build and walk-away reliable would benefit everybody on Earth.

They can be drop-in modules that power companies can buy and put right to work. Get out of this one-up 10 year nuclear power plant design and custom build cycle. Just think: One standard design approved by the NRC in advance. Power companies with existing hot water reactors could just buy modules to truck to the site and start to replace the energy output of the hot water reactors as they age out.

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#309894 - 12/16/18 02:00 AM Re: Another Solution [Re: pondering_it_all]
Jeffery J. Haas Online   happy

It's the Despair Quotient!
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 14592
Loc: Whittier, California
Originally Posted By: pondering_it_all

They can be drop-in modules that power companies can buy and put right to work. Get out of this one-up 10 year nuclear power plant design and custom build cycle. Just think: One standard design approved by the NRC in advance. Power companies with existing hot water reactors could just buy modules to truck to the site and start to replace the energy output of the hot water reactors as they age out.


Been a fan of that kind of thinking forever.
Maybe someday enough Americans will finally catch on.
_________________________
The only people pushing the Athenian Straw Man Nonexistent Threat of Slippery Slope Windyfoggery (ASMNSSW) RE DEMOCRACY are people who have a misunderstanding/problem or hatred of democracy. (See AUTHORITARIANS)

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#309895 - 12/16/18 02:48 AM Re: Another Solution [Re: Jeffery J. Haas]
Greger Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/24/06
Posts: 15740
Loc: Florida
Solar and wind are the future. Both China and India are leading the world in their investment in renewables. They aren't likely to go back to coal or nuclear. Uncounted fortunes have been spent on nuclear research and all we have to show for it is a bunch of waste material we still don't know what to do with.
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#309904 - 12/16/18 10:16 PM Re: Another Solution [Re: jgw]
pondering_it_all Offline
veteran

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 8935
Loc: North San Diego County
That's because of the influence of the military, back when they actually had a Thorium reactor up and running. Thorium did not make Plutonium for bomb making, so we had to go with Uranium. Got to make all those thousands of nukes, you know. The nuclear power industry all came right out of Plutonium-producing Uranium reactor technology, which all the nuclear physicists knew well.

The worst thing about that was just the bad engineering principle: Hot water reactors are ready to explode at all times. You have to keep juggling fuel rods and control rods in and out to keep it under control, and as the load changes you need more or less fission all the time.

Thorium reactors are inactive unless you send in some gamma rays. Stop generating the gamma and they just sit there. That's why they say they are "walk-away safe". Need more power output? Just send in more gamma. Need less? Send less gamma. It can't run away, because the fission taking place does not make more gamma. You turn off the gamma rays and it starts to cool down immediately. Much much better design.

Instead of a thousand indicators and several operators sitting on the edge of their chairs. I think you could just use a totally automated controller that would respond to grid load conditions by modulating the gamma flux. And it could not run away ever, because the gamma generator can't suddenly start making more gamma. Maybe have one big red button for emergency shutdown, and one guy to babysit and read a book or surf the web, just so people feel safe about it.

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#309906 - 12/17/18 01:02 AM Re: Another Solution [Re: pondering_it_all]
Greger Offline

Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/24/06
Posts: 15740
Loc: Florida
You make it all sound so simple PIA!

But it isn't or they'd be building them right now. It's like cars that run on water...just around the corner.
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"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." Oscar Wilde

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#309908 - 12/17/18 04:24 AM Re: Another Solution [Re: Greger]
Jeffery J. Haas Online   happy

It's the Despair Quotient!
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 14592
Loc: Whittier, California
Originally Posted By: Greger
You make it all sound so simple PIA!

But it isn't or they'd be building them right now. It's like cars that run on water...just around the corner.


Greger, he accurately described the reactor process in a nutshell.
The obstacle isn't feasibility, it's industry resistance to "not invented here" and the overall poor public perception of anything with the word "nuclear" in it. Investors don't like nuclear.
Now someone is claiming that there is a brand new (actually fairly old) way to make nuclear power, and investors don't trust that the public will believe it. They don't want to get mired in the politics of it.

But the history he described, the Cold War command decision to choose one fuel cycle over another (instead of just pursuing BOTH) is also 100% true.

Thorium reactors aren't nuke fusion and they aren't cars that run on water. It's like the difference between natural gas refrigeration and electrically powered refrigeration, or gas dryers versus electric dryers, or more accurately, the difference between Otto cycle gasoline engines and Atkinson cycle gasoline engines.

Or hybrid EV's and pure EV's.
_________________________
The only people pushing the Athenian Straw Man Nonexistent Threat of Slippery Slope Windyfoggery (ASMNSSW) RE DEMOCRACY are people who have a misunderstanding/problem or hatred of democracy. (See AUTHORITARIANS)

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#309910 - 12/17/18 08:50 AM Re: Another Solution [Re: jgw]
pondering_it_all Offline
veteran

Registered: 02/27/06
Posts: 8935
Loc: North San Diego County
They already built one and ran it for something like 15000 hours, and that was 53 years ago! The public perception and investment climate is very poor here. That's why I suggested a rich man (like Elon Musk) would have to do it on their own, and demonstrate to everyone that it is viable and safe. Absent that Randian-hero, I suppose we just have to wait for the Chinese or Indians to start mass production.

My description is simple because the design is simple. I did make one mistake though in my description: You have to bombard the reactor core with neutrons, not gamma rays. (Sorry, but I'm no nuclear physicist. I have worked with some radioactive stuff, but only in medical research and one very advanced high school biology class.) That makes more sense because you have to transmute Thorium-232 into Uranium-233, which then fissions very quickly and emits lots of energy.

That's also why this is so safe: The Thorium is "fertile but not fissile" in that it does not decay, but it's easily transmuted into U-233 which is fissile.

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#309914 - 12/17/18 08:52 PM Re: Another Solution [Re: jgw]
jgw Offline
enthusiast

Registered: 05/22/06
Posts: 2633
Loc: Port Angeles, WA
A little bit of nuclear history. When gov decided to put nuclear someplace, for purposes of regulation, control, etc. they put it in the existing Department of Energy (DOE). Jackass put the ex governor of Texas in charge. That Governor proudly announced, when running for president, that was one of the departments he wanted to shut down. Apparently most Jackass department appointments are out of the pool of folks that want said department gone.

Anyway, the DOE. When nuclear was assigned to the DOE the DOE was completely under the thumb of the oil industry. Its generally understood that, at that time, the oil industry wanted nothing to do with nuclear and would prefer it went away as it was a direct competitor. So, they did what they could to demonize and wreck nuclear. That is the foundation of how we deal with nuclear today - no matter how safe, etc. its just plain bad - as everybody knows.

Just saying.............

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#309915 - 12/17/18 09:25 PM Re: Another Solution [Re: pondering_it_all]
Jeffery J. Haas Online   happy

It's the Despair Quotient!
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 14592
Loc: Whittier, California
Originally Posted By: pondering_it_all
I did make one mistake though in my description: You have to bombard the reactor core with neutrons, not gamma rays. (Sorry, but I'm no nuclear physicist. I have worked with some radioactive stuff, but only in medical research and one very advanced high school biology class.) That makes more sense because you have to transmute Thorium-232 into Uranium-233, which then fissions very quickly and emits lots of energy.

That's also why this is so safe: The Thorium is "fertile but not fissile" in that it does not decay, but it's easily transmuted into U-233 which is fissile.


It's a mistake that my father never would have made, but that's because my father was, in fact, a nuclear physicist.
I however, am not.

_________________________
The only people pushing the Athenian Straw Man Nonexistent Threat of Slippery Slope Windyfoggery (ASMNSSW) RE DEMOCRACY are people who have a misunderstanding/problem or hatred of democracy. (See AUTHORITARIANS)

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#309916 - 12/17/18 09:27 PM Re: Another Solution [Re: pondering_it_all]
Jeffery J. Haas Online   happy

It's the Despair Quotient!
Pooh-Bah

Registered: 08/03/04
Posts: 14592
Loc: Whittier, California
Originally Posted By: pondering_it_all
They already built one and ran it for something like 15000 hours, and that was 53 years ago! The public perception and investment climate is very poor here. That's why I suggested a rich man (like Elon Musk) would have to do it on their own, and demonstrate to everyone that it is viable and safe. Absent that Randian-hero, I suppose we just have to wait for the Chinese or Indians to start mass production.


I nominate Jeff Bezos. He is worth 138 billion, so a thorium reactor is cheap enough that he could build a couple of them and still be the richest man on Earth next to Putin.
_________________________
The only people pushing the Athenian Straw Man Nonexistent Threat of Slippery Slope Windyfoggery (ASMNSSW) RE DEMOCRACY are people who have a misunderstanding/problem or hatred of democracy. (See AUTHORITARIANS)

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