MSR Benefits

Molten Salt Reactor Advantages

  • Molten Fuel - Fuel circulates through the reactor, fission products get removed, for over 99% fuel use (vs. LWR ~3%). No long-term radioactive waste.
  • Salt Cooled - Coolant far below boiling point, reactor operates at atmospheric pressure. Fuel dissolved in stable salt (no water), no loss of coolant accident possible. No need for high-pressure safety systems.
  • High Inherent Safety - No water, no high pressure, nothing that could propel radioactive materials into the environment. Thermal expansion/contraction of molten fuel salt strongly regulates fission rate; MSR is a very stable reactor. Simple safety systems work even if no electricity or operators.
  • Easy Construction and Siting - Low pressure operation, so no high-pressure safety systems. No water, so no steam containment building. Reactor factory assembled, with modern quality control, sensors and communication.
  • Lower Cost - Even with exotic materials, construction costs will be dramatically lower than LWR — factory construction, minimal manual on-site preparation. No long-term radioactive waste, so no long-term storage.
  • High Temperature Operation - Heat to generate electricity, desalinate water, produce CO2-neutral vehicle fuel, etc.
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A LFTR is a type of Molten Salt Reactor. With molten fuel instead of fuel rods, MSR can use all three of the available nuclear fuels: uranium-235 (what most reactors use, only 0.72% of naturally occurring uranium), uranium-233 (which is bred in the reactor from thorium-232), or plutonium-239 (bred from uranium-238, 99.28% of natural uranium).

Molten Salt Reactors can consume long-term nuclear waste from other reactors, nuclear weapons, or depleted uranium (any isotope of U, Pu or transuranic elements).

LFTR is a type of Molten Salt Reactor with equipment to convert plentiful thorium into uranium (U233) to use as fuel. It can also use plutonium from LWR waste. LFTR is not very efficient at using depleted uranium (need a Fast-Spectrum reactor to fission U-238 effectively; in a thermal-spectrum reactor like LFTR or LWR, would convert some U-238 to plutonium which is fissile).

Because a LFTR fissions 99%+ of the fuel (whether thorium, or plutonium from nuclear waste), it consumes all the uranium and transuranics leaving no long-term radioactive waste. 83% of the waste products are safely stabilized within 10 years. The remaining 17% need to be stored less than 350 years to become completely benign.

“LFTR technology can also be used to reprocess and consume the remaining fissile material in spent nuclear fuel stockpiles around the world and to extract and resell many of the other valuable fission byproducts that are currently deemed hazardous waste in their current spent fuel rod form. The U.S. nuclear industry has already allocated $25 billion for storage or reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and the world currently has over 340,000 tonnes of spent LWR fuel with enough usable fissile material to start one 100 MWe LFTR per day for 93 years. (A 100 MW LFTR requires 100 kg of fissile material (U-233, U-235, or Pu-239) to start the chain reaction). LFTR can also be used to consume existing U-233 stockpiles at ORNL ($500 million allocated for stockpile destruction) and plutonium from weapons stockpiles.” FLiBe Energy

FS-MSRs essentially avoid the entire fuel qualification issue in that they are tolerant of any fissile material composition, with their inherent strong negative thermal reactivity feedback providing the control necessary to accommodate a shifting fuel feed stream. Fast Spectrum Molten Salt Reactor Options, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Transuranics (Np, Pu, Am, Cm) are the real reason for “Yucca Mountain” repositories [with PWR/LWR]. All MSR designs can take TRUs from other reactors into the reactor to fission off. TEAC3 Dr. David LeBlanc

A 1GW MSR would consume almost 1 ton of “spent” nuclear fuel/year. 340,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel in the world (and more each year). Although costly to extract from fuel rods, 6600 tons of it in MSRs could replace all the coal, oil, natural gas, and uranium the world used in 2007. Since MSRs can be built on assembly lines, build 6600 x 1GW Molten Salt Reactors, have them operate for 30 years and rebuild once, and we eliminate All current spent nuclear fuel stockpiles. Generates 6600 GW electricity for 60 years, and/or use heat from the reactors, water and CO2, to make carbon-neutral car and truck fuel!

LFTR Can Replace All Fossil Fuels

How does a fluoride reactor use thorium?

from Flibe Energy LCES 2011

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