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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Heat for Industrial Use

With molten fuel and coolant that won’t boil away, LFTRs can operate safely at much higher temperatures than LWRs or PWRs.

Industrial processes could use the heat, to split water for hydrogen fuel cells, or make methanol to replace gasoline and diesel (removing CO2 from the air), or ammonia for fertilizer. Carbon neutral gasoline and diesel, sustainable and self-produced. TEDxYYC – Kirk Sorensen – Thorium

Using heat directly from the reactor to make these (instead of burning coal or natural gas), is much more efficient. (Even more efficient than using wind to make electricity at off-peak hours to make gasoline-replacements, like Doty Energy.)

After generating electricity in a Brayton-cycle turbine, the remaining high heat from LFTRs can also be used to desalinate seawater. “After energy, fresh water is one of our greatest challenges going forward with future development.” Kirk Sorensen @ MRU on LFTR

“With the recent invention of the lower-temperature uranium carbonate-based hydrogen production cycle, FS-MSRs would be able to efficiently generate hydrogen, enabling the plant to have a near-zero carbon balance while producing hydrocarbon fuel.” Fast Spectrum Molten Salt Reactor Options, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Heat for Making Hydrocarbon Fuels

“The capability to efficiently produce large amounts of hydrogen enables high-temperature reactors to expand their role in meeting world’s energy needs into hydrocarbon energy systems. An example thermochemical cycle for the production of gasoline using a high-temperature reactor, water, and carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant is shown [below]. The production of methanol from carbon dioxide (e.g., from flue gas) and hydrogen, as well as the conversion of methanol and additional hydrogen into gasoline, is already proven technology. Thus, a potential route to minimizing U.S. dependence on imported oil for gasoline is economically producing large quantities of hydrogen, which large-size, high-temperature reactors makes possible.” Fast Spectrum Molten Salt Reactor Options, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 2011

Removing CO2 from the air is important, removing CO2 from the oceans is essential. The oceans are already becoming more acidic, which interferes with the forming of calcium carbonate — what sea shells are made of, what plankton skeletons are made of. CO2 in the water is threatening the entire food chain of the ocean. “We are 0.1 pH away from the source of food not being able to live in the ocean.” Alexander Cannara – Energy Basics @ TEAC3.
“The study found a correlation between periods of rapid acidification and periods when the shell-like plates that cover certain types of algae and plankton shrunk in size. The study also found that at the boundary between Paleocene and Eocene periods (about 55 million years ago), a large release of carbon caused temperatures and ocean acidity to rise, leading to mass extinctions of deep-sea foraminifers—one of the most common marine plankton species—as well as the collapse of coral reefs in shallow waters… studies and monitoring in the Arctic Ocean, the Puget Sound, shellfish hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere have concluded that acidification is already having impacts on marine life, such as compromising the ability of oysters and other organisms to build the protective shells they need to survive.” Study Finds Ocean Acidification Rate is Highest in 300 Million Years, CO2 is Culprit

High temperature reactor thermochemical power cycle for production of gasoline

Fast Spectrum Molten Salt Reactor Options, Oak Ridge Nat’l Labs

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