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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Thorium is abundant in the Earth’s crust, about as common as lead, three times as common as Uranium-238, 400 times as common as U-235. A LFTR can use all Thorium.

LFTRs can fission All isotopes of uranium (almost all reactors in world only use U-235, about 0.7% of natural Uranium mined). No expensive uranium separation.

One pound of Thorium in a LFTR yields as much power as 300 pounds of Uranium in a conventional reactor — or 3.5 million pounds of coal.

A golf-ball sized piece of Thorium (100g) would produce more energy than you would use your entire life; 1 ton produces 1 GigaWatt electricity for over a year.

USA has 440,000 tons, over half readily accessible. Update: “A single new deposit in Lemhi Pass Idaho has recently added 600,000 tonnes to the world’s proven reserves increasing reserves by 50%”. D. LeBlanc / Nuclear Engineering and Design 240 (2010) 1644-1656

Norway has about 1 million tons. Global reserves are enough to power the world for over 1,000 years. Thorium is also common and easy to find on the Moon and Mars.

Thorium is commonly mined as a byproduct of mining for rare-earth elements, and discarded (3200 tons stored in the NV desert).

Thorium is an Alpha emitter and is essentially harmless relative to common things in the natural environment. Alpha particles have no penetrating strength and cannot pass through human skin or thin plastic film.

The following emit more dangerous radiation than Thorium: sunlight, Radon from a gas stove top, Potassium in a banana, X-rays, frequent air travel, high altitude exposure, TSA full body scans, etc.

“NRC-compliant storage* and the potential for future environmental liabilities are unknown, making the mining / refining of Thorium-bearing Rare Earth Elements outside of China or Malaysia impractical / unrealistic.”
*Yucca Mountain type Permanent Geologic Storage
Kennedy TEAC3

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