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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My responses to Decades After Chernobyl, Wildlife Thriving Inside Exclusion Zone, by Nick Visser

Park Overall · Tusculum College
Lars Taylor and, no one is mentioning the 1000 mile barrier radius. Christ, is this how the nuke industry is going to convince us they are good for us? Really, folks, this is out of control………….

@ParkOverall remember, Chernobyl was a very different type of nuclear reactor, RBMK, than the reactor the USA and Europe and Japan etc have been using (LWR). RBMK was a modified weapons-grade plutonium production reactor, with a “positive void coefficient of reactivity”, meaning simple steam bubbles would make it go out of control, illegal in all other countries before USSR built it.

LWR physically can not go out of control (Chernobyl went in minutes to over 1000 times normal power before steam pressure exploded the multi-ton lid off the reactor). Fukushima would have been avoided by providing electric power to the cooling system; instead they had the diesel generator in the basement where it got destroyed, unlike all other nuclear plants in the region where the generator was above the flood zone.

LWR wasn’t the choice of the nuclear physicists and engineers, but rather the choice of USA Congress, in the pockets of the coal and oil companies. LWR was literally the worst nuclear reactor the coal/oil companies could get us to build. Even in 1962 the Atomic Energy Commission and the patent holder of LWR told the President and Congress to not use LWR for electric power production, but to use fast breeder reactors and the Molten Salt Reactor; but Congress knew who owned them.

Modern designs of reactors, including the Integral Fast Reactor, Molten Salt Reactor, and fast-spectrum Molten Salt Reactor, all have no possibility of Chernobyl-type accidents, and no chance of Fukushima-type loss of coolant accidents (demonstrated by reactor tests).

Molten Salt Reactors eliminate the water-based LWR risks (high pressure explosions, hydrogen explosions, loss of coolant) by not using any water, and use over 99% of the fuel (no long-term waste storage).

[The article says “1000 square mile”, which would be, rounding up, an 18 mile radius.]

Jack Everett “The problems in the hot areas will disapate as radiation levels drop, but these animals are thriving under the adverse conditions humans have caused, conditions that would destroy human life very fast.”
The radiation levels outside the sealed reactor buildings has been below the natural radiation levels in many popular places to live or vacation, for a long time. The highest radiation was from fission products (from the reactor getting to over 1000 times normal power) with very short half-lives, mostly seconds to 1 year.Pandora’s Promise shows people who “snuck back in” to their homes a few years after Chernobyl, and they’re healthy still. Also shows radiation measurements in several places around the world higher than in the town where Chernobyl workers lived.

Joseph Senecal · Science Teacher at Denver School of Science and Technology
So, what this means is, as far as I see it, that chronic U-235 exposure is less dangerous for animals than chronic human exposure? Somehow, I’d believe it!

Half life of U-235 is so long the radiation is minimal. Fuel pellet assembly workers use gloves to keep the uranium clean, not for radiation protection.

Most of the fission products have half lives well under 1 year, these are the highly radioactive materials; they are below background levels of radiation several years.

Two fission products have half lives about 35 years, these are still biological concerns, and a very small percentage of the waste thrown into the atmosphere.

Other isotopes, including U-235, have half lives so long, just don’t ingest them. Plus, all but gamma radiation is stopped by thin paper/plastic/metal or your skin; gamma is blocked by a few feet of packed dirt.

Molten Salt Reactors would fission or, by neutron bombardment cause to decay, all long term fission products and actinides. Molten fuel circulating in the reactor can have fission products removed and stored, so over 99% fuel use is not blocked as it is in LWR (which uses < 3% of the fuel).

Fritz Raake · Works at Solaris Energy Systems
Some of the isotopes released have a 1/2 life of 50,000 years and 97% of radiation is still trapped inside the reactor. I worked in the area (~100 miles away from Chernobyl so not in the exclusion zone) about 12 years ago and we checked the geiger counter every evening and it went off the scale. No local agri produce was allowed to be consumed. What most people don’t realize (or want to publish) is that there are 1000’s of hot spots in Belarus, Ukraine & Russia. Of course wildlife will thrive without human interference but it doesn’t say anything about the overall health of those populations. It’s only now that we see a huge increase in children’s cancer rates, heart problems & deformaties in those 3 countries but the official line is very different for obvious reasons.
1000’s of first responders died within 12 months of the accident – the official figure is 31…

Fritz Raake The longer the half-life, the lower the radiation. The highly radioactive fission products were those with half life in seconds or minutes. 83% of U235 fission products, by mass, have half life under 1 year; these are now far below background radiation. So I wonder what scale your geiger counters used?

I have no doubt there are 1000s of hot spots, but how hot? How does that compare to areas where there has been no nuclear reactor accident? How many of those hot spots are from USSR nuclear weapons testing or production, not Chernobyl, as bad as it was?

How many of those cancers are from Chernobyl, vs nuclear weapons production, or chemical causes? Chernobyl shouldn’t have happened, and there was high radiation released directly into the air (no containment building at all), and the USSR didn’t even evacuate people for days. But there are many stronger cancer-causing agents known to be in many of those areas.

High altitude (more gamma radiation from space) cities on granite mountains (granite contains radioactive material) often have higher radiation levels than places just outside the reactor building.

Remember, Chernobyl was a type of reactor known to be able to have uncontrollable fission rate, and it didn’t even have a containment building. Chernobyl was really bad, and completely preventable (it shouldn’t have been built). LWR, the most common type of nuclear power reactor, can’t have that kind of accident.

There are even safer reactors than LWR, that also cost much less to build, and that leave under 1% of the fuel as waste (vs LWR ~ 97%). Molten Salt Reactors (such as LFTR) can’t have Chernobyl or Fukushima-type accidents, and would be price competitive with coal.

Molten Salt Reactors make a great base load power to back up solar power, easily load following as solar power generation changes; maybe Solaris will check out MSR, much better than coal for base load.
Fritz Raake · Works at Solaris Energy Systems
Another scam in the long list of nuclear industry scams. Nuclear is astronomically more expensive when you add in the long term clean up, storage and security costs as Germany has painfully discovered.
I’m one of those ‘environmentalists’ (aren’t we all?) but will spend the rest of my days (as I have done for the last 40 years) fighting against the calleous nuclear industry.

Fritz Raake “Nuclear is astronomically more expensive when you add in the long term clean up, storage and security costs ”

The Light Water Reactor, that Germany and USA use, was selected by the coal and oil industries, that owned/own USA Congress. LWR is cooled by water (stupid, increases risk and cost), and only uses ~3% of the fuel.

If Congress had taken the Atomic Energy Commission recommendations, the nuclear physicists and designers recommendations, we wouldn’t have had Three Mile Island, Fukushima, or any other “loss of coolant accidents”, and we wouldn’t have long term nuclear waste. We also wouldn’t have a coal industry.

Water cooled, solid fueled nuclear reactors have safety equipment costs, manual construction costs (especially the huge steam containment building); other types of nuclear reactors don’t have those.

Your statement is not precise, you should have said “LWR is astronomically…”

Chernobyl was a type of reactor (RBMK) that could go to over 1000 times normal power in a few minutes, simply by steam bubbles forming when stupid managers (backed by men with automatic weapons) overrode safety procedures; steam pressure exploded the reactor. Chernobyl should never have been built; it was not an accident, but “an accident waiting to happen” — reactors with “positive void coefficient of reactivity” (higher fission rate if steam bubbles form) were illegal outside USSR before Chernobyl was built. The most common reactor type used, LWR, physically can not do that (steam bubbles would decrease fission rate). Modern designs of nuclear reactor, especially Molten Salt Reactors and IFR, can not have either Chernobyl nor Fukushima types of accidents. MSR has no water, the fuel is strongly chemically bound to the salt coolant, loss of coolant is physically impossible; simple thermal expansion/contraction of the molten fuel makes MSR an extremely stable reactor.

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