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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Of course there were many “wild” comments to Discover Magazine’s article that leaned towards the more tasty tidbits, on “20 Things You Didn’t Know About Nuclear Accidents“.

disqus_atlq8Zmtsd WhatTheFlux

Just have to point out that the “20 things you didn’t know” articles are a regular thing. This isn’t sensationalism. They just chose a topic people are interested in.

In fact, if memory serves Discover authors have penned multiple articles advocating nuclear power as a time bridge from fossil fuels to green sources of energy that don’t have the same long term storage logistics that nuclear does.

George Lerner:

“same long term storage logistics that nuclear does” — If the only possible type of nuclear power were the Light Water Reactor, then we’d have to store the “spent” nuclear fuel for over 100,000 years. But there are very different reactors possible.

Molten Salt Reactors can have the fission products removed (the main ones are gasses that bubble right out of the molten fuel and are collected). MSR can use over 99% of the fuel. Some types of MSR can fission even the depleted uranium left over from making LWR fuel.

The design of the LWR fuel pellets is what makes LWR leave about 98% of the fuel as “waste”, not something inherent in all forms of nuclear power.

nikkkom reply to George Lerner

> Molten Salt Reactors can have the fission products removed (the main ones are gasses that bubble right out of the molten fuel and are collected)

So every MSR reactor needs a little reprocessing plant next to it? Wonderful.

What is the track record of US building reprocessing plants? What do you say? “The only facility is Hanford Vitrification Plant, which is not a fully fledged reprocessing facility, but it already costs $12.7 billion”?

Somehow I’m not feeling reassured.

My reply to nikkkom:

No, not “PUREX Reprocessing” nor “Hanford Vitrification”. Simple chemical processes, used in many industries, that remove the fission products from molten salt, and leave the uranium (and all transuranic elements, and all long-term fission products) in the reactor to fission or decay.

You think you found “the right answer”, but you didn’t consider what if Molten Salt Reactors are not the same as Light Water Reactors (don’t need PUREX); and you didn’t think that Hanford Vitrification Plan isn’t a Light Water Reactor “reprocessing plant” but to clean up after one of the primary “develop nuclear weapons before Hitler does” sites; cleaning up the waste from that is far better than if Hitler had gotten a nuclear weapon first, and far more complex to clean up than what LWR produces.

Molten Salt Reactors, including separating fission products, will cost comparable to coal plants per GW-year electricity, with lower health costs and fewer deaths than coal, with less radioactive material in the environment than coal, and without need for geologic storage nor PUREX nor vitrification.

JebusKhrist:

It’s probably important to note that per kilowatt of energy nuclear is by far the safest.

WhatTheFlux reply to JebusKhrist

And the most reliable, the lowest CO2, and the smallest footprint, too. And the upcoming generation of reactors is even better – no meltdowns, passive cooling, and the consumption of nuclear “waste” as fuel.

nikkkom reply to WhatTheFlux

> And the upcoming generation of reactors is even better – no meltdowns

I flat out don’t believe in these promises. I did believe nuclear crowd figured it out after Chernobyl, but Fukushima changed my mind. They CAN’T prevent meltdowns.

George Lerner reply to nikkkom

“They can’t prevent meltdowns” — all Fukushima needed was a diesel generator flown in from anywhere in the world, a few people with the tools and expertise to connect it, and some fuel. TEPCO blocked help until it was too late.

All the Several Other nuclear reactors needed in the area to prevent meltdowns was: a) adequate sea wall, which TEPCO didn’t build; b) diesel generators located above any flood area, instead of in the basement at Fukushima. — TEPCO didn’t do what all the other nuclear plant operators in Japan did.

LWR (the type of reactor at Fukushima and most places in the world) is a very different type of reactor than the RBMK used at Chernobyl. You can’t use RBMK to make statements about LWR safety, and you can’t use USSR “follow orders or I will shoot you” (the real cause of the Chernobyl accident) to make claims about USA, or Europe, or Japan cultures of safety.

Molten Salt Reactors use molten fuel dissolved in molten salt coolant. The coolant is far below its boiling temperature, and is chemically bound to the fuel; loss of coolant accident is impossible. Thermal expansion/contraction strongly regulates the fission rate by adjusting the fuel density — the temperature of the fuel is very stable. The temperature can not get high enough to melt the reactor vessel.

There are several other types of nuclear reactor that have been demonstrated to not melt down or have any other damage even if they lose all coolant and all electric power.

LWR is a good reactor design, but far from the best.

nikkkom reply to WhatTheFlux

There won’t be upcoming generations of reactors. Solar and wind is wiping the floor with nuclear crowd right now, economically speaking. Solar alone grows by ~40 GW per year. Nuclear? By ~0 GW per year.

Solar: zero maintenance. Zero kilometers of piping. No pumps. No moving parts, no lubrication. No water to keep ultra-pure. No fuel needed. And of course, zero kilograms of Cs-137 and Sr-90 produced.

Of course, solar needs more land. This would be a problem if we would not have enough dry desert land. Guess what? We do have WAY MORE than enough desert land to power USA and even entire world entirely by solar power alone.

George Lerner nikkkom • 4 months ago

Molten Salt Reactors have no water and no high pressure. How would Cs137 and Sr90 get out of the reactor building?

Other than when we attach MSR to existing electric generators (for example, replace a coal plant heat with MSR heat); MSR plants use no water. (Those existing generators are turned by steam. MSR heat transfer units could heat the steam, never any contact with any radioactive materials.)

Any new electric generator for use with MSR would probably use helium or other inert gas, they work better, high temperature gasses are more efficient.

MSR would use Less water in deserts than solar installations of the same power generated per day. Solar panels would be cleaned often, probably by water; please don’t use guys with brooms, they’ll break the panels too often and hurt themselves.

The only water use for MSR plants would be for periodically cleaning the windows. And let’s have a little desert landscaping, water the cactus and palo verde trees for shade, occasionally.

For ocean-side power plants, Molten Salt Reactors can produce heat to desalinate water. Over 10% of California’s electricity is used getting water from N.CA to the rest of the state. With the drought, they need water for irrigation almost as much as they need electricty.

Steven reply to JebusKhrist
[several links, over several posts. Here’s some of them.]
The lies are all yours dummkopf:

http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/october26/abrams-102605.html

Stop it.
US Department of Energy – nuclear facilities under DOE management:
http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/ocas/pdfs/abrwh/pres/2014/dol-update110614.pdf

George Lerner reply to Steven

You’re not reading your own sources very carefully.

The Stanford abrams-102605 link is mostly about atomic bomb survivors’ cancer rates, or about low levels of radiation everyone faces, “Background radiation from the natural environment — including outer space, the ground, and basic activities such as eating, drinking and breathing — accounts for about 82 percent of human exposure, while
man-made radiation from sources including medical X-rays and consumer products accounts for the remaining 18 percent.”

Neither of these is talking about what Light Water Reactors produce!

nikkkom replyt to JebusKhrist

Japan will now need to pay $200bn or more for cleaning after the “safest” source of energy.

USSR has all its economic savings from nuclear power erased just by one accident.

Nuclear power is cool technology, but to be operated safely enough not to turn thousands of sq.kms uninhabitable for centuries it requires a level of honesty, thoroughness and attention to detail not attainable with average today’s humans and their social structure.

George Lerner nikkkom • 4 months ago

You don’t realize Chernobyl wasn’t an “accident”, stupid USSR management responded to alarms going off with “silence those alarms, we’re doing the test on schedule as planned”; they didn’t have to remind anyone “do what I say or I will shoot you”. The RBMK reactor did what it was Designed to do when run by people managed by jackals. (Steam bubbles made the reactor with a “positive void coefficient of reactivity” go in minutes to over 1000x normal power. Illegal type of reactor in all other countries Before the Chernobyl reactor was built.)

TEPCO didn’t follow basic maintenance procedures for their LWR reactors. All other nuclear plant operators in the region did, and those reactors are undamaged. TEPCO didn’t build a sea wall; others did. TEPCO had the diesel backup generator in a flood area; others had diesel generators above flood areas.

Molten Salt Reactors, Integral Fast Reactors, and several other reactor designs, would have been undamaged by Chernobyl or Fukushima stupid management. By design, even without “honesty, thoroughness and attention to detail”.

JebusKhrist:

It’s probably important to note that per kilowatt of energy nuclear is by far the safest.

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