Heat for Industrial Use
Beyond making electricity, molten salt reactors can be used for industrial heat. With molten fuel and coolant that won’t boil away, MSRs can operate safely at much higher temperatures than LWRs or PWRs. Typical operating temperatures would be 700°C to 1000°C or higher, depending on the materials chosen for the reactor vessel and pipes.
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 make ammonia for fertilizer. Carbon-neutral gasoline and diesel, sustainable and self-produced. TEDxYYC – Kirk Sorensen – Thorium
Using heat directly from the reactor (instead of burning coal or natural gas to make electricity), 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, or during times when electricity demand is low, the remaining high heat from MSRs 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
Heat for Making Hydrocarbon Fuels
“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
“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
Reducing Ocean Acidification
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