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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“Energy intensity improvements can be achieved by making an economy more energy efficient (more economic output per unit of energy consumption) and by switching from energy intensive industries (such as manufacturing) to less intensive ones. Carbon intensity improvements are achieved by switching from energy sources that emit a lot of carbon (eg, coal) to ones that emit less carbon (eg, natural gas) or no carbon (eg, nuclear, hydro, wind, solar).

“In the United States since 1940 the energy intensity of the economy has declined by nearly 70 percent and carbon intensity by 24 percent, while economy-wide carbon dioxide emissions have nonetheless tripled (from 1.9 billion tonnes carbon dioxide in 1940 to 5.5 billion tonnes in 2011) as a result of population and GDP growth.”

I commented:
All Molten Salt Reactors (including Thorium Molten Salt Reactor, LFTR, etc) have many advantages over Light Water Reactors (LWR) that we have been using:
– use no water (can operate in deserts), cooled by molten salts that can’t boil away;
– have no water-based risks (steam pressure explosions, loss of coolant accidents, hydrogen explosions), no huge steam containment building needed;
– since the fuel is molten, could eliminate long-term nuclear waste from LWR (fission well over 99% of it, converting it into mostly 10-year waste and a little 350-year waste, nothing longer);
– produce minimal long-term nuclear waste (well under 1% of LWR), and far less toxic chemicals than coal
– use the high heat for making electricity, desalinating water, making vehicle fuel from water and CO2, making ammonia, many industrial processes.
– work well with wind/solar power, providing “baseload power” instead of natural gas or coal.

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