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 response to comments on

We can reduce CO2 emissions completely, but not with wind and solar.

Wind is too low density and intermittent, even if we were willing to devote so many acres to windmills. Wind + solar still intermittent. (Most solar “solutions” don’t mention the coal plant providing “base load power”) Wind plus solar plus massive energy storage systems, so a month of bad weather doesn’t cripple the city? Extremely expensive.

Worse than sea level rise, is ocean acidification. We can use MSR, best solution I’ve found, to power removing carbonic acid (CO2+water) from oceans, which is already killing plankton and other microscopic-shelled organisms (kill the base of the food chain and we cause a mass extinction). Perhaps a good solution would be grinding basalt rock, which absorbs CO2 making a solid, and spread that throughout the oceans. We need the cleanest way to provide that much power.

Study for California, based on actual wind and sun levels throughout each day in many locations throughout the state, plus wave and tide and off-shore wind, no coal, no natural gas, providing full electric and vehicle needs 99.5% of the time (trade surplus with other states) would work. Not quite as expensive as energy storage.

Molten Salt Reactors, a type of modern nuclear power, completely different design than LWR we’ve been using for decades, would cost about 1/10th that solution for California, and work for every state.

Molten Salt Reactors have :

  • no risk of pressure explosions (run at atmospheric pressure),
  • no water-based risk (uses no water),
  • no risk of melting through the reactor (internal temperatures always far below melting temp of materials), and
  • no long-term waste (use over 99% of fuel, unlike LWR 3% of fuel).

We ran a demonstration MSR in 1960s, but Congress was in the pockets of the coal/oil industries. We can have factories built, with modern quality control and instrumentation and monitoring and communications and security, within 5 years. Ship fully assembled, install underground.

We can even use MSR to desalinate water more efficiently (high temperature operation makes several types of desalination plants work better).

Matt Kressin — You hit on something important. A much bigger threat than global warming is how we will get water to tens of millions of western Americans. That should concern us far far more than a few inches of sea level rise.

Matt Kressin — Several types of water desalination work more efficiently (overall energy) when use high-temperature water. Molten Salt Reactors, even after generating electricity, can provide heat and electricity for water desalination. MSR has no risk of loss of coolant (uses no water), has no risk of pressure explosions (no water, so operates at atmospheric pressure), and leaves almost 0 long-term waste (fission over 99% of the fuel, vs Light Water Reactors using 3%). MSR is inherently stable, greater safety at dramatically lower cost than LWR.

CO2 + water make carbonic acid, good at disolving microscopic sea shells, for example plankton. Killing plankton, the base of the ocean food chain, has already started, and will lead to a mass extinction. Modern types of nuclear reactor, especially Molten Salt Reactors, can power grinding basalt rock (which absorbs CO2 and makes a solid) to spread through the ocean, or whatever better solution we find.

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