The case for Thorium. 16. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will work both as Base Load and Load Following power plants.

Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors will work both as Base Load and Load Following power plants. LFTR’s operate at a much higher temperature than conventional power plants and operate at about 45% electricity conversion efficiency, as opposed to 38% or lower for steam generators. In addition, because of the higher operating temperature it is ideal for hydrogen generation. The reactor would use the electricity generation to satisfy the current demand and produce hydrogen during times of low demand. This hydrogen would be temporarily stored and used for electricity production at peak demand. And  hydrogen power produces only water when burned, no CO2  or polluting fumes are generated. With the objective of reducing the cost of hydrogen production,  solid oxide electrolyser cells (SOECs) are especially well suited.  SOECs operate at high temperatures, typically around 800 °C. At these high temperatures a significant amount of the energy required can be provided as thermal energy (heat), and as such is termed High temperature electrolysis.

The case for Thorium. 15. No need for evacuation zones, Liquid Fuel Thorium Reactors can be placed near urban areas.

No need for evacuation zones, can be placed near urban areas. Molten Salt Thorium reactors operate at atmospheric pressure and have a very high negative temperature coefficient, so there is no risk for a boil-over. They are easily made earthquake-safe and no pressure vessel is needed. This will greatly simplify the approval process, no need for elaborate evacuation plans have to be developed. Since the Three Mile Island accident there was a thirty year gap in approvals for new nuclear plants. The “not in my backyard ” mentality reigned supreme, and delay and denial was the rule of the years. But the lawyers still got their share, leading to escalating cost for new nuclear power. In the early days of nuclear power France took the approach of building some of their nuclear plants near the Belgian and German border, so they only had to develop half of an  evacuation plan, leaving the other half to their understanding neighbors. It also leads to placing the nuclear plants where there is the least resistance, not where they are needed the most, adding to the strain on the electric grid. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors have one additional advantage. They do not need access to water, so they can be placed even in desert areas.

The case for Thorium. 14. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Nuclear reactors scale beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants.

Thorium Nuclear Power generators  scale  beautifully from small portable generators to full size power plants. One of the first applications was as an airborne nuclear reactor.

Granted this was not a Thorium breeder reactor, but it proves nuclear reactors can be made lightweight. Thorium reactors can be made even lighter as long as they are not of the breeder type.

Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Argonne national laboratories are designing a self-contained nuclear reactor with tamper-resistant features. Called SSTAR (small, sealed, transportable, autonomous reactor), this next-generation reactor will produce 10 to 100 megawatts electric and can be safely transported on ship or by a heavy-haul transport truck.

This type of reactor can be transported to disaster areas, and provide emergency power, during rescue and rebuilding efforts. This particular reactor still uses solid fuel and steam heat exchanger. A LFTR reactor with a supercritical CO2 gas heat exchanger would be even more compact and efficient.

From these compact designs, Thorium power can be scaled up to any size.

Another ballad of the Green Beret.

He was made in U.S.A.,
born in Kenya, what the hey.
this was all he had to say
He did hate the Green Beret.

Blamed Republicans each day,
They should shut up and obey.
Sign Iranian give-away
for he loathed the Green Beret.

He used blackmail every day
forcing Congress to obey.
make them do all he did say.
He despised the Green Beret.

ISIS did grow every day
everything he did and say.
Gave the Army no leeway.
Did not use the Green Beret.

He said ISIL all the day,
he did Israel betray.
The Levant is the whole bay
Useless was the Green Beret.

People still did hope and pray
for a while we went astray
Now he’s gone we did repay
and restore the Green Beret.

 

With new leadership in play

ISIS has been blown away.

Battle won, now come what may,

we still need the Green Beret.

 

For the vict’ry not yet won

and the fight has just begun.

We must choose November three

to preserve the Green Beret.

Sweden was right! No lock-down but hygiene, social separation and limited gatherings will work just as well. Herd immunity is possible to achieve.

As Europe and North America continue suffering their steady economic and social decline as a direct result of imposing “lockdown” on their populations, other countries have taken a different approach to dealing with the coronavirus threat. You wouldn’t know it by listening to western politicians or mainstream media stenographers, there are also non-lockdown countries. They are led by Sweden, Iceland, Belarus, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Surprisingly to some, their results have been as good or better than the lockdown countries, but without having to endure the socio-economic chaos we are now witnessing across the world. For this reason alone, Sweden and others like them, have already won the policy debate, as well as the scientific one too.

Unlike many others, Sweden has not enforced any strict mass quarantine measures to contain COVID-19, nor has it closed any of its borders. Rather, Swedish health authorities have issued a series of guidelines for social distancing and other common sense measures covering areas like hygiene, travel, public gatherings, and protecting the elderly and immune compromised. They have kept all preschools, primary and secondary schools open, while closing college and universities who are now doing their work and lectures online. Likewise, many bars and restaurants have remained open, and shoppers do not have to perform the bizarre ritual of queuing around the block standing 2 meters apart in order to buy groceries.

According to the country’s top scientists, they are now well underway to achieving natural herd immunity. It seems this particular Nordic model has already won the debate.

Because Sweden decided to follow real epidemiological science and pursue a common sense strategy of herd immunity, it doesn’t need to “flatten of the curve” because its strategic approach has the added benefit of achieving a much more gradual and wider spread.

This chart proves the point:

This was in May. It is now July 10, and here are the updated charts:

From a peak of 100 deaths /day and 550 cases/day Sweden is now down to an average of 4 deaths/day and an average of 435 cases/day.

Sweden is well on its way to herd immunity.

How well are the other non-lockdown countries doing?

Iceland  has a total case count of 1882 and a death count of 10, all between March 21 and April 20.  This was achieved by contact tracing and quarantine alone.

Belarus has a total case count of 64,604 and a death count of 454, and the case and death charts look like this:

Here the daily death count has not risen above 7 per day. in a country of 9.5 million.

 

Japan has a total case count of 20,371 and a death count of 981, and the case and death charts look like this:

Japan shows a unique pattern: It looked that they had beaten the coronavirus early, but then in April it started up again, and again in July, but always at manageable levels. Japan is still far away from herd immunity.

 

South Korea has a total case count of 13338 and a death count of 288, and the case and death charts look like this:

The death count rises, then stays constant for about 2 months and then declines, but slower than the new case count. South Korea took another approach than trying to reach herd immunity. They gave HydroxyChloroQuine to all people that showed symptoms as early as possible. The result is nothing short of remarkable, less than 1 coronavirus death per day in a country of 51 million people!

Taiwan has a total case count of 451 and a death count of 7. And this in a country of 24 million!

How is the United States faring compared to these countries? Is herd immunity achievable in the near future? Current cases are 3,250,705 and the current deaths are 136,158, the highest in the world/

United States has a total case count of 3,250,705 and a death count of 136,158, and the case and death charts look like this:

From a peak case rate of 31,000 cases per day and a death rare of 2,200/day the case rate has climbed to 55,000/day and the death rate has come down to about 625/day , and it seems the U.S. is lagging Sweden by about 5 weeks. In about 2 months or so the U.S. should be well on its way to herd immunity.

The death rates would be reduced to less than half if the United States adopted the policy of South Korea (and at least 9 other countries) and began to administer HydroxyChloroQuine to nearly all people that showed symptoms as early as possible.

Quotes from https://www.zerohedge.com/health/why-sweden-has-already-won-debate-covid-19-lockdown-policy

The case for Thorium 13. Virtually no spent fuel problem, very little on site storage or transport.

 Virtually no spent fuel problem, very little on site storage or transport. I have been following the events at Fukushima Nuclear Power plants disaster with great interest. How ironic that one of the greatest problems was with the spent fuel, not with the inability to shut down the working units. The spent fuel issue is the real Achilles’ heel of the Nuclear Power Industry. The cost of reprocessing and storing spent reactor fuel will burden us for centuries after the reactors themselves have been decommissioned after their useful life. Molten Salt Thorium nuclear power works differently from  conventional Uranium fueled Reactors as  the fissile fuel gets generated in the breeding process itself and nearly all fuel gets consumed as it is generated. When the process shuts down, that is it. Only the radioactivity that is en route so to say will have to be accounted for, not everything generated thus far in the process. The difference is about ten thousand to one in the size of the problem. It is high time to rebuild and expand our Nuclear power generation by switching to Thorium.

The case for Thorium. 12. Atmospheric pressure operating conditions, no risk for explosions. Much safer and simpler design.

Molten Salt nuclear Reactors operate under Atmospheric pressure  conditions, no risk for explosions. Materials subjected to high radiation tend to get brittle or soften up. Molten Salt Thorium nuclear reactors operate under atmospheric conditions so the choice of materials that can withstand both high temperatures and high radiation is much greater, leading to a superior and less expensive design.  There is no high pressure gas buildup and the separation stage can be greatly simplified, leading to a much safer design. (From Wikipedia:)

The LFTR needs a mechanism to remove the fission products from the fuel. Fission products left in the reactor absorb neutrons and thus reduce neutron economy. This is especially important in the thorium fuel cycle with few spare neutrons and a thermal neutron spectrum, where absorption is strong. The minimum requirement is to recover the valuable fissile material from used fuel.

Removal of fission products is similar to reprocessing of solid fuel elements; by chemical or physical means, the valuable fissile fuel is separated from the waste fission products. Ideally the fertile fuel (thorium or U-238) and other fuel components (e.g. carrier salt or fuel cladding in solid fuels) can also be reused for new fuel. However, for economic reasons they may also end up in the waste.

On site processing is planned to work continuously, cleaning a small fraction of the salt every day and sending it back to the reactor. There is no need to make the fuel salt very clean; the purpose is to keep the concentration of fission products and other impurities (e.g. oxygen) low enough. The concentrations of some of the rare earth elements must be especially kept low, as they have a large absorption cross section. Some other elements with a small cross section like Cs or Zr may accumulate over years of operation before they are removed.

As the fuel of a LFTR is a molten salt mixture, it is attractive to use pyroprocessing, high temperature methods working directly with the hot molten salt. Pyroprocessing does not use radiation sensitive solvents and is not easily disturbed by decay heat. It can be used on highly radioactive fuel directly from the reactor. Having the chemical separation on site, close to the reactor avoids transport and keeps the total inventory of the fuel cycle low. Ideally everything except new fuel (thorium) and waste (fission products) stays inside the plant.

One potential advantage of a liquid fuel is that it not only facilitates separating fission-products from the fuel, but also isolating individual fission products from one another, which is lucrative for isotopes that are scarce and in high-demand for various industrial (radiation sources for testing welds via radiography), agricultural (sterilizing produce via irradiation), and medical uses (Molybdenum-99 which decays into Technetium-99m, a valuable radiolabel dye for marking cancerous cells in medical scans).

Mo-99 is used in hospitals to produce the technetium-99m employed in around 80% of nuclear imaging procedures. Produced in research reactors, Mo-99 has a half-life of only 66 hours and cannot be stockpiled, and security of supply is a key concern. Most of the world’s supply currently comes from just four reactors in Belgium, the Netherlands, Russia and South Africa, and recent years have illustrated how unexpected shutdowns at any of those reactors can quickly lead to shortages. Furthermore, most Mo-99 is currently produced from HEU targets, which are seen as a potential nuclear proliferation risk.

With the Mo-99 having a half-life of 66 hours and being continuously separated out from the fertile core in a LFTR, this seems to be the ideal vehicle to cheaply produce ample supplies of this valuable medical resource.

The case for Thorium. 11. Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors have a very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control.

Molten Salt Nuclear Reactors have a very high negative temperature coefficient leading to a safe and stable control. This is another beauty of the molten salt design. The temperature coefficient is highly negative, leading to a safe design enabling simple and consistent feedback. What does that mean?  It means that when the temperature of the fissile core rises, the efficiency of the reaction goes down, leading to less heat generated. There is no risk for a thermal runaway. In contrast,  graphite moderated generators can have a positive temperature coefficient which leads to complicated control, necessitating many safety circuits to ensure proper startup, operation and shutdown. Their worst failure mode is they go prompt critical, and no containment vessel can contain the explosion that would occur, so they were built without one. There have been several major accidents in graphite moderated reactors, with the Windscale fire and the Chernobyl disaster probably the best known.

The case for Thorium. 10. Molten Salt Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors cannot have a meltdown, the fuel is already molten, and it is a continuous process. No need for refueling shutdowns.

With Molten Salt nuclear Reactors there is no risk for a meltdown, the fuel is already molten, and that is a safe design. The fissile fuel in a Thorium reactor is U-233 in the form of UraniumFluoride (UF4) salt which also contains Lithium and Beryllium to lower the melting point, the operating temperature is around 700C.  In its molten form the salt has a very low vapor pressure. The salt flows easily through the heat exchangers and the separators. The salt is very toxic, but since it is completely sealed it is not corrosive. Being a fluid, it is constantly mixed for optimum efficiency. The reactor will never have to be shut down for refueling, it is a continuous flow process. Uranium-235 Nuclear reactors on the other hand have to be shut down for refueling and rebalancing of the fuel rods a little more often than once every two years. The average shutdown is 35 days, or about 5% of the time. Then comes the major problem of safely and securely transporting and reprocessing the spent fuel. In a LFTR the fuel is spent as it is produced, so the fissile inventory is constantly kept at a minimum, and fission products and extra generated U-233 is separated out. this is a much cleaner process than reprocessing spent fuel.

The case for Thorium. 9. Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe, only gravity needed for safe shutdown.

Molten Salt Thorium Reactors are earthquake safe. Thorium reactors have a very simple and compact design where gravity is the only thing needed to stop the nuclear reaction. Conventional nuclear reactors depend on external power to shut down after a SCRAM, where poison rods fall down to halt the reaction.  The next figure shows the concept of a Thorium reactor.

The idea is to empty the fissile U-233 core through gravity alone. All that is needed is a melt-plug that is constantly cooled by cold air. In an earthquake or complete electric failure the cold air flow automatically shuts off, and since the fuel is already molten, it will melt the plug, and the molten fluid will run down into channels like pig-iron into heat exchangers that absorb the residual heat.

As we can see the reactor hardened structure is compact, and can be completely earthquake and tsunami proof. What can be sheared off are the steam pipes and external power, but even then the reactor shutdown will  be complete safe without any additional power.