Clean and Doable Liquid Fission (LF) Energy Roadmap for Powering Our World 1

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  1. Since 2011 ~600 Chinese scientists work to solve the problems the MSR Experiment at ORNL didn’t solve. Despite getting all info from the old ORNL scientists, it seems they don’t make progress. Their 2MWth demo should be running now, but they didn’t start construction yet.

    One of the unsolved problems:
    The high (700degr) temperature in combination with the molten fluoride salt wears the special steel developed at ORNL, Hastelly-N, still too fast.
    The Chinese concluded that they should find better steel (but didn’t succeed) and that a different fluoride salt should be developed which would allow to operate at 650 degrees (unclear whether they found something suitable).

    The other solution is pursued by some new ventures:
    Exchange the whole reactor after 4years. Which is rather expensive.
    Especially since cleaning the old radio-active reactors with radio-active fluoride won’t be simple.

    So it’s not strange that MSR stayed an unfulfilled promise in the past half century.

    1. Corrosion rates are manageable. Thorcon expects less than 25 microns per year of erosion of our standard 316 stainless steel. In the 4-year replacement life of our major reactor components, this is about 1/10th of a millimeter of corrosion depth. The thinnest components are the primary heat exchanger tubes at about 1.25mm wall thickness. We have an early warning system to detect impending tube failure and a standby module to use with minimal delay if early corrosion is detected. Worries about corrosion are highly exaggerated by people without actual molten salt experience.

      How are you so expert about the reasons that the Chinese effort is running behind schedule? Perhaps reasons other than corrosion are at work. For example, they have chosen to use a salt formulation requiring isotopically enriched lithium which is unavailable commercially.

      > Exchange the whole reactor after 4years. Which is rather expensive.

      Many people manage to replace their cars every 4 years. Replacing the Thorcon reactor core in fact is not a significant operating expense. It is much more expensive to design for 40 year life. We plan to refurbish and recycle almost all of the core components (by mass). The small amount of primary heat exchanger tube is cheap to replace.

      1. ORNL decided that 316 stainless steel wouldn’t do, not even for the experiment (~18months full load), and found it necessary to develop far more expensive Hastelloy-N.

        How do you refurbish radio-active steel components (pipes, pump, heat exchanger tubes, vessel) which have hair cracks?
        Seems to me that producing new is cheaper.

        What about the stability problem ORNL experienced after closing the reactor?

        1. The metallurgist on our team, recently retired from ORNL, disagrees with you. He is confident that 316 will work fine for all the structural steel in contact with salt. We might need something fancier for the HX tubes, but he thinks 316 will have adequate service life even there as well.

          We refurbish the HX by replacing the tube bundle. The thicker wall downcomer and shell will not be significantly impacted by “hair cracks” if we design in enough margin. It doesn’t take much. Also, nickle based alloys are fundamentally different to iron based alloys in their corrosion properties. What happens to hastalloy will not be the same as what happens to 316 steel. Also, a titanium modified hastalloy was developed which is relatively immune to thallium induced corrosion.

          As for the “stability problem ORNL experienced”… We propose to not leave the reactor for several decades with solidified salt in it. That was a stupidity of the national labs funding process. Basically the lab manager (Union Carbide) played chicken with Congress saying they would not spend ~$50k to remove uranium from the salt before long-term shutdown unless they got budget for it. No budget came. Uranium was left in. Radiolysis released fluorine. Fluorine combined with UF4 to make volatile UF6. UF6 moved down the carbon beds. The Lab found a way to bill for the new “emergency” and extracted several million dollars. That’s one way that government processes are different from profit-minded private enterprise. I’m not saying we are perfect, but we won’t make that particular mistake again.

          1. Chris,
            So according to you?
            ORNL didn’t need the expensive special steel, Hastelloy-N, which they developed for their experiment in order to avoid fast wear of the vessel, pipes, etc.
            While their Hastelloy-N experienced wear and some leaks despite the ~18months full load.

            Furthermore the major Chinese project (600 scientist) is wasting major money trying to develop a better steel than Hastelloy-N after getting all details from the most important involved ORNL scientists during their visit to ORNL. They didn’t succeed yet in 2015; check the presentation of Rory O’Sullivan at the Delft 2015 Thorium symposium.

            I realize you exchange the hot parts after 4 year, but find it hard to believe that you can reuse those parts if they are made from 316 steel.
            Did you do endurance tests at 700°C with similar fluoride salt, velocities and neutron bombardments?

            1. @Bas

              Considering the fact that the ORNL project was a pure research effort with no expectation of producing a near term commercial product, it is quite likely that the decision to use Hastelloy-N was driven by a desire for knowledge accumulation. It was not an engineering decision to produce a product that provided adequate service life for a competitive price.

              It is worth knowing that the principles involved in ThorCon are hard core realists who know a thing or two about designing, building and operating commercial products in harsh, high stress, corrosive environments where there is no perfect material.

              Very large steel ships operating in the world wide oil trade have a different set of specific engineering challenges than molten salt reactors operating at temperatures as high as 700 C in a radioactive environment complicated by neutrons, but there are numerous principles that translate well between the two product development efforts.

      2. “Worries about corrosion are highly exaggerated by people without actual molten salt experience.”

        Chris – I think that must be correct for *stable* molten salts, especially given the century of experience in metal treatment via molten salt and so on. Though as the ORNL MSRE people reported, reactor salts are another matter, with fission products, decay products, and activation depositing in the salt nearly every element in the period table, and in particular generating free fluorine via radiation.

  2. French simulation studies by French govt institute ADEME which are illustrated here showed that 80% renewable is the cheapest option for electricity supply in 2050. So the French installed new laws in 2015 which target a fast increase of renewable and a faster decrease of nuclear than Germany (50% in 2025).

    That strongly contradicts the conclusions stated in a.o. the linked Jenkins etal review.
    Stronger, the simulation studies also showed that 100% by renewable in 2050 would be less than 5% more expensive than 80% renewable.

      1. You may assume the ADEME scientists consulted with the Germans. Would be stupid if they didn’t.

        Don’t forget that by far most of the costs of the German Energiewende is due to high guarantees delivered in the first decade (2000 – 2010) in order to create a mass market which would bring the costs down according to their scientists.
        E.g. In 2003/4 house owners who installed rooftop solar got 70€cnt/KWh guaranteed during 20years for all electricity produced (also for what they consumed themselves)!

        Those guarantees are ending gradually after 2022, while the cost decrease of wind+solar+storage continue. So the Energiewende costs are predicted to come down gradually from the present 7cnt/KWh towards near zero in 2045.
        As biomass costs didn’t come down they are now decreasing the share of biomass by gradually lowering the subsidy.

    1. At ORNL after 4 years of exposure in the reactor vessel there were corrosion cracks 0.1 mm deep. ThorCon’s plan is to exchange entire Cans, including the reactor Pot, every 4 years for inspection, refurbishment, and rebuilding. All these costs are included in the 3 cent/kWh cost estimate.

      1. Is a lining of solid salt against the vessel wall feasible to prevent corrosion, with molten salt of course in the center of the reactor? Or some other high temperature solid such as clay, or other ceramic? Traditional molten salt furnaces use these techniques with the effect of i) minimized corrosion and ii) lowered temperature on the vessel wall.

    2. The source Bas quoted says “Depending on the assumptions, the electricity costs range from €103/MWh10 to €138/MWh.” That’s 10.3 to13.8 cents/kWh. Jacobson quoted 11 cents/kWh. ThorCon estimate for liquid fission power is 3 cents/kWh.

      1. Not only is the model identified by Bas extremely expensive, to get to that price point it depends on a collapse in the cost of power generation from all renewables other than wind and power-to-gas storage suddenly becoming cheap and plentiful. Even then, the model requires “demand management”, i.e. limiting supply to customers when the system isn’t able to meet demand. It’s pretty easy to get a model to work when supply isn’t guaranteed.

        In case those reasons aren’t enough, the self-acknowledged limits of the study (section 2.2.4) highlight –
        1. It doesn’t model network costs
        2. It won’t produce a stable system
        3. There is no pathway to reach the targets identified

        As for the claim that 80% renewable is the cheapest option for electricity supply in 2050, the report states “Given the uncertainty concerning these cost assumptions, the differences in total costs between scenarios are very likely to be within the margin of error”, so it isn’t even claiming to have the ability to identify the cheapest option. The model also doesn’t consider anything less than 40% renewable power or allow an expansion of nuclear or coal, which puts a pretty big limit on the conclusions that can be drawn from the report.

        1. In contrast, one does suppose, to the Deep Decarbonization Pathways report prepared by the U.S. Depart of Energy two years ago that formed the basis of our UN submission at Marakesh last fall. There’s a summary with links to the original report here.

          The National Labs involved were Pacific Northwest and Lawrence-Berkeley. I’m mildly curious why NREL didn’t attend the party, although to be fair NREL prepared a massive Renewable Electricity Futures Study 2012 of their own a few years earlier.

          Also to be fair, the NREL study adhered to both the spirit and letter of “renewable” — after all it’s their middle name — and did not allow any future nuclear construction in the scenarios they considered.

          PNNL/LBL did.

          These were all conservative studies; one assumes the nuclear the latter considered was conventional LWR. Both studies met projected demand with minimal (not zero) demand shifting. NREL’s earlier study did not consider storage other than conventional hydro, meeting load with a 50% increase there plus a staggering (To me. I was staggered) amount of biomass co-fired with some residual coal and gas. Neither did they consider CCS, deeming it and other energy storage options premature for their particular study.

          In contrast, PNNL/LBL considered hydrogen storage in conjunction with nuclear, and (hydrogen + syngas + EV battery) storage with their renewables.

          The 2012 NREL study projected a bau baseline electric price of 10 – 11 cent/kWh vs (mostly renewables 80% emissions reduction scenarios of 15 – 16 cent.

          In the later 2015 study, PNNL/LBL found their (not particularly) high nuclear scenario to be the only one with a snowball’s chance of coming in cheaper than their fossilized baseline, and that depended on admittedly uncertain projections of future fossil fuel prices in the baseline.

          The not-particularly-high nuclear scenario capped out at about 40% generation from fission, and slightly more from wind+sun. One speculates the nameless dweebs actually running the simulations might have run a few marginally higher nuclear scenarios off the clock, but if they did, those results didn’t make the final cut.

          1. Ed,
            Price levels, etc. in the 2012 NREL study show to be far off reality already (only 5years thereafter).
            Apparently their estimations were highly biased with construction periods of 5years for new nuclear, their estimation that expensive CSP would play a role, etc.

        2. Bas,

          Making predictions is admittedly hard — particularly about the future.

          However, reading my comment is not, and such aspersions regarding NREL are quite unjustifiable.

          Specifically, NREL’s estimations regarding new nuclear construction were neither biased, nor inaccurate.

          How far off were NREL’s 2012 renewables price estimations, and the relevance thereof, is another issue. One makes the best educated guesses one can, assumes some conditions, completes one’s projections, and gets them out the door.

          Certainly LCOE for wind and solar has since dropped considerably. The relevance of such drop, and whether it reflects any increased value-for-money, is highly debatable: fwiw the NREL and the PNNL/LBL studies both considered the LCOE of intermittent generation to be of secondary importance to the all-in cost of reliable electricity.

          As an aside but real-world, iirc Russia, China, and South Korea are all taking about 5 1/2 years to construct new GW-scale light-water reactors. YMMV, as does ours. 😉

      2. Robert,
        The absolute cost levels depend on calculation methods and estimations regarding (predicted) cost levels in the country, etc.
        So I only stated a comparison within the study.

        This table from the summary of the study compares the costs of different scenario’s in 2050:
        – baseline : € 119/MWh
        – 40% renewable: € 117/MWh
        – 95% renewable: € 116/MWh
        – 80% renewable: € 113/MWh

        Of course demand management will help, so all Dutch houses will have a smart meter in 2020. I then can put my dishwasher to operate more accurately at hours when electricity price is cheap when I choose for a supplier who delivers for the APX-Power Exchange price + an admie fee + transport fee + taxes (now we run our dishwasher at night as then electricity is cheaper).

        The issue is that the assumed high costs with high renewable penetration, doesn’t show. Not in this French study, neither in German studies, etc.

        1. @Bas

          There is a significant flaw in your logic. The factor that makes electricity predictably cheap at night is the existence of power plants that run best at steady state. Operators of those power plants accept lower prices as a better option than halting production and disrupting the economy of steady operation.

          When your scheme succeeds in driving those power plants out of the market, there will still be periods when wholesale electricity prices are very low because the supply will exceed the demand, but even the smartest of smart meters will be unable to predict when that situation happens. Depending on the weather conditions, it might be a temporary situation that doesn’t last long enough to complete a cycle on your dishwasher. I can envision your meter sensing that prices are cheap, and sending a signal to start the machine. 40 minutes later, after the wind has changed velocity and clouds have come in off of the ocean, prices on the grid may be several times higher than they were when the cycle started.

          You will have one very confused “smart meter” on your hands and wonder why your bills are so unpredictable.

          1. Rod,
            You are right that weather, hence power production, can change unpredicted within an hour or so. That would be a pity for me.
            But history shows that the chance on that is very low nowadays. Weather predictions for the next 4hours are quite accurate here.

            The other, more advanced solution which may arrive here few years later on, implies that the utility indicates every hour the fixed price for the next 4hours to my meter. Which offer the meter may then accept and start the dish washer (depending on the criteria that I installed in the meter).

            Note that:
            – The utility can buy futures at the APX so it doesn’t have to take a risk itself;
            – The meter may not accept and continue on the hourly (or 15minutes as APX trading is in 15min. chunks) variable rate + the surcharges (utility admie, transport, taxes).

            1. @Bas

              You just don’t get how confused you are.

              You wrote: “But history shows that the chance on that is very low nowadays. Weather predictions for the next 4hours are quite accurate here.”

              The problem with your logic is that your proposed system needs to be able to predict and compute how the weather changes over continent-sized areas will affect power production on a minute by minute basis. Though computing power has improved by incredible leaps and bounds, that kind of prediction capability still requires systems that are more the size of rooms than the size of a “smart meter.”

          2. In 4hrs the wind moves the clouds here on av. 100km or so.
            One of the reason 4hrs weather predictions are so accurate here.

            Furthermore the weather in Belgium and UK isn’t relevant as the small interconnections to those countries are near always filled with our export, as prices in those countries are higher (as you can see at the APX).
            The weather in Germany mostly follows our weather as the main wind is from WSW towards ENE.

    1. Dual fluid reactor had fast fission occurring in a chloride salt at very high temperature, with molten lead on the other side of thin walled tubes, in a high neutron flux environment. They proposed making all the tubing out of molybdenum alloy, which is expensive, and difficult to weld. Thorcon’s stainless steel reactor will be much cheaper and easier to make. It is also following the path beaten by the Oak Ridge researchers, whereas fast fission chloride reactors have only ever existed on somebody’s hard drive.
      Moltex Energy have a simpler concept for a chloride reactor, with the fuel salt in tubes similar to the lining of the solid fuel rods in current reactors. That avoids the fancy plumbing requirements of the DFR, and means you just use new tubes every year or so, so the longevity of the metal under intense neutron bombardment is less of a concern.

      1. I was wondering if Thorcon might just end up buying Moltex for their innovative reactor design?

  3. Interesting discussion, though with respect to the Jacobson comparisons, I don’t know how principled debate is held with one who thinks it legitimate to include the emissions from the fires from a nuclear war as the carbon emissions assessed on nuclear power. Might as well attempt to debate Caldicott between pie-in-the-face attacks.

    1. Also from the same set of papers, he assumes that coal will be used in the interim during construction of the nuclear plants, and he includes CO2 emissions from coal in the CO2 emissions of nuclear. That is all and well as reported in that paper, but then he cites his paper without context, and starts talking about CO2 emissions as though in a steady state economy, and sneaks CO2 emissions from coal into nuclear power somehow. It’s the height of dishonesty. If there was any honesty and integrity in the so-called green environmental movement, Jacobson would be drummed out of the movement, and removed from his university post.

  4. Thoughtful analysts have concluded that renewables can’t solve the climate/energy issue. Here’s a retrospective evaluation by people at a company that actually tried to solve the problem.

    Knowing renewables can’t work is only half the issue. What CAN work? Liquid fission power is real, affordable, and globally scaleable, without subsidies. Permission is the only roadblock.

    1. It’s clear that German and Danish scientists are convinced that 100% renewable will be reached against acceptable costs. German Agora think tank stated cheaper than options with nuclear, assuming nuclear socialized hidden costs are also taken into account.

      Even offshore is now much cheaper than nuclear. In NL the new auctioned offshore Borssele wind farm (750MW, ~30km off-coast in the North-sea in ~30m deep water, operating in 2020 with 8MW wind turbines which run with a Capacity Factor of ~52%) will produce for <5cnt/KWh on av. (15yrs for 5.7cnt thereafter 3cnt).
      And the costs decrease isn't at the end. Vestas is moving towards serial production of 9MW wind turbines (higher = higher CF, etc), while 12Mw is in development.

          1. Thanks.
            It’s a nice video, though it doesn’t touch the real problems of molten salt reactors hence of little relevance.

      1. While Germany and Denmark are slowly attempting to achieve their 100% renewable goals over the next few decades, we should all be thankful for those who promote the ‘temporary’ value of:

        “[Germany’s] technology developments such as the new super-critical coal power plants which utilize the low temperature burning, circulating fluidized bed process (which generate with only marginal more CO²/KWh than gas). The new flexible coal plants can generate for ~2.5cnt/KWh, substantial cheaper than gas and oil plants can. As these coal plants are enough flexible to complement wind+solar…”

        Bas Gresnigt

      2. While it is unquestionably possible to develop a wholly renewable electricity grid (note: possible doesn’t mean affordable or sensible), Denmark and Germany aren’t good examples of either renewable usage or cost effectiveness. At this moment in time, Denmark is emitting 375 g of CO2eq per kWh and Germany is emitting 472 g of CO2eq per kWh, and to get to this point electricity costs have soared to a level that is above every other developed country in the world. Sweden and France make an interesting comparison, with current emissions of 64 and 46 g of CO2eq per kWh respectively. Electricity costs for consumers in Denmark and Germany are almost double those in Sweden and France. Also, I’m aware that the amount of renewables isn’t the same as CO2eq emissions, but it is a reasonable metric to track given the ultimate goal.

        One thing that comes up reasonably frequently are the “socialized hidden costs” of nuclear. Most of the time when hidden costs come up in conversation it is possible to identify them, even if they are difficult to quantify. I’ve found them much harder to pin down for nuclear, given that construction, regulation, operation and decommissioning are very visible costs. Is anyone able to elaborate on what the socialized hidden costs of nuclear actually are?

        1. … the socialized hidden costs of nuclear …?
          There is no exact definition. But you may consider how much of the costs below belong to that category:

          1. Nuclear laws limit the liability for NPP’s to very low amounts. E.g. in NL <1 billion, in USA <25billion. Considering that the Fukushima cost estimate is now (doubled again) $200billion, it's clear that the major part of an insurance premium which would cover the accident costs is socialized. Invisible for the citizen/rate- & tax-payer until disaster strikes.
          Consider that 4 reactors of the world's 400 ended prematurely in extremely expensive disaster and a simple calculation ends at roughly 1 -5cent/KWh socialized costs (depending abut how optimistic you are about the safety of our present fleet).

          2. Nuclear law also limits the costs of (storing, etc) nuclear waste. While there are differences per country, it's liability is frequently restricted to 100years. So those costs are shifted to next generations, assuming no useful application can be developed for the waste (after 60yrs accumulated nuclear waste still no such development only wild ideas).

          3. Nuclear Power Plants (NPP's) are constructed with substantial subsidies such as loan guarantees, etc.
          Consider the new UK Hinkley C NPP:
          – the loan guarantees constitute a value of 1.5cnt/KWh
          – UK govt agreed that it will take the decommissioning costs above a rather low amount which the owner has to pay;
          – UK govt agreed to guarantee that all produced electricity will be paid £92.50/MWh inflation corrected since 2012, during 35years after start of the production (2030?). Considering inflation since then, that price is now already £102/MWh (=$11.9cnt/KWh). With 1.5%/a inflation that price will be $15cnt/KWh in 2030.

          Compare with ~ most expensive renewable; Offshore wind farms.
          Those were tendered for ~$5.9cnt/KWh for the first 15yrs, thereafter whole sale price which is officially predicted to be then $3.1cnt/KWh. The winner has to take all costs incl. decommissioning (wind farm ~30km off the coast in the North Sea in ~30m deep water predicted to operate with a CF of ~52%). And wind & solar prices are widely predicted to continue their decrease during next decade.

  5. How much of the drop in solar panel cost has already taken place? The Chinese producers are highly fragmented and likely have thin profit margins. Eventually, the production will be consolidated among fewer producers and the price will stabilize and perhaps bounce back up. Then there is the factor of Chinese state subsidies as well as preferential treatment in the US.

  6. I understand that ThorCon is designing modules that generate electricity. I’m wondering about the prospects for two variations: 1) Generating substantial amounts of process heat in addition to electricity. An LF reactor (unlike LWR) operates at a high enough temperature to supply heat for several economically important process. Surely this would be more efficient (though perhaps less convenient) than generating electricity and converting it to heat. 2) Generating steam at a temperature/pressure suitable to feed the turbines in a modern coal-fired power plant (encouraging conversions).

    1. Jim – you are absolutely right about converting coal-fired power plants to nuclear power. Jim Hopf has been working with this concept for a number of years, and has a website devoted to molten salt reactors and converting coal-fired plants to nuclear power. ( Here’s a link to a sample page from his site, discussing the conversion of the Taichung, Taiwan coal-fired power plant to nuclear energy: Hopf cites the Taichung power plant as the single largest emitter of CO2 in the world. (Jim keeps revising his site based on his current enthusiasms; he uses a number of different domain names for the site, making it a moving target.) He is currently very enthusiastic about the ThorCon reactor and ThorCon’s plans. So am I, for that matter.

      Terrestrial Energy’s molten salt reactor is actually aimed at producing process heat, as well as heat for generating electricity.

      Rod – thanks as always for this post. Robert and Chris – thank you for your essay and for the information on what ThorCon International is doing.

  7. Good article,

    –Is your cost of $1.2 billion for a 1 GW ThorCon plant an overnight cost, or does it include financing costs, escalation and owner’s costs?

    The ThorCon executive summary lists the $1.2 billion as an overnight cost, with a 4-year build and 10 percent cost of capital. Those assumptions should result in a substantially higher all-in cost, probably about $1.6-1.8 billion, I’m guessing.

    I think the higher all-in cost would give a slightly higher per-kwh capex cost of 2.1-2.4 cents per kwh (according to NREL LCOE calculator, 32-year economic life, 10 percent discount rate, 90 percent CF per the ExSum) than the 1.85 cents per kwh that you guys have budgeted.

    Still a great price if ThorCon can pull it off.

    1. In a conventional nuclear build, the process runs on for 4–12 years and financing costs are a large fraction of the total cost. In contrast, a ThorCon is built entirely in a shipyard then delivered. Installation and hookup could be as short as a few months. Financing costs are insignificant in such a quick installation. Thus overnight and financed come out almost the same.

      Those numbers include margin for yard and ThorCon profit as well as some padding for regulatory costs, materials tracability, etc. We have an independent organization building their own, more comprehensive cost model. They are pushing to inflate some numbers, but so far it looks like we aren’t off by more than 50%.

      1. A most salient point of criticism of MZ Jacobson’s WWS plan has always been that he can’t point to a single nation that has successfully adopted a plan similar to his — true, Norway & Iceland have ably exploited their atypically massive hydro & geothermal energy resource potentials to satisfy the needs of their rather small populations (Norway ~5M, Iceland 25 cents per kWh.

        Team ThorCon is certainly ambitious: 100GW(e) of reactors per year!
        I’d ask how do they plan to obtain the necessary fissile material? U-235 would require massive scale-up of world’s conventional enrichment capacity. U-233 would require a vary large scale breeding program. I’d suggest first building up a sizable fleet of CANDUs and breeding up a u-233 mine via OTT via DUPIC driver fuel.

        1. @Aaron Rizzio

          I guess that depends on what you call “massive” in terms of building additional enrichment and mining capability. Compared to the capital investments of money and facilities that have enabled the shale gas revolution, the investments would be modest and far more limited in terms of sizes and numbers.

          The US, for example, has only one rather modest sized enrichment plant operating today. It could easily multiply that by a factor of 10 or more without anyone but the local populations noticing much of an impact – and they would hugely benefit by the workforce growth and facility investments expanding their property tax base.

          1. ThorCon plans a scale-up of the ORNL’s MSRE. It could run on either u235 or u233. The DMSR championed by David LeBlanc is optimized for a more fuel efficient core, it could be done on existing world mine production and SWU capacity.

            Norway & Iceland have small populations (Norway ~5M, Iceland 25 cents per kWh.

  8. With favorable permitting worldwide, could ThorCon jump to 100 GW/year of production much more quickly?

  9. Do you have a plan to increase worldwide beryllium production?
    It seems that worldwide production is 200-300 tons/year and that a 1MW ThorCon would need about 45 tons of beryllium at startup.

  10. “Approach to engineered safety systems: Physical limit on fuel addition rate; hardware limit on pump speed change rate.”

    What physics properties are changed by pump speed changes?

    My guess: A slower pump speed keeps the fuelsalt in the graphite longer making the fuelsalt hotter, reducing the density, causing less fuel to be in the graphite, causing fewer fissions, causing less power to be produced. Now, that string of logic is surely wrong or incomplete. Is there something else at work?

    1. Martin, you’re right, plus the Doppler effect causes more neutron absorption by U-238, plus a proprietary physical feature also reduces reactivity as temperature increases. That’s how ThorCon does load following.

      1. Thanks. What an intriguing answer. It seems that nothing is caused by one factor with this reactor. Now, I get to read about Doppler.

  11. Does anyone here have any idea how much the cost of electricity supplied by the Barakah Power Plant is going to be per kw/h? As I think that is a useful benchmark for these comparisons.

    1. It’s hard to find accurate predictions for Barakah, but we should know soon once it’s actually selling electricity. Another useful benchmark is Kudankulam 1 & 2, which went online in 2013 and 2016 respectively. They’re selling electricity for 4.29 INR, or ~6.5 US cents, per kwh.

      Kudankulam is a modern greenfield reactor complex with conventional large light water reactors, so it is a good example of typical costs that could be expected for other new build power reactors.

    2. January 1, 2011, Dewa increased electricity charges from 20 fils per kilowatt (KWh) to 23 fils for monthly consumption below 2,000 KWh and from 33 fils to 38 fils per KWh for consumption of more than 6,000 KWh per month.

      1 dirham = 0.272294 dollar. 100 fil = 1 dirham 38 fil = 10.4 cents

  12. Do you plan to use simulation as developed at Berkeley (Compact Integral Effects)? This technique looks to be the fastest way to check many plumbing issues at really low temp and cost?

    1. No, but some of the folks from Berkeley are helping us with software simulations.

      1. Use some extra virgin olive oil and some scaled down glass tubes to simulate your piping.

        How hard can it be?

  13. When I told my wife about the new term, Liquid Fission abbreviated LF, she immediately smiled and said, “I love LF because I can say it.” My response was, “Its normal to just say “L” “F” because its only two letters. She says, “But Martin listen what you hear when you say “L” followed by the normal sound for “F” ffff.” Me, “You mean elf?” She, “Sometimes you are a little slow.”

    The elf technology gives a whole new meaning to Small Modular Reactor.

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