Project Pele - Part II. Enabling technologies 1

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  1. It relies on unobtainable tolerances in drilling ~ 2,000 channels, each 1.5 m long, in a stainless steel monolithic cylinder with 1 mm thick webbing between the channels.

    I suspect this is far less of an issue than you believe it to be.  You’re assuming that you’d start with one huge solid billet and machine out the channels.  It would be far easier to start with 2000 cylindrical tubes and make strips to fill the gaps between them by rolling out some bar stock to pad out the tubes into hexagons.  You lay the whole mess up piece by piece, put it in a vacuum chamber and heat it up to diffusion-bond it all together.  When you take it out, THEN you have one piece (Holy solid billet, Batman!).

    Additionally, it envisions the ability to seal about half of those channels at each end to retain fission product gases.

    Perhaps you can start by filling, sealing and leak-testing the tubes before the diffusion bonding step.  If keeping everything subcritical is a major issue, build and fuse the reactor core in two halves to prevent even the possibility of a criticality accident.

    Several other publications produced articles with headlines claiming that “experts” were horrified, critical, or skeptical, but a fair number of those pointed to Ed Lyman as the “expert” and his article in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists as the place where he documented his concerns.

    The world would be a much better place if Ed Lyman, Harvey Wasserman and all of the people paying them to lie to the public simply dropped dead.

      1. I seriously doubt it.  They have major issues with porosity, which is what you’d expect from a form built up from millions of droplets instead of being cast, forged or rolled to fully consolidate it.

        Sintering is one of the ways that cheap bearings are made; they have enough porosity to impregnate them with grease.  This is not the sort of material you use for confining fission gases.

    1. Question: could you make such a thing using a casting process, by first creating solid cylinders of a material with a higher melting point than your metal (maybe a ceramic?), and an outer cylinder to contain the whole thing, then physically securing the ceramic cylinders at their ends, then pouring molten metal into the empty space around the small cylinders, and inside the big cylinder. Then, once the metal cools, pull the ceramic cylinders out, leaving channels?

  2. Ed Lyman pessimistic about something nuclear?? You don’t say, Rod!!

    I really don’t understand why this guy gets so much attention. Shouting very loud for very long and being negative about everything nuclear doesn’t make you an expert. It makes you anti-nuclear and not to be trusted as expert. Even a cursory investigation into this guy’s history will quickly reveal him to just be anti-nuclear. The N-word triggers a negative default writing mode in this guy.

    Waste problem? Well let’s have a 100,000 year triple redundant repository in the middle of nowhere. “no that will never work”.

    Safety problem? Ok let’s have reactors with passive backup cooling so they will work without power. “no that will never work”. Gravity after all is quite unreliable, and it’s not like hot water kettles ever work.

    Fuel meltdown problem? Well why don’t we have molten salt reactors or high melting TRISO fuel to avoid that. You guessed it, “no that will never work” and for “reasons X Y Z that we’ve just made up”.

    New simpler nuclear reactors that are safer and cheaper to build? “no that’s just cutting corners by the evil evil nuclear industry!!!”. And “it won’t work either”.

    The Union of Concerned Scientists should be concerned about their bias overwhelming rationale. If you don’t want people working on solutions then perhaps you have to wonder if you worry so much about supposed “problems”, Ed.

    Nuclear Safety Project? Well I’m glad that’s there. After all, nuclear power is the safest power source we have, safer than coal, oil, gas, and even wind and solar. And just last year alone, a grand total of zero people died from commercial nuclear power operations in North-America! Outrageous. I’m very glad that money and effort are being spent on a Nuclear Safety Project.

    A Bed Pillows Safety Project would save a lot more lives. Lots of people die from suffucating in pillows. It’s an outrage that we don’t go out in the street with big signs calling for the death of the evil pillow industry. It’d make sleeping uncomfortable, but at least it will save lives. But people like Lyman aren’t interested in saving lives, or even safety in general… they just want to self-confirm and self-perpetrate their ideologies. They’ve decided that nuclear power is evil, and any and all effort, half-truth, and even straigth down lies are justified to stop it’s advance anywhere at any time.

    It’s not possible to reason with these people.

  3. What diameter are the holes? Pretty high aspect ratios are possible with good accuracy using EDM laser drilling.

    1. I suspect there might be issues with voids in a billet so large, and one leak would risk the whole piece.  This is why I think building up from tubes and filler pieces would be the way to go; you could examine and test every channel beforehand.

    2. You’re missing the point about how materials behave under accumulated damage from Neutron fluence

  4. How far away are combat outposts from forward operating bases on average?

    With horizontal drilling borrowed from the fracking shale gas industry, could you drill and underground sabotage proof power line from the nuclear powered FOB to the combat outpost?

  5. “I think he overlooked the part where the evaluators gently told the designers that their beautifully-optimized, computer-designed model cannot be manufactured.”

    I love it! I’ve been destroying evinci on any site that discusses it and allows comments.

    Such an obviously bad design. Oh the state of our experts at LANL. These products are simply a MCNP training program for the new crop of post-docs at LANL.

  6. I’ve always questioned the choice here with MegaPower/eVinci of the proposed gun-drilled monolith core structure because a fasces of clad fuel/moderator rods and heat pipes, banded together with compression rings or sleeve with interstitial bonding (NaK) is an intuitively more robust design for accommodating anisotropic expansion from peaking, and swelling, deformation, cracking from burnup. Plus, you could disassemble it if it was as I say. I’d like to say LANL knows what they are doing, but does anybody actually know what they are doing in this age where prototypes are rarely built? Megapower/evinci is a MCNP and thermodynamic training course for a new crop of LANL postdocs. It’s the national lab equivalent of OJT.

  7. I found it sort of amusing that you did a better job being the critic than the critics. I guess spending years reading this stuff has given you a keen insight in what they are going to say or write before they even do it.

    Here is an aside comment. You noted the old problem of a design looking good on paper but may not be buildable. This seems to be somewhat common problem. Should it be a prerequisite for design firms to have design personnel spend time in the “field?” Unfortunately, I guess the “field” may not fully exist for some of these products.

    1. ” Should it be a prerequisite for design firms to have design personnel spend time in the “field?” ”

      Not only a prerequisite it should be a requirement and part of the bid proposal. As a NPP startup manager my group started reviewing all designs before the concrete was poured. Amazing some of the problems that a trivial walk through would uncover/find. For example control system cabinets so close to the wall or other obstructions that the doors would not fully open preventing removal of some of the larger components and in some cases so close that even with the doors removed it was still physically impossible. No overhead pad-eyes to lift equipment during required maintenance.

      Problem I still have with the next generation is that every few years from the start of commercial Nuclear Power till I retired another type of corrosion was discovered requiring changes in plant water chemistry and/or sealing/welding methods. Chemicals and products were discovered that had to be banned from the plant. Many changes needed to prevent stress induced cracking/corrosion. Heat-up/cool-down methods had to be adjusted to limit stress, and methods changed on the sealing of tubes in tube sheets. And thinking of the problems of sealing tubes in tube sheets, how are some of the methods above for making very small “tubes” going to work? Some of the methods we experimented with 40 years ago seem very similar and did not work. What kind of stress induced cracking/corrosion is a salt coolant going to cause? Are they looking at this?

  8. Hi Rod, I’m interested if you have or will watch HBO’s “Chernobyl” and provide commentary? Thank you

    1. Tom Hewitt — There is a new book by Plokhy just now reviewed in the Moscow Times. In my opinion the book is likely to be more accurate than the HBO documentary.

  9. (posting here because I have no idea what e-mail to use these days.)

    Rod, this is the study I’d heard of but not seen until just days ago:

    It has supposedly been “corrected” by this later study:

    I note that the “correction” is (a) congruent with the LNT hypothesis (more or less) and (b) that it is behind a paywall, so nobody unwilling to pay for access can dig into the details.  This, IMO, makes it immediately suspicious.  Who paid for this follow-up study?  Could this be ANOTHER smoking gun?

    1. Engineer-Poet, I followed your second link and was able to read the entire paper. I have no institutional access privileges.

      The paper is mildly supportive of radiation hormesis.

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