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Power Science

China Starts Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor Project 387

greg_barton writes "The Energy From Thorium blog reports, 'The People's Republic of China has initiated a research and development project in thorium molten-salt reactor technology. It was announced in the Chinese Academy of Sciences annual conference on Tuesday, January 25.' The liquid-fluoride thorium reactor is an alternative reactor design that 1) burns existing nuclear waste, 2) uses abundant thorium as a base fuel, 3) produces far less toxic, shorter-lived waste than existing designs, and 4) can be mass produced, run unattended for years, and installed underground for safety."
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China Starts Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor Project

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:34AM (#35064314)

    Well, we did run this in Oak Ridge back in the day - it is the high temp/no-flex materials that were the problem, in that they didn't exist.

  • Initiated. (Score:2, Informative)

    by noobermin ( 1950642 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:36AM (#35064322) Journal

    Note the stub says they have initiated R&D. Not that they have a plan or design, etc.

    Also one of the more annoying things mentioned on that page are their intention to maintain IP over it. Sigh...

  • Re:Go China! (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel ( 530433 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:45AM (#35064366)
    They aren't prevalent because the commercial nuclear industry grew largely out of the military industry which needed two things, fuel for bombs and small light reactors for ships and submarines.
  • by steelfood ( 895457 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:57AM (#35064428)

    Off topic, but with this new layout, GP is modded 2, while parent is modded 5, but GP shows up minimized and parent (modded 5!) doesn't even show up without first expanding GP.

    These are the default settings (the slider even says 1 full), but none of the comments are showing up as full.

  • Slight exaggeration (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @01:59AM (#35064444)

    The realities of those 4 points: 1)burning existing waste is really expensive and you have to run the reactor at a lower power level so it is not economically viable until uranium becomes prohibitively expensive(30-50 years from now) 2)while thorium is abundant the fuel behavior in a reactor is not as well known and more importantly its much less stable and more prone to clad failure(fuel leaking into the primary coolant) which usually forces an unplanned shutdown or reduction in output power until the next refueling. 3) blatant lie. 4) This is a claim that can only be made after years of experience because we(both the US and China) lack the capability to model fast reactors well.

    Generation IV reactors like this one will probably be much more practical in 20 years time, but currently they make little sense unless you don't have access to uranium(ie India).

  • by sharkbiter ( 266775 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @02:57AM (#35064722)


    Umm, err... Yes, sodium cooled reactors are perfectly safe. Just look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monju_Nuclear_Power_Plant.

    Perfectly safe, using liquid metal...

    (Yeah, I'm cherry picking here but I really hate the fact that I had to dig deep to find that there are several incidents around the world concerning liquid metal cooled nuclear power plants and the fact that the mainstream "green" media chooses to ignore them.)

    Perhaps some kind and statistical person here would crunch the numbers and show the statistics of liquid metal vs water cooled reactors as far as incidents go? I'm thinking that the 1959 incident at SSFL introduced more rads than the 3 mile island incident of the 70's as an example.

  • by Pontiac ( 135778 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @03:18AM (#35064800) Homepage

    Try where we WERE years ago..
    FFTF was a sodium cooled reactor built at Hanford in 1982 and run until 1992
    http://www.hanford.gov/files.cfm/fftffocus.pdf [hanford.gov]

  • by WalksOnDirt ( 704461 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @03:50AM (#35064934)

    clad failure

    There is no cladding on the fuel.

    we lack the capability to model fast reactors well.

    This is not a fast reactor. It is thermal.

    We don't have a lot of experience with molten salt reactors, which is a large part of what China is researching. Your criticism is at least premature.

  • Even worse... (Score:3, Informative)

    by RichiH ( 749257 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @05:00AM (#35065224) Homepage

    Even worse... When someone replies to you and you click that great little email informing you of this fact, you can end up with everything collapsed, i.e. your comment _and_ the reply, unless your own comment gathered enough points.

    But then, /. never reacted to any of my emails concerning design so this will probably stay as it is :)

  • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @06:20AM (#35065554) Homepage Journal

    Also when you get an email advising you of a reply to a comment you posted the link now takes you to the root post with all the replies collapsed. You can press "w" a few times to expand them and then have to hunt through to find your post and its reply. The old system just took you to the reply.

    I am losing the will to respond to replies now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @07:18AM (#35065868)

    Check the MSRE at ORNL too.

  • by pixelpusher220 ( 529617 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @10:52AM (#35067542)
    Electricity *can* be produced greenly. Show me how gas and coal does that hmm?

    Switch your system to run on electricity and then switching your production to a clean method is an easy next step. You simply can't clean the emissions of 100 million ICE cars and coal power plants.

    The 'nuts' are trying to save your ass from yourself...but don't let that get in the way of your rants
  • Start with Wikipedia (Score:5, Informative)

    by garyebickford ( 222422 ) <gar37bic AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @11:10AM (#35067760)

    Wikipedia now has a dozen or so informative articles on Molten Salt Reactors, Liquid Thorium Fluoride Reactors, etc. It's a good place to start. There is a website supporting the LFTR: Energy From Thorium [energyfromthorium.com]. I note that I believe a lot of the PR out there regarding thorium is produced by a company that presently owns a huge percentage of the mining rights to thorium deposits in the US. Which is fine by me. :)

  • by damnfuct ( 861910 ) on Tuesday February 01, 2011 @11:23AM (#35067900)
    Toxicity is not a by-product of radioactivity. A [very mildly] radioactive metal like lead-204 is still lead, and will kill you like lead if you are exposed to too much; the fact that it is radioactive is trivial in a case like this. In a case like U-238, the radioactivity of the metal is quite low and the real danger of handling it is heavy metal poisoning.

"Go to Heaven for the climate, Hell for the company." -- Mark Twain