Hank addresses a highly requested topic - liquid fluoride thorium reactors - and tells us how LFTR might be the future of energy in ... China?
Like SciShow on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/scishow
Follow SciShow on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/scishow
Actually there is at least one company in the U.S. researching the tech required to create a LFTR. Kirk Sorensen leads a team at http://flibe-energy.com/ in that effort here in the U.S. Apparently, the U.S. government just handed over all the research we did back in the 50's-60's on Thorium reactors to China's scientists as if it were useless and nobody with any pull in the government has been able to convince the powers that be (due to lobbyists from the current technology reactors) to get anything done from the government side. So, it falls yet again to the public sector to do what the government never seems to be able to do or do well enough.
Why isn't someone like Elon Musk jumping on this? I see the possibility of billionaires funding the production of LFTR plants and selling the energy output much more cheaply, undercutting fossil fuels, old uranium reactors and even the supposed renewables (even though solar takes expensive rare metals to make, not to mention the incredibly expensive batteries and the unreliability issues...).
LFTR require completely different method of production. You can't just change current uranium plants into LFTR. LFTR are extremely safe, no way for meltdowns as its already liquid and not under pressure, and would be very cheap.
The hurdle now is to catch up on how to filter the molten salt material from the core to keep fission heating going... some fission products during the process creates elemental isotopes that can't remain in large quantities like cesium, which absorbs more neutrons before it eventually splits/fission, and spent isotopes need to be removed completely.
It's work graduate students could do... China started there program back in 2011... a 10 year project... so we'll see in 2021 what they come up with... but we should be doing our own too. Many methods and techniques can be discovered for the best possible designs.
At this pace, ITER and Wendelstein 7X will come to be which uses deuterium and lithium blankets to breed tritium fusion reactors... fusion provides a couple orders of magnitude more energy, and ultimately the next power source that is fossil fuel free, and delivers so abundant amount of electricity that electrolysis can be used cheaply to make a variety of chemical fuels and other compounds all carbon neutral.
Makes H2 fuel cell cars better than expensive lithium battery cars that use 140 pounds of lithium to charge... H2 produced via electrolysis from water already exist and quite safe.
ITER and Wendelstein 7x and even India and China's thorium projects while big, are nowhere the size they should be... all nations and combined nations like in the case of ITER should be in such a giant funding and timetable speed to look like a million Apollo projects being ran at one time.
But instead, each project while large in some sense, is but one millionth that of funding of defense spending.
The TMSR or just MAR being built in China is a joint venture with a business in Bellevue Washington, which is doing the design work. Bill Gates is the chairman of the board of directors. Google it. At least the technology, if not the reactor, will exist in the USA.
There is no way to retrofit a uranium reactor to use thorium. They are totally different. Uranium reactors need huge amounts of water that they need cooling towers for. The huge advantage of Tears is that they don't. They can be built much smaller, and much nearer to where the power is needed thereby reducing the need for huge power lines. Search youtube for Molton Salt Reactors--same thing. Eliminate uranium as a power source.
So, people don't want to retro-fit older nuclear reactors, for fear of about the same amount of nuclear waste? Coal-burning power plants warm the Earth; Wind-turbines kill bird populations; Hydro-electric plants flood environments; and solar panels are only good if their are tons of batteries, and 12hrs. of direct sunlight to supplement them. I hate to say it, but if a mountain per continent has to glow, to make sure the rest of the world survives, I'm O.K. with that.
There is no metal that will hold up to molten salt. Just ask any car owner salt belt states. Ceramic or Cermet will hold up to molten radioactive salts but are not structurally estimable to take and loads or psi trust me from a guy who knows (I am a BS ceramic engineer)
But how much waste do they produce? Just think about it. The International Energy Agency expects natural gas and coal to be about 40% (don't quote me) of world energy in 2050, so lets say that thorium instead takes that 40%. If we expect the global population to peak at 10 billion, how are you going to store the waste for 40% of the populations energy every year for 300 years? I doubt you could store more than a few years worth of waste on that scale within a zone like Chernobyl. It would probably be better to give it a minority role.
To say that LFTRs can't produce weapon fuel is false. Thorium isn't fissile. In a throrium based fuel cycle, the thorium is bred into uranium 233, which is fissile, and its that that produces the energy. Its similar to the early dual purpose reactors that burned plutonium, as well as produced plutonium for weapons. Uranium 233 is a better weapons fuel than U235, its more similar to plutonium that u235 in most respect in terms of its nuclear properties. U233 was tested in several weapons in the 50s.
Actually no, the fuel is actually mixed in with the salt coolant, this so that the fuel can be drained away from the Neutron source in case of lose of power and can be cooled passively. In other words there is no chance of a meltdown either, you can even make the reactor have a drain plug that melts at a specific temperature automatically draining the reactor with no need for intervention.
The only way for a metldown to occour would be to leave U233 to build up in the reactor a long ass time; probably months, and at the same time you would have to be removing the Actinide wastes, so litterally you could walk away from this reactor and be certain that a reactor breach would never happen unless someone purposefully did it.
I'd rather chance some radiation than have to breathe polluted air from something like a coal plant, etc. I think we need these for most of our power, solar/wind for some. New batteries, fuel cells, etc all electric cars, etc. No more fossil fuels, etc.
PS YAY CHINA , WAY TO GO, YES THORIUM!!! :):):)!!!...................It's a halfwit question. answer is OF COURSE, EINSTEIN!! , CHANGE TO THORIUM !!!! ten thousand years half life toxicity on uranium, and 300 years thorium? do we really need a calculator for this one ?????? AND DO WE NEED ICBM WEAPONS, AFTER AN EXCHANGE OF WHICH WE POLLUTE THE SKY, MAKE IT DARK FOR DECADES TO MAKE A NUCLEAR WINTER AND KILL GROWING OF CROPS BY 60% ??? ........................... yeesh, please evolution, make us smarter, AND SOON !!!!!!!!!!!
What i dont get is why we dont store all of the nuclear waste in a reactor of its own which will constantly generate power for decades as the fuels slowly decay. It may not generate enormous amounts of power but it could sustainably power a small city for the forceeable future.
all those who find the prospects presented in this quick but informative video, please watch
Kirk Sorenson @ Protospace on liquid floride thorium reactors. The video covers the subject from A to Z in laymen's language including the basics and history of nuclears energy. after watching it, you will come away with an accurate, sound understanding of the advantages, and challenges facing our future energy needs, and LFTR's potential to help humanity meet those needs. Please take the time to watch it. It's interesting, informative, fun and revolutionary. and the coolest part is that it's not theory. it's fact supported by successful operation of a molten salt reactor. We need your support. please watch!!!!
I was so energised by this video I had to read more, but I found conflicting information to what is stated above. Any thoughts on this link and it's reliability? https://whatisnuclear.com/articles/thorium_myths.html
well before the effects of climate change become THAT bad, we run out of enough fossil fuels to keep our bellies filled. I've seen estimates of around 2.000.000.000 people being the maximum sustainable without those fuels. At the time fossil fuels run out, we're between 9b and 11b people, who gets to live?
and yes this estimate accounted for increases in 'durable' energy sources.
Well if they made thorium reactors, people will ask governments to close these uranium plants and ban them. And when that happens, those who use it as weapon will suddenly lose their power. No more scaring other country with nukes.
"North Korea is a state, therefore they are not low funded stateless individuals. Additionally North Korea has absolutely nothing to do with the NRC"
You're the only one here who assumes only stateless individuals are interested in making nukes. Also, you're the one who keep mentioning about NRC here.
"It would also appear that you are most concerned about nations developing WMDs as opposed to single companies or individual stateless groups."
Isn't it obvious? What made you think I'm only talking about individuals here?
"any new country would have to recognize that any attempt to develop weapons would most likely result in a dramatic economic reaction from the USA, China or Russia, as well as the UN"
You can't put sanctions to all countries once majority of them withdraw from NPT.
"In the end a foreign nation isn’t going to stop another nation especially an enemy"
And that's why you shouldn't stop others from protecting theirselves with nukes. Telling other countries to honor a treaty that says everyone should go nuke-less while you keep your nukes is stvpid. It's either everyone go nuke-less or you don't interfere with them arming theirselves with nukes.
"There is not a single type of reactor design ever invented that could use weapons grade enriched uranium for power production."
Fast neutron reactors use about 20%. Naval reactors use at least 50%.
Theoretically for an implosion design, a minimum of 20% could be sufficient to make weapons. Even lower enrichment is hypothetically possible, but of course there are drawbacks
"This is not a simple process, nor is it a process that a stateless low funded group of people is going to have the capabilities of replicating."
Tell that to north koreans. You make it sound too complex. In reality it's just a chemical gas spun in a zippe-type centrifuge rotating at 90k rpm, heat the bottom and wait til its done.
"Considering the fact that the NRC makes inspections every year they
would absolutely find out what you were doing. "
Isn't it obvious? If you are a country that wants to make nukes, you're gonna end up withdrawing from the NPT thus no need to follow this regulations.
"This is exactly why I wasnt' taking you seriously. This has nothing to do with regulation over current commercial light water reactors regarding enrichment regulation"
You're the one who shouldn't be taken seriously. You know the reason why there are regulation in enrichment is because of nukes. If there were no regulations, people would start building reactors using highly enriched uranium.
"I am against the production of nuclear weapons"
Governments doesn't care about your opinion
"A scenario that I quite frankly do not have an answer to is what happens if we disarm all nuclear weapons and Russia invades and takes over all the Baltic nations that used to be a part of the USSR? What happens if North Korea invades South Korea? What happens if China declares ownership over the South China Sea, and even areas in dispute with Japan?"
What did US do when china invade tibet? Did they drop some nukes in china? I bet they won't. In the end, US only do things that benefit theirselves and these poor countries waits to be invaded by these nuke buddies
I don't see any physical reason why it cannot be further enriched. It's just a bunch of chemicals
"That takes an extremely long time for centrifuges, "
As far as I know, they achive higher enrichment through centrifuge. Unless they have developed the laser enrichment process.
" it would be impossible to conceal such a move from federal regulatory agencies. That’s why I’m not taking you seriously."
Not unless it is the terrorist that regulates the terrorist! I don't think I could give my trust to US when they themselves refuse to completely disarm their nukes while they fool other countries not to develop nukes. Seeing how these nuke buddies bully other countries, especially china against asian countries and US vs islam countries, I believe it's time to scrap NPT and let these countries defend theirselves. The reason why other countries does not develop nukes is because they honor the treaty.
"so a ban on “uranium plants” to support Thorium really doesn’t make any sense."
Just so you know, those nuclear power plants used today are what people call uranium plants. And I didn't say they should be banned just because they use "uranium"
Just because I mentioned terrorists doesn't mean I'm not serious. Lol! Ok, just replace "terrorists" with "Americans". Sounds better?
Honestly, all these regulations is nothing but BS. These few countries who posses nuclear weapons pursuade other countries to sign the NPT and yet, they are the ones who refuse to disarm. That treaty's purpose is just to keep the power to these few countries. US even have this Nuclear Sharing sh!t with other countries. Non-proliferation my @ss. Lol! Everyone should scrap that sh!t and ask for india's assistance instead.
If thorium was available when fukushima happened, I'm sure more countries would be pushing to ban uranium power plants. And this might even hit murrrica's nuclear subs and carriers.
"As a bonus, the waste from the process could be used to make bombs."
NO. The LFTR crowd really needs to disabuse themselves of this notion. That is *not* why light water reactors prevailed, and to be perfectly clear, *any* reactor that runs on Uranium with an enrichment level of less than 100% will inevitably produce Plutonium as a byproduct. Yes, this includes everyone's precious LFTRs.
"But I read on reddit that it's proliferation proof because the Plutonium is contaminated with blah blah blah..."
No. If you want to get around this "obstactle," you just need to make sure the produced Plutonium is subject to less irradiation, which you can do by increasing the turnover of fuel through the core. LFTRs, by the way, inherently make this process *easier* because they are *designed* to make it easy to turn the fuel inventory over quickly to avoid reaction poisoning.
Bottom line - if someone wants bombs, they're going to get them. There is no such thing as a "proliferation proof" nuclear reactor, just some that make it easier (and yes, LFTR is one), and some that make it harder (but hardly impossible). Ask India if you don't believe me. We had bombs before we had reactors. Get it?
Major oversimplification. Thorium itself cannot produce power. It must be converted to uranium first by bombarding it with neutrons. Once the reactor is going, you can use the free neutrons from the uranium fission reaction to generate more uranium from thorium, then chemically separate the new uranium from the rest of the thorium. The best way to do this is as a molten fluoride salt.
another incorrect point. Thorium gives off alpha particles this is true. But this is in its conversion to U-233 which is the fuel that keeps the reactor going. When U-233 under go's fission it gives off the same radiation as U-235 fueled reactors. Multiple nations are using thorium for fuel. India is perhaps the largest, China's use is quite small compared to India. China builds a test reactor. India had 8 currently built being built or planned. They also have one the worlds largest thorium reserves. Many Many technically inaccurate points.
Incorrect information. Thorium is a breeder reaction. Almost all the thorium gets converted to U-233 over 99% making it very efficient. But U-233 is pure weapons grade. You can directly build a bomb like the Davey Crocket with this material. That is why the US government does not go that direction. The light water and Pressure water reactors that use enriched U-235 and U-238 fuel where the U-238 is considered "depleted" an incorrect term. The U-235 is burnt as fuel but at less that 2% enrichment or so it can no longer sustain the reaction in the reactor and in the US these fuels are pulled out and considered waste. In other countries like france the reprocess the fuel and enrich it again and put it right back into the reactor. The spent fuel rods contain a mixture of U-235, Pu-240, Pu-238 and U-238. Weapons grade plutonium requires 90% purity, same for U-235 and U-233, and Pu-238. This mixture makes it extremely hard to make nuke weapons and that is why the US went that way. The LFTR reactor is a Nuke bomb creator and that is why they hide this info. It is also why they don't speak of the German reactor that was Thorium fueled. Russia mixes thorium with their Uranium fuel rods to double their life. The Us considers this because the end result is a mixture of nuclear elements that are hard to weaponize.
"Crap Circus" is hardly a scientific conclusion. While carbon emissions are almost certainly contributing to the gradual temperature increase at the center of climate change, there is no scientific consensus as to what percentage that effect is contributing, or how negative the effects will ever get. Reading the literature, it seems like at worst, a few millionaires will need to move inland a mile or two in a hundred years, and at best we delay an apocalyptic ice age. Your climate alarmism is bad politics masquerading as bad science.
America: What it is going to cost as MONEY and NOT HARM the environment (as much), BLASPHEMY
China: Hmmm seems to only have pluses (environment already messed up due to rare earth metal extraction), why hasn't America built one yet..?
The US should go to thorium reactors,the reason is that the country that enriches 90% of the worlds uranium with not be enriching any for the US in the near future !! The Russian federation enriches 90% of the worlds uranium !! if you were Russia would you enrich uranium for a country that has put sanctions on you !!!!!!
Oddly enough is that uranium only gets to create 1 tenth of power to how much it should via it's mass as that the main proportion of creation of power from it is mainly a waste proponent as of the isotope itself and of the means as to get a reaction and to actually cool down the whole process to get the energy out as a product, as the case for uranium as to thorium as of the need to keep using it is that it keeps people that have been practising the science and of those in trade of it in jobs and teaching position's from keeping uranium,, that the science can be changed to show thorium as the right way to use nuclear energy but that the basis of the whole use of it is geared towards waste creation in that it get's people to keep paying for it to be used rather than another element that have better potential as a power source.
I think you will find that alpha radiation is quite dangerous. It is easily shielded but deadly when in the environment. Very few people die of gamma exposure, but getting an alpha emitter in you is a death sentence.
Thank you for talking about LFTR. Looking at the real world energy needs, existing infrastructure like power grids and cars, and the per unit cost of fuel and reactors (after R&D), LFTR is by far the best option. When energy is really cheap and abundant, we can recycle more and produce more, which in turn gives us more jobs, cleaner environment, and less expensive products. We all win. Yes, it does produce waste, but same goes for making solar panels, petrol, coal, wind turbines and every other power source in existence. We NEED stable and constant electricity supply. So lets choose the one thats the best all rounder
Fossil fuel was put on this planet for our benefit lasting for about a century. Our makers never anticipted us to use nuclear energy to produce bombs but instead made sure we have enough thorium to sustain through the next hundred years in order to find and refine a true renewable source source of energy.
*"Alpha particles, which are less biologically harmful than gamma particles."*
Meh, depends. Alpha particles are massive, and they ionize really well. So, your dead skin on your epidermis essentially saves you. But, if you inhale it, like a smoker does from Po-210, it's awful.
I believe in the American exceptionalism when most Americans loved our country and pulled together not dividing our great country. We should advance on LIFTR TECHNOLOGY NOW! Government regulations preventing innovation must be removed and let commercial startups develop power plants. Clear all regulation roadblocks!
This should be built in the U.S. under a program similar to the 'manhattan project'. Unlimited funding, so to speak. Global warming is no joke. The east siberian arctic shelf being one example of how serious it is. Should the east siberian arctic shelf 'defrost' it has the potential to release 500+ gigatons of methane into the air.
Of course we sided with the bomb stuff, because sadly, as a collective man tends to allow fear of other fellow man, and/or a deviant need to subjugate that fellow man, lead them to implement the worst of all evils.
One thing leads to another. Religious persecution made Jewish scientists flee Europe while war broke out. The war pitted leaders who just thought they were better against leaders who wanted to run their system exactly their one way and leaders who wanted the system to run its self. When the ones who thought they were better than everyone lost it left a leader who was numerically even worse to his people and a group who had dreams of individual initiative and nightmares of war with the numerically bad guy. This led to massive manipulation by both sides which fed paranoia by third parties who felt used and their leaders inspired them with teachings of a man they believed transcribed God and led successful military campaigns at thousand years ago. In the mean time a manageable concentrated power source was ignored. Go LFTR go!
Not so much in the USA. Theres a lot of politics that goes into nuclear power with the NRC, who has to make new regulations and changes, and currently they are much more interested in small modular LWRs, and VHTRs.
I think I have a liberal ideology but am and have been pronuclear as, history will back me up on this, when we (meaning civilization, not a country) start something problems are solved in research BEFORE we start. And 300 years is easier than 24000 years for storage. Research wont stop.
The class of drugs that Levitra, Viagra, Stendra, and Cialis belong to are called PDE5 inhibitors. They work by relaxing tight blood vessels, allowing more blood to surge into the penis and cause an erection, says Gregory Bales, M.D., an associate professor of urology at the University of Chicago.
The little pills do the trick for more than two-thirds of men with Viagra protects the heart (ED). They also work for guys who simply need them for a short time to get their “confidence back,” says Michael Eisenberg, M.D., director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford University.