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Li'l nuke reactors, fact or fantasy?
#1
This lobbed onto the Old Farts and I'm not up to making any assessments on it.  What's the opinion of you sciency people?

https://www.knowablemagazine.org/article/technology/2019/nuclear-goes-retro-much-greener-outlook?fbclid=IwAR0jnECNuvHuERbVdYBMJUuqMoLAVgCYtswfLM3BvIbn4dDU6bbUANPOBl0
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#2
Seems legit, although the logistics still look like a problem: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Molten_salt_reactor
Love is... that one person whose freshly-warm toilet seat you don't find disgusting.
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#3
I'd made a post some time ago about LFTR or Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors, but thanks for this. It's the same thing yet the linky is certainly far more comprehensive than what I posted. I was dead set against nukes because of the possibility of catastrophe and then I came across the LFTR concept. We should be working on developing this technology. If we don't, we're gonna end up buying it from China most likely.
You can lead 'em to knowledge, but you can't make 'em think.
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#4
Interesting stuff.
I've been familiar with some of it for quite some time, though certainly claim no expertise in fission physics.

Reading that article was slightly heartbreaking, in as much as the idea has been around for so long...and initially, was more or less rejected because we already had an industry in place to support the conventional, though inferior approach we've come to know and love/hate.

This phenomena rears its ugly head in lots of field of engineering...we become overly invested in a particular approach, and it becomes too difficult to shift the whole elephant in a new direction. And before we could develop some of these old ideas, public opinion and legitimate dangers soured the whole shebang of fission power. It became increasingly difficult to finance new reactors.

The potential for thorium reactors has been tossed around for quite a while. Sure seems like a major improvement. yet, still plenty of obstacles.
The notion of using spent fuel, and rendering it less harmful in the process has lots of appeal. Though, that leaves us with side problems of transporting some seriously dangerous materials...and the inevitable accidents.

After the down turn in fission power, another problem occurs:
We have a paucity of engineers that are trained in this technology.
Which is strange, especially as the realities of the damage caused by conventional fossil fuel oxidation became increasingly apparent..

Another obscure hindrance to moving forth with liquid salt fission is the looming promise and tease of fusion reactors. The holy grail. Constantly, just around the corner. I've followed that pop-star for more than 50 years...so I'm almost bored with it. An analogy of that feeling is the Mueller report, and the constant innuendo that Trump's world is closing in on him. Every day, for two years, the latest bombshell evidence that will take him down. Ho hum. Sure.
With the fusion promise, it's similar; almost got it this time! just around the corner! since i was in freaking high school.
Any one see any fusion reactors anywhere? great concept; radically complex and expensive; will solve all our problems.

Maybe some shit is simply too difficult?
The liquid salt fission approach is certainly more feasible today than the always elusive fusion reactor.
And we should get away from hydrocarbon oxidation, like, yesterday. It's worse than a dead end technology. It will literally be our demise.

My pie in the sky objection to all of this is analogous to an elephant in the room that we can't address...again, because of the inertia of entrenched and overlapping industries. It's too big.

An example:

We could have begun transforming our infrastructure decades ago...as in, rethinking our antiquated and insane transportation systems. The car thing is a dead end. A dinosaur. We are helpless against it. We are placated by tiny advancements like better fuel economy and electric motors.
Which actually just keeps us more stuck. It's not just the cars. It's the steel industry; mining giants; an entire cultural milieu that has sprung up around the automobile and the hiway systems and the fuel and the military budget and the fast food industry, and the idea of the suburbs...it's a package deal.

In theory, at least, we might have wooped the problem some time ago, simply by doing everything a lot smarter...not necessarily requiring exotic power sources. It's a debate I've struggled with for ages. The way we do the things we do is radically stupid. And we've known this for decades. In every subsidiary activity of "Big Civilization", we've had the smarts to do it all with a tenth the energy. But we steadfastly choose not to. Again, we're placated by incremental improvements. I'm typing with the light from an led bulb that provides the same illumination as the old incandescent one, with a tenth the energy...and a longer life. That's cool. yet, there's an underlying ridiculousness that remains. And it's almost sacred.

I could give a zillion examples of what i'm getting at. The easiest one is our cars. Look at them all. Where are they going? and why? Why do they weigh a ton or more? Why is there only one person in it? If the gas mileage triples tomorrow, will we still be stuck in traffic jams? moving items back and forth without the ability or will to address the underlying clunkiness?

We're in an awkward spot, and have been for as long as i can remember. The underlying behemoth remains while we dress it up with really slick new technology. Perfect example? Advanced weaponry. very cool technologies emerging; no chance of altering the underlying behemoth of militarism and injustice and greed and all that stuff. We put really smart bandages on the ever festering wounds of stupidity. There is no super efficient way to do a really stupid thing that shouldn't be done.

As we examine all that, it's kind of shocking. We could be addressing the overlying insanity. We could have practiced birth control. We could have not trashed eco-systems for the most paltry of rewards. But we didn't. We don't even want to. Even as so many basically hate what they do and the price.


gosh. that was a legitimate rant-length post.
Conclusion:

Why create advanced power sources if we're just going to use it to do ridiculous stuff?
Such a dream generator could become an enabler of the insanity.

Top down thinking versus bottom up.
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#5
That was brilliant, thank you Stanky, you're not just a pretty face around here.

Request? May I paste that to the Old Farts? .. no names .. but acknowledgement, ... and it will go into a lurker free forum ... unless you want publicity.

We're on a research jag over this article, others are also asking assessments from their science literate contacts and we'll have a comparison 'contest'. We're a mix of 'greens' and 'fossils' 'lefts' and 'rights' in about equal measure so there will be interest in what you've laid out.

I'm against rushing to renewables as you know, but not against them as viable in certain situations and okay with it once it's actually pulling it's weight. Others are gung ho to shoot the horses and hope the windmills will be enough to pull the load. This kind of technology pips them all. It's efficient, its non polluting at least CO2 wise, it's far more affordable for smaller, an poorer, populations ... we're wary as it seems too good to be true.

Thanks for pointing out the real reasons behind it's constant pushing out of the picture.
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#6
Whatever you like,hon.

Can't imagine any one (except you) would read something that long.

Didn't mean to give the impression that i'm opposed to the smaller, liquid salt fission reactors. They would be a huge improvement.
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#7
Fusion, as you pointed out, is going to take a very long(er) time and will be big and unwieldy, we can do LFTRs within 20 years or sooner if we want to badly enough.
You can lead 'em to knowledge, but you can't make 'em think.
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#8
Tks Stanky, yes there are a couple of old science nerds there who are wondering, like me, why the climate isn't being  saved by the far more practical and reliable use of nuke power generation.
The feedback from their sources is very similar to yours, seems it's only the renewables industry investors who are  pushing the fear factor about nuclear power. ... via those bloody Greens as usual. Dodgy Big Grin
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#9
(02-26-2019, 06:29 PM)Di Wundrin Wrote:  Tks Stanky, yes there are a couple of old science nerds there who are wondering, like me, why the climate isn't being  saved by the far more practical and reliable use of nuke power generation.
The feedback from their sources is very similar to yours, seems it's only the renewables industry investors who are  pushing the fear factor about nuclear power. ... via those bloody Greens as usual. Dodgy Big Grin

Yes, the Greenmunists are violently opposed to nuke power, but thanks to Fukushima, so are most other people.

They're scared of what they don't understand.

Aussie should be ringed in nuclear power plants. It's not like you need to go far for the uranium.
Love is... that one person whose freshly-warm toilet seat you don't find disgusting.
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#10
But in order to make it cost effective, you really need to use molten salt so's you can 'clean' the fuel of poisons thereby enabling burning up all the fuel instead of the measly 5% that solid fuel reactors do before the fuel is too full of shit to support criticality. This has the added distinction of leaving nothing but low level fission products that have to be sequestered for a mere 300 years as opposed to tens of thousands...clearly a thing beyond our current technology. There are other design advantages pointed right at safety regarding cleaning the fuel of poisons, if anyone is interested, I'll save that for another post.

Don't forget, molten salt reactors run much hotter than conventional reactors making them inherently more efficient, plus with the use of the newer turbine technology overall plant efficiencies of 50% can be (theoretically) realized whereas today's plants are down around 35% when making electricity is your goal. Molten salt reactors run hot enough that process heat could be used to produce carbon neutral fuel for transportation. Hot enough that what would otherwise be waste heat could be used to desalinate seawater in areas where this would prove advantageous for agriculture.

And, screw the expense of a heavy reactor vessel/plumbing in standard reactors necessitated by the fact that they operate at pressure whereas molten salt reactors operate at atmospheric pressure. Indeed, every single time a solid fueled reactor has melted or exploded, it's been because of a lack of proper management of temperature/pressure of the system.

The list of good things for molten salt reactors goes on. Why the fuck aren't we doing this? Greenmunists, renewable interests and big oil/coal/gas. And these foolz would rather make a profit today than bother about their own grand children. Fuckers.

Oh, one last item: If you arrange the molten salt reactor to breed fuel from Thorium (LFTR), you're not dependent on the current supply of Uranium. Indeed, each plant would need a start up load of Uranium or Plutonium. After that, they'd make their own fuel from Thorium, which is fertile, but not fissile (no weapons proliferation, so no incentive to steal it to make bombs), and while it is technically radioactive, it is so not radioactive that it's half life is longer than the age of the fucking Universe!

Christ on a Popsicle stick, this is a no-brainer over all.

Are there engineering problems to overcome? Sure. But with a crash program, I'm betting we could have commercial plants online within 10 years. Remember, a helluva lot of the ground work has already been done, and by the same guy who designed standard reactors back in the 40s and 50s and realized there was a better way. That would be Alvin Weinberg.
You can lead 'em to knowledge, but you can't make 'em think.
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