Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors -- "What Fusion Wanted to Be"

Hello. I'd like to propose a type of nuclear reactor that was conceived of in the late 50's, with a working prototype constructed in the late 60's at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

So I don't bore you too much, here is a list of reasons why it should be considered above most if not all current energy sources:

- Uranium needs to be processed as only 0.5% of it is usable U235 for normal reactors

- Thorium is 4 times more common than ALL Uranium isotopes

- Almost impossible to make nuclear weapons out of it

- Burns existing nuclear waste stockpiles

- Creates 1,000 to 10,000 times less nuclear waste

- 87% of said waste is safe within 10 years for resale, 100% within 300 years

- It is 300 times more efficient at power generation than light water uranium reactors (the dominant reactor today)

- Since it uses a liquid fluoride salt system instead of water the size is incredibly small in comparison and in the event of a 'hull' breach it will not explode everywhere like the 400'C 80 atmospheric pressures of water in usual reactors

- IT *CANNOT* MELTDOWN! It's already melted, If shit goes wrong the salt mix drains into a passively cooled tank, only stopped by a frozen salt plug which has air blowing over it

- One ton of Thorium produces as much energy as 2,500,000 tonnes of coal and 250 tonnes of Uranium

- It costs under $100,000 PER YEAR to replenish nuclear fuel in comparison to over $50,000,000 for uranium nuclear reactors

- Because of the small size and no requirement of large bodies of water, this can be used on areas such as the moon where other power sources just aren't possible or are impractical (one month day on the moon, two weeks of darkness so no solar)

- In a year the world burns nearly 7 billion tonnes of coal, 65,000 tonnes of uranium and a whole bunch of other smaller fuel sources.


If you find this proposal intriguing, here are a couple of videos that'll go more in depth.

LFTR in 5 Minutes - THORIUM REMIX 2011

The Thorium Dream



  • Yes this should be promoted as i feel this is the way forward in cleaner energy

  • Note after investigating Thorium I found its already being implemented

    India's Kakrapar-1 reactor is the world's first reactor which uses thorium rather than depleted uranium to achieve power flattening across the reactor core.[30] India, which has about 25% of the world's thorium reserves, is developing a 300 MW prototype of a thorium-based Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR). The prototype is expected to be fully operational by 2011, after which five more reactors will be constructed.

    The German THTR-300 was the first commercial power station powered almost entirely with Thorium. India's 300 MWe AHWR CANDU type reactor will begin construction in 2011. The design envisages a start up with reactor grade plutonium which will breed U-233 from Th-232. After that the input will only be thorium for the rest of the reactor's design life.

    It works and it really should be promoted by the POW.

  • This is VERY intriguing -at least to a non-tekkie. Let's have links to more info on this.

  • fushion reactors take about as much power to stabalize as what they produce

  • Babelfish, the Indian Thorium reactor is not the liquid lithium and beryllium fluoride molten salt reactor, so might not hold all the benefits. Actually, loses a lot of them. Still needs to have huge containment chambers in case pressure is lost, which is one of the largest problems. Unless i've misunderstood the articles i've read on it.

  • Thorium reactors have MANY positives going for them, compared to our current version of nuclear reactors. Let's get the switch started!!

  • This is an excellent idea, but the only problem i can see with this..... is the government is corrupt and greedy.... and would sooner see the earth destroyed than lose a few bucks...

  • @Omega The government in pretty much ANY country would stand to gain quite a bit of money from pursuing LFTRs, and I'll use the United States as an example.
    Only 4 years ago the US imported over 600 billion dollars in oil per YEAR. LFTRs producing methanol and dimethyl ether combined with signing into law that all cars SOLD, not made, but SOLD, must be flex fueled vehicles. This is perhaps a $100 difference in price due to different software for the fuel injector and corrosion-resistant fuel lines. Within a few short years you would have 50 million flex fuel-capable automobiles in the United States alone, not to mention creating an entire flex fuel market overseas which the US can exploit by becoming a massive exporter of said fuels as the Japanese, European etc car industries aren't going to walk away from the American market. So right there, you've just broken dependence on OPEC oil imports and by extension, the need for wars to gain today's ever-too-previous black hydrocarbon juice. Which means per year, within the decade, you could cut over ONE TRILLION DOLLARS from oil imports and your budget, as well as having an entirely new industry that could employ hundreds of thousands of jobs.

    On a secondary point, early estimates for prices per kWh for LFTRs are around 2.3c. That's half that of coal-fired power stations. What could a power source that desalinates water and produces automobile fuels from its waste heat as well as providing double cheaper electricity with no emissions do for a nation's economy? And more importantly, the environment in general?

  • Just listening to an expert on the radio on other reactors and she was asked about these. She said it's funny I was looking into why it lost favour recently. She said it turns out vested interests caused the Clinton administration to abandon it's program. Not sure if that is true.

  • I've been asking these same questions for a number of years now. The answers I keep getting are that the nuclear industry does not have the infrastructure for thorium. This is only true for non-CANDU reactors. Canada's AECL has successfully tested thorium in its CANDU units but still uses uranium. The only reasons I can see for not making the switch is that countries still see a need for enriched uranium, for bombs. Also, a byproduct of uranium as fuel is tritium , which is used to make nuclear 'triggers'. On the bright side, both China and India have been looking into using thorium for some time now. Even so, nuclear should not be our 'end game' but only our stop gap, as more and more renewables come into play.

  • I think this is an amazing idea. But how wud we get it out there ? How will get any idea in here into reality realy ? There is no support from govmt no significant funds .. I mean we r all daydreaming here almost ! I hv an idea how we can make decision in this global democracy thing come into reality. Check "global democracy by law" in my profile.

  • i have always thought nuclear energy was a good idea, but to completely erase the use of fossil fuels, anything that would be better for earth. but i do think marijuana would be the best choice for fuel for cars, or anything involving oil.

  • That Sounds Very Interesting Its Risky But This Idea Could Help Us.

  • I object because this has already been done and improved. Look up 4th generation reactors. This is old stuff.

  • LFTR IS a 4th generation reactor. Nice try.

  • If Inurdaes is correct the objection vote should be disqualified.

  • I object because Nuclear reactor are to dangourous chyrnoble Japan.

  • ^ You can't put together a coherent sentence. You don't get a vote.

  • I didn't know that there was an alternative to uranium in producing nuclear energy. Thank you for sharing this information.

  • This is brilliant, though has been known for many decades. Sad that "evil" President Richard Nixon axed the only functioning one in America back in the seventies. Yes, thorium should be the predominant energy source to replace coal and current nuclear technologies. I don't see the oil industry being affected by that.

  • The McBride study, as I understand it, comperas normal radiation exposure for people leaving near coal and nuclear facilities. Coal came out higher, though both were much less than the typical background dose we all may get from various sources. I think the article is very clear on those points, so I wouldn't call it misleading.Now, this fly ash spill wouldn't even come close to the radiation exposure from a Chernobyl-style nuclear accident. But given the odds of a spill like this vs. a nuclear accident, coal again comes out worse on the radioactivity comparison.Bottom line, the heavy metals, both radioactive and merely toxic, are probably going to stay in the groundwater for a long, long time. And any exposure to the sludge should be treated extremely cautiously.

  • This has the potential to set the nuacelr industry back globally, wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. We need to ensure the anti-nuacelr chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuacelr. Who's responsible for the clean-up at Fukushima and the incredibly hazardous conditions at the damaged plant? The Japanese government is privatizing gains for the elite and socialized the losses at TEPCO for the Japanese people, a people who have endured radiation spillage in the seawater/food supply.If they wish to show the safety' of nuacelr, why not make the corporates responsible for their own fallout? Life on this planet depends on the answer.

  • I object because Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors are fission reactors not fusion reactors. Therefore radioactive waste with long half lives is still a by product. Fusion facilities like ITER and NIF will be able to produce commercially viable energy from deuterium and tritium in 30-50 years. This fusion process is far cleaner than any fission process can be and the materials needed for it are extremely abundant, deuterium being found in sea water.

  • I suppose you are unaware that tritium is actually quiiiite radioactive and that a commercial fusion power station would produce megacuries worth of the stuff whereas a nuclear fission plant gets screamed at for microcuries.

    You do seem aware of the fact that commercial fusion is at minimum, 30 years away. So that's 30 years where we need to struggle with the base load power issues that keep impeding photovoltaics (if not in engineering, in economics) and therefore we'll continue using the cheapest stable form of energy, which is quickly changing to natural gas. Which, incidentally, is chiefly methane, which is a greenhouse gas over 20x more potent than CO2, and leaks in substantial amounts during hydraulic fracturing operations.

    If say, 65% of the world's energy is produced from molten-salt thorium reactors, that means we're using about ~4,000 tonnes of the stuff worldwide. Of that, 87% is safe for resale within 10 years. So we're left with 520 tonnes of shit that'll be radioactive for the next 300 years (as opposed to tens of thousands with the existing U-235 fission and decay chain)

    Do you really believe that containing ~500T of radioactive fission products for the entire planet's energy needs is somehow an intractable task? If we extend this over the eventual lifespan of this operation, there will be a maximum of 156,000 tonnes of the stuff, which if divided into several smaller containment stations is *completely feasible* to control and keep under wraps. The stuff isn't even useful for thermonuclear weapons.

    And we're supposed to continue shitting up the Earth's atmosphere, the health of the biosphere (because the predominant coal has toxic fly ash full of mercury, lead and the like that kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide through stuff like lung disease, or hey, natural gas releases a fucktonne of radon which is more than half of our background radiation exposure source.)

    You cannot develop a roughly zero-carbon economy and continue the world's rise into prosperity without cheap, clean, and stable energy. I refuse to wait 40+ years.

  • This is not the only nuclear option. It's worth investigating, but I don't trust all of the claims are true. We've got to realize that we need nuclear if we are to get away from fossil fuels, and diversity of nuclear options is helpful.

  • Don't forget that while one site can produce 6,600 tonnes of thorium per year, there are literally hundreds of sites around the world with the same or more production capability.

    In addition, there is no necessary downtime caused by the buildup of neutron-absorbent gasses (particularly xenon, which accrues in solid uranium fuel during uptime) as the gas literally bubbles out of the liquid as per physics.

    It's really a wonderful system.

  • Testing if we can comment after vote period.

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