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                           Special Notes
•    This material has been prepared by Dr. Joseph Bonometti and Mr. Kirk
     Sorensen and should not be reproduced or distributed without authorization
     ( or 256-828-6213).
•    The work has been prepared as private individuals, not for profit, and as an
     outside activity not associated with any private organization or
     governmental agency.
Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor
     What fusion wanted to be!
                November 18, 2008

          Dr. Joe Bonometti
             Thorium Support Group Counselor
        Co-Chair of the Compact Power Working Group

1. Illustrate where the largest global problem
   actually resides
2. Background on Thorium
3. Highlight Systems Engineering ideas important
   to global energy in light of
              - What fusion wanted to be!
4. Explain the historical ―Path not taken‖
5. Describe LFTR
6. Make the case for LFTR as the best method to
   exploit thorium and rapidly meet the energy
1. There is an energy crisis
2. It is global in nature
3. There is no obvious, simple, or quick fix
4. Thorium is not commonly known, neither is
   nuclear physics
5. Increased electrical capacity would help other
   energy sectors and have a major impact on the
   world economy

Energy consumption directly correlates to
   standard of living and for good reason…
Where largest global problem actually resides…

sources                    Address
                                       Conservation has its
                                           limits here

 Phases out
poor sources
for electricity

                                     More electrical energy
                                       diverted to electric
                                     transportation options
 Can Thorium Be That New Line?

                                               230 train cars (25,000 MT) of bituminous coal or,
                                               600 train cars (66,000 MT) of brown coal,
                      6 kg of thorium metal
                        in a liquid-fluoride
                     reactor has the energy
                        equivalent (66,000
                            MW*hr) of:

                                               or, 440 million cubic feet of natural gas (15% of a
                                               125,000 cubic meter LNG tanker),

And what is the best way                       or, 300 kg of enriched (3%) uranium in a
                                               pressurized water reactor.
  to extract its potential?
       The Discovery of Thorium
• Thorium was discovered in 1828 by
  the Swedish chemist Jons Jacob
  Berzelius, who named it after Thor,
  the Norse god of thunder.

               • In 1898, Marie Curie & Gerhard Schmidt
                 independently discovered thorium was
               • But with a ~15 billion-year half-life (older than
                 the universe), it didn‘t decay very often and had
                 very low radioactivity…
               • Eventually thorium decays to lead-208.
                    The Element Thorium
Properties:                                                                                                              QuickT ime™ and a
                                                                                                              T IF F (Uncompressed) decompressor

                                                                                                                  are needed to see this picture.

    Slightly radioactive metal (actinide)
•   Color: Silvery-white (pure form)                                       Qu i ckTi me ™ an d a
                                                                TIFF (Un co mp re ss e d) de co mp re ss or
                                                                   a re ne ed ed to se e thi s p i ctu re .

     – Black as Thorium dioxide (ThO2 or thoria),
     – Highest melting point of any oxide (3573 K).
•   Atomic Number: 90                                                                                                           QuickTime™ and a
                                                                                                                       TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
                                                                                                                         are neede d to see this picture.

•   Atomic Weight: 232.0381
•   Melting Point: 2023 K (3182°F)
•   Largest liquid range of any element
•   Boiling Point: 5061 K (8650°F)
                                                            QuickTime™ and a
•   Density: 11.72 g/cc                           TIFF (Un compressed) decompressor
                                                     are neede d to se e this picture.
•   Mohs hardness: 3.0
•   Decay: alpha emission                                                                                                     Qu i ckTi me ™ a nd a
                                                                                                                   TIFF (Un co mp res se d) de co mp res so r
                                                                                                                     a re ne ed ed to se e th is pi ctu re.

Natural thorium & uranium give
  you over half the radiation you
  receive in your lifetime!
Thorium and Uranium Abundant in the Earth‘s Crust

   0.018      -235
             Thorium: Virtually Limitless Energy
 World Thorium Resources                  • Thorium is abundant around the world:
                        Reserve Base        – Found in trace amounts in most rocks and soils
                                            – India, Australia, Canada, US have large
India                        300,000          minable concentrations
USA                          300,000        – US has about 20% of the world reserve base
Norway                       180,000
Canada                       100,000      • No need to horde or fight over this
South Africa                  39,000
Brazil                        18,000
Other countries              100,000        – A single mine site in Idaho could produce 4500
World total                1,400,000
                                              MT of thorium per year
Source: U.S. Geological Survey, Mineral
Commodity Summaries, January 2008
                                            – Replacing the total US electrical energy
                                              consumption would require ~400 MT of thorium

                                                             The United States has buried 3200
                                                             metric tonnes of thorium nitrate in
                                                             the Nevada desert.
                                                             There are 160,000 tonnes of
                                                             economically extractable thorium in
                                                             the US, even at today‟s “worthless”
    And if that is not enough for the future…

We will have a really good        MOON
 reason to go to the Moon
 and on to Mars!

• Thorium is easily detected
  from a great distance with
  little effort or expense
• It is chemically distinct so
  can be readily purified

                   Conceptual Design Stage
      It is estimated that at ~ 80 percent of a project’s life-cycle cost is
      locked in by the initial concept that is chosen.

      In a similar manner, all benefits are locked in…
                               The conceptual design sets the theoretical limits.

                               The conceptual design has the least real-world
                               losses quantified.

Conceptual                     Therefore, there MUST be significant inherent
Design                         advantages to avoid erosion of all the benefits.

 “One can not figure to add margin and be assured an
   advantage over the existing concept, if there is no inherent,
   and thus untouchable, growth factor.”
                      Conceptual Design Selection Criteria:

       Conventional Nuclear Technology
               Pros                                            Cons
                                             •   Safety fears
•   High power-density source
                                             •   High capital costs
•   Availability of massive amounts
                                             •   Proliferation & terrorist target
    of energy
                                             •   Long term waste disposal
•   No green house emissions
                                             •   Uranium sustainability
•   Minimal transportation costs             •   Unsightly, bad reputation
•   Low $/kW baseload supply

    ~1/3 of CO2 comes from                    Inherently nuclear power
     electricity production                 produces essentially no CO2
               Power Density & Efficiency
                                Why is it important?
• Land usage
   – cost of the land (lost opportunity for its use)
   – loss of natural environment
• Flexibility in relocation
   – minimal infrastructure expense
   – lower transportation cost
   – recoup investment should site be closed
• Environment independent
   – weather, temperature, under/over/no water,
     even seismic effects are easily minimize
   – lower cooling requirements (air or water)
• Manufacturing costs
   – multiple unit production
   – reduced material costs                        “Smaller”:
   – effective human-size operations               It is not just for convenience,
                                                   but essential to reducing costs
• Maintenance costs
   – less manpower intensive
   – minimal parts and size
       Power Generation Resource Inputs
• Nuclear: 1970‘s vintage PWR, 90%
  capacity factor, 60 year life [1]                           Cost of:
   – 40 MT steel / MW(average)                                • materials
   – 190 m3 concrete / MW(average)
                                                              • labor
• Wind: 1990‘s vintage, 6.4 m/s average wind                  • land
  speed, 25% capacity factor, 15 year life [2]                • tools
   – 460 MT steel / MW (average)
   – 870 m3 concrete / MW(average)                            • etc…

• Coal: 78% capacity factor, 30 year life [2]
   – 98 MT steel / MW(average)
   – 160 m3 concrete / MW(average)

• Natural Gas Combined Cycle: 75% capacity
  factor, 30 year life [3]
   – 3.3 MT steel / MW(average)
   – 27 m3 concrete / MW(average)               Recent
                                                increase in
Distance from end user, prime real              natural gas
estate, energy intensity, etc…                  plants
     What Fusion Wanted To Be
Fusion promised to be:                   And what it has
1. Limitless (sustainable) energy        become…

2. Safe
3. Minimum radioactive waste
4. Proliferation resistant
5. Environmentally friendly
6. Power dense
7. Little mining, transportation, or land use
8. Low cost
   ―The Path Not Taken…‖

The forgotten history of nuclear energy.
         Three Basic Nuclear Fuels
                     Enrichment                 =      Bomb
                                +   design &
(0.7% of all U)

                   Neutron                   Weapon
                             Chemical                      Better
                   source + separation +     design &    =
                   (reactor)                 fabrication
 Uranium-238                           Plutonium-239
(99.3% of all U)

Neutron                Hot          Weapon
source +             + enrichment + design & = Bomb
(reactor)              facility     fabrication
  Thorium-232                          Uranium-233
(100% of all Th)
Sustainable Reactor Fuels for Electricity

                                         Fuel               Short-term
                                                     =      Electrical
                   facility or heavy +   design &
                                         fabrication        power
                   water production
(0.7% of all U)

                   Fast                                 Electrical
                              Sophisticated Fuel
                   spectrum +                           power +
                              controls    + design & =
                   breeder                  fabrication extra 239
 Uranium-238                                Plutonium-239
(99.3% of all U)

                            Thermal               Electrical
                                     + chemical =
                            spectrum              power
  Thorium-232                               Uranium-233
(100% of all Th)
1944: A tale of two isotopes…
    • Enrico Fermi argued for a program of
      fast-breeder reactors using uranium-
      238 as the fertile material and
      plutonium-239 as the fissile material.
    • His argument was based on the
      breeding ratio of Pu-239 at fast
      neutron energies.
    • Argonne National Lab followed Fermi‘s
      path and built the EBR-1 and EBR-2.       U238 to Plutonium

    • Eugene Wigner argued for a thermal-
      breeder program using thorium as
      the fertile material and U-233 as the
      fissile material.
    • Although large breeding gains were
      not possible, THERMAL breeding
      was possible, with enhanced safety.
    • Wigner‘s protégé, Alvin Weinberg,
      followed Wigner‘s path at the Oak
      Ridge National Lab.                      ―Thorium‖ to U-233
                    Historical Perspective
1. Atomic bomb technology came first and
   extremely fast paced
2. Only fissionable elements are appropriate
   for nuclear detonation (i.e., no time for
   fissile to fission conversions)
3. Bomb material production was single
   highest priority - ―immediately make as
   many as possible‖
4. Weapons are made of solid, highly
   enriched, fissionable material due to higher
   density and ease of construction
5. Fuel cycle enrichment program becomes
   the entrenched costly bureaucracy
6. Atoms-For-Peace dividend becomes the
   political mandate
7. Immediate action pushes competitive
   technology out; with direct link of bomb fuel-
   cycle highlighted as benefit to infrastructure
8. Status quo is maintained even today by
   enrichment and technical overhead for
   weapons, naval reactors, and commercial
   systems all interwoven in solid fuel cycle
         Good or Bad Decisions???
Then                                    Now
• Relatively unknown engineering        • A mature industry
  & science
                                        • Limited need for more weapons
• Urgency of war
                                        • Very efficient & small designs
• Unsophisticated designs &                 along with excellent delivery
  delivery systems                          systems
• Limited resources                     • Need to reduce costs
• Need for high breeding ratios         • Breeding weapon material is
• One step enrichment or                    not a priority
  chemical separation                   • Environmental, proliferation and
• Cost cutting measure and peace            safety are prime issues
  dividend                              • ‗Peak uranium‘ is coming
• Safety, environment, and
  proliferation were low priorities
• Other classified rationale
                                   Maybe it was right then, but wrong today.
The tale of Engineer Survival…
     Aircraft Nuclear Program
               Between 1946 and 1961, the USAF
                sought to develop a long-range
                bomber based on nuclear power.

               The Aircraft Nuclear Program had
                 unique requirements, some very
                 similar to a space reactor.

               • High temperature operation (>1500°
                  – Critical for turbojet efficiency
                  – 3X higher than sub reactors
               • Lightweight design
                  – Compact core for minimal shielding
                  – Low-pressure for minimal structure
                  – Minimal inventory and fuel additions
               • Ease of operability
                  – Inherent safety and control
                  – Easily removable
                  – Minimal reprocessing
The Aircraft Reactor Experiment (ARE)
                  In order to test the liquid-fluoride reactor
                     concept, a solid-core, sodium-cooled
                     reactor was hastily converted into a
                     proof-of-concept liquid-fluoride

                  The Aircraft Reactor Experiment ran for
                    100 hours at the highest
                    temperatures ever achieved by a
                    nuclear reactor (1150 K).

                  •   Operated from 11/03/54 to 11/12/54
                  •   Molten salt circulated through beryllium
                      reflector in Inconel tubes
                  •   235UF dissolved in NaF-ZrF
                            4                       4
                  •   Produced 2.5 MW of thermal power
                  •   Gaseous fission products were removed
                      naturally through pumping action
                  •   Very stable operation due to high
                      negative reactivity coefficient
                  •   Demonstrated load-following operation
                      without control rods
Molten Salt Reactor Experiment
Predominate MSR Concept

                  • Freeze Plug
                  • Closed-Cycle Gas
                  • Continuous Chemical

• Big
• Single Fluid
• Control Rods
    Dr. Alvin Weinberg: Why wasn‘t this done?
                            1. Politically established plutonium industry
                                ―Why didn't the molten-salt system, so elegant and so well
                                thought-out, prevail? I've already given the political reason: that
                                the plutonium fast breeder arrived first and was therefore able
                                to consolidate its political position within the AEC.‖

                            2. Appearance of daunting technology
                                ―But there was another, more technical reason. The molten-salt
                                technology is entirely different from the technology of any other
                                reactor. To the inexperienced, [fluoride] technology is

                            3. Breaking existing mindset
                                ―Perhaps the moral to be drawn is that a technology that differs
                                too much from an existing technology has not one hurdle to
                                overcome—to demonstrate its feasibility—but another even
                                greater one—to convince influential individuals and
                                organizations who are intellectually and emotionally attached to
                                a different technology that they should adopt the new path‖
ORNL Director (1955-1973)
                            4. Deferred to the future
                                ―It was a successful technology that was dropped because it
                                was too different from the main lines of reactor development…
                                I hope that in a second nuclear era, the [fluoride-reactor]
                                technology will be resurrected.‖
       H.G. MacPherson: Why wasn‘t this done?
                       1.   Lack of technical understanding
                            ―The political and technical support for the
                            program in the United States was too thin
                            geographically. Within the United States, only
                            in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was the
                            technology really understood and
                       2.   Existing bureaucracy
                            ―The thorium-fueled fluoride reactor program
                            was in competition with the plutonium fast
                            breeder program, which got an early start and
                            had copious government development funds
                            being spent in many parts of the United
                            States. When the fluoride reactor
                            development program had progressed far
                            enough to justify a greatly expanded program
                            leading to commercial development, the
ORNL Deputy Director        Atomic Energy Commission could not justify
                            the diversion of substantial funds from the
                            plutonium breeder to a competing program.‖
Why is this so different?
    1.   Liquid core
         Despite the design being inherently simple,
             the testing, verification and existing
             database does not readily apply.
    2.   Thorium
         The fuel is Uranium 233 which is not naturally
              found but must be obtained from the
              ―fertile‖ element thorium. Since this was
              not the best solution for weapons, the
              process is not well known.
    3.   Chemical Processing
         Without CONTINUOUS chemical processing,
              the full advantage of thorium for a power
              reactor is not realized. One must
              sequester the intermediate product from
              the reactor core and that is a unique
              industrial chemical process - NOT a
              nuclear technology.
                 ‗Institutional‘ History
―Under the leadership of Hyman Rickover, the Navy contracted the
Westinghouse Electric Corporation to construct, test and operate a
prototype submarine reactor plant. This first reactor plant was called the
Submarine Thermal Reactor, or STR. On March 30, 1953, the STR was
brought to power for the first time and the age of naval nuclear propulsion
was born. One of the greatest revolutions in the history of naval warfare
had begun.
To test and operate his reactor plant, Rickover put together an organization
which has thrived to this day. Westinghouse's Bettis Atomic Power
Laboratory was assigned responsibility for operating the reactor it had
designed and built. The crew was increasingly augmented by naval
personnel as the cadre of trained operators grew. Admiral Rickover
ensured safe operation of the reactor plant through the enforcement of the
strictest standards of technical and procedural compliance.‖

• Big organizations with lots of “self-interest” and bureaucracy
• Not „inherent‟ safety, but very strict rules and blind obedience
    The Path We Have Taken…

• Is the Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR)
  the only reactor approach?
• Is the PWR the best (safest, least
  expensive, most efficient, synergetic,
  etc.) reactor choice?
• Are there others systems that have
  hardware testing, years of system
  operation, scientific data achieves,
  impressive advocates, etc.?
• Did we make the best decision then?
• Are we making the wrong decision now?
                        What is LFTR?
Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor or LFTR (pronounced ―Lifter‖) is a specific fission
energy technology based on thorium rather than uranium as the energy source. The
nuclear reactor core is in a liquid form and has a completely passive safety system (i.e.,
no control rods). Major advantages include: significant reduction of nuclear waste
(producing no transuranics and ~100% fuel burnup), inherent safety, weapon proliferation
resistant, and high power cycle efficiency.

     – The best way to use thorium.
     – A compact electrical power source.
     – Safe and environmentally compatible energy.
     – A new era in nuclear power.

        What fusion promises someday…
              Technical Details
• Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor …
   – A type of nuclear reactor where the nuclear fuel is in a liquid
     state, suspended in a molten fluoride-based salt, and uses a
     separate fluid stream for the conversion of thorium to fissionable
     fuel to maintain the nuclear reaction.

• It is normally characterized by:
   – Operation at atmospheric pressure
   – High operating temperatures (>>600K)
   – Chemical extraction of protactinium-233 and reintroduction of its
     decay chain product, uranium-233
   – Thermal spectrum run marginally above breakeven
   – Closed-Cycle Brayton power conversion

“It is the melding of the nuclear power and nuclear
    processing industries; surprisingly, something that does
    not occur naturally.”
        Chart of the Nuclides for LFTR
     Fissile Fuel!   Ref:

   Uranium (92)

                                    ~27 days half-life

Protactinium (91)

                                                         ~22 min half-life

   Thorium (90)         +N

       Without Protactinium Extraction
               Not Fissile !   Ref:

   Uranium (92)

                                                                  ~7 hour half-life

Protactinium (91)                  + N #2

                                                               ~22 min half-life

   Thorium (90)                   +N

        Fundamental Process & Objectives
Safety &        Intermediate                                       Effective
                Storage                                             & Grid

                   233Pa               Blanket
                                                     Thorium In

                Replacement U233        U233     Products

Proliferation                          Cold In                     Timeliness
  & Waste                                                           & Covers
                                       Hot Out                     Energy Gap
                                   Drives Turbines
                          LFTR Inherent Advantages

   Liquid Core                       Thorium                  Fluoride Salt             Internal Processing            Closed-Cycle Brayton

  Homogeneous Mixing              Abundant                   Ionic Chemical Stability      Minimal Fissile Inventory      High Efficiency Recuperator
  Expandable                      Fissile                    Room Temperature Solid        No Fuel Fabrication            AIr or Water Heat Rejection
  No Separate Coolant             Chemically Distinct        High Temperature              Extraction of Poisons          Variable Inlet Pressure
  Drainable                                                  Low Vapor Pressure            Extraction of Valuables

                                                        Desired Goals
                 Safety                                                                                        Cost

                        No Radiation Release
                        Quick Shutdown
                                                          Power                                                 Low Capital Investment
                                                                                                                Low Fuel Price
                        Minimize Public Exposure                                                                Minimal End-of-Life Expense
                        Passive Heat Removal                 Dense Energy Source                                Low Maintenance
                        Simple & Inherent                    High-grade Electric Power Output                   Long Life
                                                             Minimal Internal Energy Consumption                Nominal Transportation
                                                             High Thermodynamic Efficiency                      Minimal Legal/Site Risk

  Proliferation Resistance                                                   Flexibility
  Easy Tracking                         No Long Term Radioactive Storage
  Unattractive Terrorist Target         Easy Site Cleanup
                                        Small Land Use                              Easily Moved                         100 kW to 1 GW Units
  Grid Stability                                                                                                         Multiple Unit Operation
  Easy Restart                          Minimize Waste Heat                         Adaptable To Other Missions
                                        Disaster/Weather Tolerant                   Air & Water Cooling                  Minimal Physical Size
                                                                                                                         Load Following Operation
             LFTR Disadvantages
•   Relativity unknown
•   Difficult process to follow
•   Different from existing nuclear infrastructure and mindset
•   Not weapons-grade materials
•   Has a chemical processing system
•   Needs a start charge of U233

“There are always disadvantages to every technology,
  process or methodology one selects and there are always
  plenty of people to point out the ones that belong to yours,
  but very few that explain how to mitigate them.”
             Relative Comparison:
    Uranium vs Thorium Based Nuclear Power
                                                     Uranium LWR                            Thorium LFTR
                                          (light water reactor, high pressure   (liquid fluoride thorium reactor, low
                                                       low temp)                         pressure high temp)
Plant Safety                                    Good (high pressure)            Very Good (low pressure, passive
Burn Existing Nuclear Waste                             Limited                                 Yes
Radioactive Waste Volume (relative)                        1                                   1/30th
Waste Storage Requirements                           10,000+ yrs.                            300 yrs.
Produce Weapon Suitable Fuel                             Yes                                    No
High Value By-Products                                  Limited                              Extensive
Fuel Burning Efficiency                                  <1%                                   >95%
Fuel Mining Waste Vol. (relative)                        1000                                    1
Fuel Reserves (relative)                                   1                                   >1000
Fuel Type                                              Solid                                 Liquid
- Fuel Fabrication/Qualification                   Expensive/Long                          Cheap/Short
Plant Cost (relative)                              1 (high pressure)                     <1 (low pressure)
Plant Thermal Efficiency                           ~35% (low temp)                      ~50% (high temp)
Cooling Requirements                                    Water                               Water or Air
Development Status                                 Commercial Now                   Demonstrated 1950-1970

                  Unique Applications
• Mobility:
   –   Site relocations(lower financial risk)
   –   Military or disaster relief
   –   Near consumer, lower grid losses
   –   Ships (including littoral naval vessels for an all nuclear US Navy)
• Submerged units:
   –   Hidden (aesthetic view)
   –   Threat resistant
   –   Good heat rejection
   –   Unaffected by storm or earthquake
• High Temperatures:
   –   Direct use in shale oil extraction (local site/mobile)
   –   Hydrogen production
   –   Desalination
   –   Coal to liquid fuel (Fischer-Tropsch)
• Think about the entirety of the global energy crisis:
   –   Required Resource Intensity
   –   Diminishing Returns (producing the next 10 Quads….)
   –   Power Density relation to cost, applicability, flexibility, etc.
   –   The speed to produce on the order of 100 Quads worldwide
   –   Vulnerabilities (storms, attacks, environment)
• Questions to ask yourself:
   – Can thorium meet this challenge?
   – Is it worth serious analysis now?
   – What is the best way to exploit all the advantages of thorium?

                   Is LFTR what fusion promises to be someday?
The Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) is an architecture that seeks to exploit
  thorium in these four broad categories:
   –   Compact & mobile for costs saving, ease of implementation & end of life disposal
   –   Proliferation resistance and nuclear substantial waste reduction
   –   Cost effective & grid interfacing through highly efficient, mass produced, power plants
   –   Timeliness and covers energy gap better than competing alternatives due to its energy
       density, flexibility of use and high availability

      Back Up Slides

The details for the technical geek…
   Neutrons are moderated through collisions
Neutron born at high
energy (1-2 MeV).

                                 Neutron moderated to
                                 thermal energy (<<1 eV).
       Weapons Grade Nuclear Materials
―The Russian naval nuclear fuel cycle significantly overlaps
    the fuel cycles of the military's fissile material
    production…‖       Ref:

a)     Bombs need “solid” nuclear fuel
b)     That requires large, expensive, fuel enrichment plants and plutonium
       breeder systems
c)     Therefore, paying these assets off, or utilizing the “sunk costs” was
       the driver for solid fueled reactor designs
It follows that once started, the infrastructure and database available creates
       a „self-fulfilling prophecy‟…

Weapons use highly enriched uranium 235 or plutonium 239; not uranium
    233 or thorium 232!
Weapons use processed solid fuel, not liquids that are “constantly being
―Incomplete Combustion‖
             Civil Nuclear Power Plants
                              Can we accelerate construction?
•    Light Water Reactors in operation: 355                                   • Historical average ~8/yr
•    Under construction: 22                                                   • Even 10/yr takes 20 years
•    Number of countries with LWRs: 27                                        to increase by ~50%
•    Generating capacity: 317.103 GW(e)                                       • Profitable over the long
                                                                              haul, but slow build
•    Operating experience: 8178 reactor-
                                                                              • Questions:
     years                                                                       • Expertise availability
Ref: http://www-      • Peak uranium
                                                                                 • Waste storage

―Nuclear power plants provided some 16 percent of the world's
   electricity production in 2004. Countries generating the largest
   percentage of their electricity in 2005 from nuclear energy were:‖

               Other Nuclear Power Plants
Heavy Water Moderated/Gas Cooled/Liquid Metal Fast reactors
• Reactors in operation: 38/26/3
• Under construction: 8/0(?)/0
• Number of countries: 7/3/4
• Generating capacity: 19.19/10.86/1.04 GW(e)
• Operating experience: 822/1547/156 reactor years
Dispose of Fuel in Yucca Mountain

                          Cost is proportional to
                          length of time for storage
 10,000 years stability   and total volume.
                        Perspectives on the US Energy Future
                        2008                                                                                                 2050         24 Quads*
      14 Quads*                                                                                                                     (4.11 Bbbl crude oil)
 (2.41 Bbbl crude oil)                                                                                                        (assumes ave. 2% growth in demand year to year)

                                                                                                               ~ 2000 LFTRs
        Current US Electric
                                                                                                               < 10% Coal
       Power Production Units
      •Biomass – 270                                                                                           < 10% Petroleum (electric cars)
      •Coal Fired Boiler – 1,4600                                                                              Yucca Mountain not needed for long
      •Petroleum Coke – 31                                                                                      term waste storage
      •Combine Cycle NG – 1,686
      •Comb. Turbine – 2,882                                                                                   Electricity and other products
      •Diesel – 4,514
      •Fuel Oil – 13                                                                                             ~ 150 LWRs
      •Geothermal – 215
      •Hydro – 4,138
                                                                                                                 > 70% Coal
      •Incinerators – 96                                                                                         > 95% Petroleum (transportation)
      •NG Boiler – 776                                                                                           2+ Yucca Mtns. for long term waste
      •Nuclear – 104
      •Oil Fired Boiler – 327
                                                                                                                  storage (~$180B)
      •Solar – 31
      •Wind - 341                                                                                              ~ 2000 LWRs
                                                                                                                     Not enough uranium supply for this
   (US Chemical Plants ~15,000 )                                                                               < 10% Coal
                                                N.B.: High risk due to the safety,                             < 10% Petroleum (transportation)
                                                proliferation and waste issues                                 10+ Yucca Mtns. for long term waste
                                                and associated political and                                    storage (~$900B)
                                                public opinion issues
*Source: DOE Historical Net Electricity Generation by State by Type of Producer by Energy Source, 1990-2006
         Can Nuclear Reactions be Sustained in
                  Natural Uranium?

         Not with thermal neutrons—need more than 2 neutrons to sustain reaction
         (one for conversion, one for fission)—not enough neutrons produced at
         thermal energies. Must use fast neutron reactors.
           Can Nuclear Reactions be Sustained in
                    Natural Thorium?

     Yes! Enough neutrons to sustain reaction produced at thermal fission.
     Does not need fast neutron reactors—needs neutronic efficiency.

                          Liquid Core Advantages
                  Homogeneous Mixing                                  Expandable

           No Hot Spots        No Fuel Shutdowns       Load Following            Easy Core Design

         Safety                   Environment          Safety                      Scalability
                                  Cost                                             Flexibility
                                                      No Control Rods           Negative Temp Coef.
    Complete Fuel Burnup
                                                       Cost                        Safety
           Environment                                 Security                    Cost

                No Separate Cooling                                       Drainable

   Less Complexity              Reduced Risk       Passive (gravity) Shutdown          Passive Heat Removal

  Safety                       Safety                  Safety                            Safety
  Cost                         Security                Cost
Better Thermodynamics                               Easy Core Replacement             Stop & Restart Operation

  Power                                                Cost                              Safety
  Cost                                                 Flexibility                       Cost
  Flexibility                                                                            Flexibility
         Passive Decay Heat Removal
              thru Freeze Valve

                                   Passive Heat

                                        Restart Heaters

           Secondary Containment Drum
Return                                            Restart Pump
                           Thorium Advantages
                        Abundant                                           Fertile Not Fissile

Easy Mining & Processing           Sustainable Supply       Easy Transportation            Less Terrorist Interest

   Cost                            Power                     Cost                            Security
                                   Cost                      Flexibility                     Cost
                                                             Low Proliferation                Cannot Explode
 Fewer World Quarrels
                                                             Security                        Safety
    Security                                                 Safety                          Cost
    Safety                                                                                   Scalability

                                                 Chemically Distinct

            Easily Processed               Continual Removal of Elements                Easily Detected
                                            (Protactinium, Uranium, Etc.)

          Cost                                   Safety                              Cost
          Flexibility                            Security
          Power                                  Power
               Uranium Fuel Cycle vs. Thorium
                                1000 MW of electricity for one year

 800,000 tons Ore

                                                     Uranium-235 content is         35 tons Spent Fuel
                                                    “burned” out of the fuel;
                                  35 tons                                           Yucca Mountain
                                                   some plutonium is formed
                             Enriched Uranium                                       (~10,000 years)
                                                          and burned
                              (Costly Process)                                      • 33.4 t uranium-238
                                                                                    • 0.3 t uranium-235
                                                                                    • 0.3 t plutonium
                                                         215 tons
      250 tons                                       depleted uranium
                                                                                    • 1.0 t fission products
   Natural uranium                               -disposal plans uncertain

                                                                                       Within 10 years, 83%
                                                                                      of fission products are
                                                                                         stable and can be
                                                                                       partitioned and sold.

200 tons Ore                                                         1 Ton
                                Thorium introduced into
                               blanket of fluoride reactor;     Fission products;      The remaining 17%
                1 ton           completely converted to            no uranium,       fission products go to
           Natural Thorium     uranium-233 and “burned”           plutonium, or       geologic isolation for
                                                                 other actinides           ~300 years.
       Is the Thorium Fuel Cycle a
            Proliferation Risk?
• When U-233 is used as a nuclear fuel, it is inevitably
  contaminated with uranium-232, which decays rather
  quickly (78 year half-life) and whose decay chain
  includes thallium-208.
• Thallium-208 is a ―hard‖ gamma emitter, which makes
  any uranium contaminated with U-232 nearly worthless
  for nuclear weapons.
• There has never been an operational nuclear weapon
  that has used U-233 as its fissile material, despite the
  ease of manufacturing U-233 from abundant natural
• U-233 with very low U-232 contamination could be
  generated in special reactors like Hanford, but not in
  reactors that use the U-233 as fuel.
         U-232 Formation in the Thorium Fuel Cycle

                             Fluoride Salt Advantages
                      Ionic Chemical Stability                                          Room Temperature Solid

Insensitive to Radiation Damage           High Bond Strength             Nonvolatile When Cool                   Leak Resistant

    Safety                               Environment                     Safety                               Flexibility
      Compatibility With
      Different Mixtures                                               Easy shipping and Handling               Easy Spill Cleanup

    Security                                                             Cost                                 Safety
                                                                         Security                             Cost

                                    High Temperature                                          Low Vapor Pressure

          Good Thermodynamics                          No Temperature Limitations                Gas Buildup Readily Comes Out

             Power                                       Safety                                      Safety
             Cost                                        Flexibility                                 Cost
             Corrosion Resistance                                                                   Salt Components Remain

             Cost                                                                                    Security
             Safety                                                                                  Cost
     Radiation Damage Limits Energy Release
• Does a typical nuclear reactor extract
  that much energy from its nuclear fuel?
    – No, the ―burnup‖ of the fuel is limited by
      damage to the fuel itself.
• Typically, the reactor will only be able to
  extract a portion of the energy from the
  fuel before radiation damage to the fuel
  itself becomes too extreme.
• Radiation damage is caused by:
    – Noble gas (krypton, xenon) buildup
    – Disturbance to the fuel lattice caused by
      fission fragments and neutron flux
• As the fuel swells and distorts, it can
  cause the cladding around the fuel to
  rupture and release fission products into
  the coolant.
Ionically-bonded fluids are impervious to radiation

• The basic problem in
  nuclear fuel is that it is
  covalently bonded and in a
  solid form.

• If the fuel were a fluid salt,
  its ionic bonds would be
  impervious to radiation
  damage and the fluid form
  would allow easy extraction
  of fission product gases,
  thus permitting unlimited
 Corrosion Resistance at Temperature
 •   Fluoride salts are fluxing agents that
     rapidly dissolve protective layers of
     oxides and other materials.
 •   To avoid corrosion, molten salt coolants
     must be chosen that are
     thermodynamically stable relative to the
     materials of construction of the reactor;
     that is, the materials of construction are
     chemically noble relative to the salts.
 •   This limits the choice to highly
     thermodynamically-stable salts.
 •   This table shows the primary candidate
     fluorides suitable for a molten salt and
     their thermo-dynamic free energies of
 •   The general rule to ensure that the
     materials of construction are compatible
     (noble) with respect to the salt is that the
     difference in the Gibbs free energy of
     formation between the salt and the
     container material should be >20
     kcal/(mole ºC).

                  Internal Processing Advantages
                  Minimal Fissile Inventory                                   No Fuel Fabrication

Small Size/Less Shielding              Low Fuel Cost           No Fuel Infrastructure            Less Terrorist
                                                                  or Bureaucracy            or Proliferation Threats

    Cost                              Environment                Cost                          Cost
    Flexibility                       Cost                       Security                      Security
                                                                No Transportation             No Fuel Inspections
 Proliferation Resistance              Less Clean Up

                                                                 Cost                          Cost
    Security                          Environment                Security                      Safety
    Cost                              Cost                                                     Scalability
    Environment                                                                                Flexibility

                     Extraction of Poisons                                        Extraction of Valuables

 Reduced Contamination                   Smaller Core Size         Radioactive Products             Smaller Core Size

      Safety                              Cost                         Cost                          Safety
      Cost                                Security                     Flexibility                   Cost
 Less Permanent Waste                 Better Reactor Control
                                                                     Rare Earth Metals
      Environment                         Safety
      Cost                                Cost                         Cost
                            LFTR Processing Details
         Metallic thorium

                                                                Extraction Column

                                Decay Tank
                                   Fluoride                                            Salt
                                233UF                  Pa         Recycle
                                                                 Fertile Salt

              7LiF-BeF2           Uranium       Recycle Fuel Salt
                                 Absorption-    7LiF-BeF -UF                         Core
                                 Reduction              2   4

                              232,233,234                                            Blanket
    Vacuum                      Hexafluoride                                        Two-Fluid
   Distillation                  Distillation                                        Reactor
                  ―Bare‖           xF6
                   Salt            Fluoride            Fuel Salt
    Fission                        Volatility
    Waste                                                   MoF6, TcF6, SeF6,         Molybdenum
                                                             RuF5, TeF6, IF7,         and Iodine for
                                                               Other F6
                                                                                      Medical Uses
        Closed-Cycle Brayton Advantages

Air or Water Heat Rejection     High Efficiency Recuperator         Variable Inlet Pressure

        Location Independence       High Thermodynamic Efficiency         Smaller Physical Size

        Flexibility                     Power                             Scalability
        Cost                            Cost                              Cost

   Best Match to Sink Temperature            Jet Aircraft                 Match Optimum Gas
                                     Turbo Machinery Technology         Thermodynamic Properties

        Power                           Cost                              Scalability
        Environment                     Power                             Flexibility
                                                                              Cleaner With
                                                                            Less Maintenance

             Cost advantages come from size and
                    complexity reductions
• Cost
   – Low capital cost thru small facility and compact power conversion
         • Reactor operates at ambient pressure
         • No expanding gases (steam) to drive large containment
         • High-pressure helium gas turbine system
   – Primary fuel (thorium) is inexpensive
   – Simple fuel cycle processing, all done on site

                                            Reduction in core
                                            size, complexity,
                                              fuel cost, and         Fluoride-cooled
  GE Advanced Boiling Water
                                             turbomachinery        reactor with helium
  Reactor (light-water reactor)                                     gas turbine power
                                                                   conversion system
    Thorium Reactor could cost 30-50% Less
                                        (Cost Effective & Grid Interfacing)
    •    No pressure vessel required
    •    Liquid fuel requires no expensive fuel fabrication and qualification
    •    Smaller power conversion system
            - Uses higher pressure (2050 psi)
    •    No steam generators required
    •    Factory built-modular construction
         - Scalable: 100 KW to multi GW
    •    Smaller containment building needed
            - Steam vs. fluids
    •    Simpler operation
            - No operational control rods
            - No re-fueling shut down
            - Significantly lower maintenance
            - Significantly smaller staff
    •    Significantly lower capital costs
    •    Lower regulatory burden
    •    No grid interfacing costs:
         - Inherent load-following
         - No power line additions/alterations
         - Minimum line losses                             Plant Size Comparison: Steam (top) vs.
         - Plant sized by location/needs                   CO2 (bottom) for a 1000 MWe plant