Fluoride Action Network

Liquid fluoride thorium reactors: The Aim HIgh program alternative to nuclear & coal

Source: Next Big Future (website) | February 19th, 2009
Industry type: Nuclear Industry

The Aim High program to make factory mass produced Liquid FLUORIDE thorium reactors to replace coal power worldwide

Technical LFTR Advantages [Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactor]

1. LFTR has no refueling outages, with continuous refueling and continuous waste fission product removal.

2. It can change power output to satisfy demand, satisfying today’s need for both baseload coal or nuclear power and expensive peakload natural gas power.

3. LFTR operates at high temperature, for 50% thermal/electrical conversion efficiency, thus needing only half the cooling required by today’s coal or nuclear plant cooling towers.

4. It is air cooled, critical for arid regions of the Western US and many developing countries where water is scarce.

5. LFTR has low capital costs because it does not need massive pressure vessels or containment domes, because of its compact heat exchanger and Brayton cycle turbine, because of intrinsic safety features, and because cooling requirements are halved.

6. An LFTR will cost $200 million for a moderate size 100 MW unit, allowing incremental capital outlays, affordability to developing nations, and suitability for factory production, truck transport, and site assembly.

7. It will be factory produced, like Boeing airliners, lowering costs and time, enabling continuous improvement.

8. It can make hydrogen to synthesize vehicle fuels from recycled waste CO2, reducing foreign oil dependency.

9. It could convert air and water to ammonia for fertilizer, whose production today absorbs > 1% of all the world’s energy.

10. Its molten salt fuel form facilitates handling and chemical processing.

11. LFTR is intrinsically safe because overheating expands the fuel salt past criticality, because LFTR fuel is not pressurized, and because total loss of power or control will allow a freeze-plug to melt, gravitationally draining all fuel salt into a dump tray, where it cools convectively.

12. 100% of LFTR’s thorium fuel is burned, compared to 0.7% of uranium burned in today’s nuclear reactors.

13. LFTR is proliferation resistant, because LFTR U-233 fuel also contains U-232 decay products that emit strong gamma radiation, hazardous to any bomb builders who might somehow seize control of the power plant for the many months necessary extract uranium.

14. In the LFTR, plutonium and other actinides remain in the salt until fissioned, unlike today’s solid fuel reactors, which must refuel long before these long-lived radiotoxic elements are consumed, because of radiation and thermal stress damage to the zirconium-encased solid fuel rods.

15. No plutonium or other fissile material is ever isolated or transported to or from the LFTR, except for importing spent nuclear fuel waste used to start the LFTR.

NOTE: See website for more information