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Thorcon

Thorcon is a nuclear engineering company that is designing the ThorCon Reactor, a small modular reactor (SMR) that employs molten salt technology. The reactor design is based on the Denatured molten salt reactor (DMSR) design from Oak Ridge National Laboratory[1] and employs liquid fuel, rather than a conventional solid fuel. The liquid contains the nuclear fuel and also serves as primary coolant.[2] ThorCon plans to manufacture the reactors cheaply in shipyards employing modern ship building construction techniques.

History

In December 2015, Thorcon signed a memorandum of understanding with three Indonesian companies to develop its molten salt reactor technology in Indonesia.[3]

A 2017 study included ThorCon and seven other designs.[4] The study concludes that "if power plants featuring these technologies are able to produce electricity at the average LCOE price projected here (much less the low-end estimate), it would have a significant impact on electricity markets."

In April 2018, the United States Department of Energy awarded Thorcon $400,000 as a GAIN research project to be conducted jointly by ThorCon USA Inc and Argonne National Laboratory.[5][6]

Design

ThorCon uses modular shipbuilding production processes except the blocks are barged to the site and dropped into place. Thorcon plans to build its reactors in shipyards, It requires as much steel as a medium size, 125,000 dwt Suezmax tanker.[7] The reactor consists of two main components, steam/electrical and nuclear. The steam/electrical component features the same design and cost ($700/kw) of a 500 MWe coal plant. A 1 GWe nuclear component requires less than 400 tons of supercritical alloys and other exotic materials.[8]

The reactor operates at near-ambient pressure, reducing steel requirements by 50% and concrete requirements by 80% versus a conventional reactor. Little of the concrete must be reinforced.[8]

Passive cooling is needed only in the event of overheating, which first stops the reaction, and then triggers freeze valves to drain the reactor. Fluoride salt reacts with hazardous fission products iodine-131, cesium-137 and strontium-90, preventing their release. Each reactor unit operates for four years, cools for four years, and then is replaced. All recycling occurs offsite. Each power module has two siloed reactor units generating 557 MW (thermal) yielding 250 MW (electric).[9]

Fuel

In addition to (low cost) thorium, a 1 GWe reactor initially requires 3,156 kg of 20% low enriched uranium along with 11 kg per day of operation. Every 8 years the fuel must be changed out. At a yellowcake cost of $66/kg, a $7.50 UF
6
conversion cost and $90 per separative work unit, the levelized fuel cost is 0.53 cents per kilowatt-hour.[8]

Waste product

Every 8 years 160 tons of spent fuel travel to the recycling facility, consisting of about 75% thorium, with 95% of the balance uranium. Without separation (other than removing the salt), the total fuel waste stream averages about 2 m3 per year.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ "ThorCon Power".
  2. ^ Thomas J., Dolan (2017). Molten Salt Reactors and Thorium Energy (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA, USA: Woodhead Publishing. pp. 557–564. ISBN 978-0-08-101126-3.
  3. ^ "Indonesia and ThorCon to Develop Thorium MSR". International Thorium Energy Organization. Retrieved 12 January 2016.
  4. ^ EIRP. "What Will Advanced Nuclear Plants Cost?".
  5. ^ DOE. "GAIN Voucher Recipients 1st Round - 30 Apr 2018" (PDF).
  6. ^ DOE. "Electroanalytical Sensors for Liquid Fueled Fluoride Molten Salt Reactor" (PDF).
  7. ^ Wang, Brian (August 27, 2018). "China and Russia looking at 27 floating nuclear reactors but ThorCon and Indonesia could scale to 100 per year". www.nextbigfuture.com. Retrieved 2018-08-29.
  8. ^ a b c d Wang, Brian. "China and Russia looking at 27 floating nuclear reactors but ThorCon and Indonesia could scale to 100 per year". www.nextbigfuture.com. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  9. ^ Wang, Brian (August 26, 2018). "Global race for transformative molten salt nuclear includes Bill Gates and China". www.nextbigfuture.com. Retrieved 2018-08-30.

External links