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Jeremiah Josey's picture
Founder and CEO The Thorium Network

As Chairman of MECi Group and Founder of The Thorium Network, my attention is on rapid business growth, profit generation, restructuring, operational efficiency, and of course business...

  • Member since 2020
  • 4 items added with 1,290 views
  • Mar 9, 2021
  • 584 views

The Clean Energy Recipe:

The ideal clean energy recipe is science based, fact based, and ultimately, business based.

Ingredients:

- 25% Wind and Solar/PV (EROI <5);
- 25% Waste to Energy (EROI <20);
- 25% Hydro (EROI < 35);
- 25% Bio and hydrogen based systems (EROI 1:1 These are energy transport systems. NB, does not include burning trees);
- 25% Thorium Molten Salt - Nuclear Fission. (EROI 2000:1 - that's not a typo: Two thousand to One).

Method:

- Take a suitable portion of each and mix according to local conditions and timing (for instance Switzerland today can be hydro today but in 30 years time needs to be nuclear);

- Match price per kWh with internationally accepted Austrian based economics (fully internalised, lifecycle costs);

- Arrive at normalised cost of energy under 1 euro cent per kWh;

- Live happily ever after.

PS, what's EROI? Read here for more:

Discussions
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 9, 2021

Interesting to see it spelled out just like this-- is there anywhere in the world that comes close to this desired breakout you see? 

Jeremiah Josey's picture
Jeremiah Josey on Mar 9, 2021

@Matt Chester, Bill Gates is working hard with the French, British and Americans on it. And Andrew Yang (US presidential candidate for 2020) was pledging to have the entire USA running on Thorium Molten Salt by 2030. That should give you an idea of how "close" it is.

Mark Silverstone's picture
Mark Silverstone on Mar 10, 2021

Thanks so much for this update on the status of molten salt reactors.  In some ways it is much like Lucy holding the football.  Will Charlie Brown ever kick it?  Well, he might, if Bill Gates has anything to do with it.

But we have been here before: 

Arrive at normalised cost of energy under 1 euro cent per kWh;

This is too reminiscent of "too cheap to meter".

Andrew Yang´s promise for 2030 seems a bit, to say the least, optimistic. But, all most of us can do is to wait and see. In the meantime, however, it would be folly to take our foot off the accelerator of renewables and storage. 

Jeremiah Josey's picture
Jeremiah Josey on Mar 17, 2021

Yes, kind of like waiting for Biden to give a press conference.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Mar 16, 2021

Molten salt reactors have a dismal economic and operational history. Tens of billions of dollars have been spent and the actual operating time has been minuscule. Pretty much a bridge way too far from a technology standpoint.

The fundamental driver behind the technology is to recycle nuclear fuel. However, vastly more cost effective to simply use the fuel once and then dispose of the waste.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Mar 17, 2021

Well, molten salt does reduce the cost & complexity of fuel reprocessing, and reprocessing does allow them to be part of a breeder cycle, and breeder cycles give nuclear energy inexhaustibility and portability throughout the solar system, but that's a feature in the long-term roadmap.

For initial products most molten salt reactor companies are pitching the high power density (small machines with big output), passive & intrinsic safety, low pressure operation for easily manufactured vessels, and higher operating temperature which boosts efficiency (wrt LWRs) and is compatible with off-the-shelf steam turbines.  

Molten salt reactor startup companies do seem to be attracting money from investors and the DOE.  But it is possible that they will stumble, given the challenge & novelty of liquid fuel.  Kairos Power is proposing a compromise design that keeps the salt for coolant, but embeds the fuel in TRISO pebbles; that keeps most of the power density, all of the high temperature operation & excellent safety, while eliminating the liquid fuel handling issues, but with the disadvantage of somewhat higher fuel costs. Kairos also has a dependency on a special ingredient, FLiBe coolant (made from Fluoride, Lithium, and Beryllium), which has never been manufactured in volume; it will be great if they can develop a supply chain for this special salt, as it is also the special ingredient that helps certain molten salt fueled reactors become break-even breeders. 

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on Mar 17, 2021

Seems to me that the molten salts advocates focus too much on an exotic reactor while not paying enough attention to the practical. The key objective is to produce reliable and reasonably cost effective power as opposed to a novel reactor that has great difficulty working for prolong periods.

The Russian alpha class submarines employed salt reactors and were amazingly fast. However, if the reactor plant cooled off, the salt tended to turn into self welded rock and you got to more-or-less cut all the piping out, which occurred on a number of occasions. The Russians ultimately concluded, the hell with this, They went back to water reactors.

Also, graphite does poorly when surrounded by molten salt and has a very limited lifetime. You have to periodically replace the entire reactor, which is a radioactive mess that has to go somewhere.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on Mar 18, 2021

Every engineering project starts out making assumptions (estimates) about how hard the project will be, sometime you underestimate badly.  That doesn't mean the project should never have been started, because we never have all the answers before we start.

Good point about the graphite needing periodic maintenance.  The good news is that unlike the graphite cores in old British reactors, the modern designs are designed for easy replacement.  The IMSR from Terrestrial will produce about half a billion$ worth of electricity before needing that maintenance (190 MW for 7 years).  For the Terrestrial and Thorcon designs, the graphite and reactor vessel are swapped out with the used fuel.  The plant layouts include space for the old core to cool while the new one is connected and in use, to make the old one easier to transport.

Jeremiah Josey's picture
Thank Jeremiah for the Post!
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