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EliminatingWaste:Molten

SaltReactors

KyraLawson
IndependentResearchGT
April18,2016
Advisor:Dr.OndejChvla
Dr.MelissaKiehl

Abstract
Thereis,andalwayswillbe,anincreasingdemandforpower.Asthepopulationgrows
andmorecountriesdevelop,clean,safe,andreliableelectricitywillbeneeded.Fossilfuels
cannotcontinuesupplyingmajorworldwidepowerbecauseoftheamountofpollutionthey
causeandthelimitedamountofresourcesavailable.Theanswertothisimportantproblemisthe
moltensaltreactor(MSR).TodeterminehowtheMSRwillsolvecurrentenergyrelated
problems,generalresearchandananalysisoffourscholarlyarticleswereconducted.Thearticles
andresearchincludedinformationaboutcurrentreactordesignsandfuturegenerationdesigns
whichwereanalyzedandcompared.Throughthisresearch,itwasfoundthattheMSRisan
exceptionalreplacementforreactorsinusetoday.Avideowascreatedtosummarizethe
importantissuesrelatedtonuclearenergy,toexplaintothepublictheadvantagesofnewer
reactortechnologies,andtoclarifyhowtheirsupportisimportanttocreatingmoreefficient
technology.
ThepurposeofthisstudywastoprovethattheMSRdesignismuchsafer,cleaner,and
moreefficientthancurrentdesigns.Nuclearenergywillsoonhavethecapabilitytoreplacefossil
fuels.Thisstudygeneralizestheadvantagesanddisadvantagesofconventionallightwater
reactorsandfuturegenerationreactors,specificallytheliquidfueledmoltensaltreactor.Because
theinnovateddesignsoftheMSRhavenotyetbeenphysicallyconstructed,theseresultsare
researchbasedandcannotbecompletelycredibleuntilaphysicalmodeliscreatedand
examined.

Introduction
Althoughthenucleuscontainsaboutonemilliontimesmoreenergythanfossilfuels
(NuclearEnergyInstitute,2010),nuclearenergyonlyprovides19%oftotalU.S.power,while
fossilfuelsprovide67%(WhatisU.S.electricitygenerationbyenergysource?,2015).The
useoffossilfuelsasamainsourceofworldwideenergyisdamagingtheenvironment.The
drilling,extracting,burning,andfrackinginvolvedintheprocessesofconvertingthesefuelsinto
poweriscreatingpollution,erosion,andotherharmfuleffectsthatmaybeirreversibleinthe
future.Nuclearenergy,however,doesnotreleasecarbondioxideandismuchsaferandcleaner
thancoalandnaturalgas.Nevertheless,nucleartechnologythatexiststodaydoesnothavethe
potentialtoreplacefossilfuelsduetoitsexpenseanddangerrisks.Fortunately,thereisanew
reactordesign,themoltensaltreactor(MSR),whichismoreefficient,lessexpensive,andsafer
thanconventionalreactors.Thepurposeofthisresearchistoexaminethedifferencesbetween
moltensaltreactors(MSRs)andlightwaterreactors(LWRs).BecausetheMSRcanbefueledby
wasteandismeltdownproof,itismoreefficientandminimizestheproblemsthatareassociated
withcurrentreactordesigns.Ifthepubliccouldrecognizethetruepotentialofnuclearenergy,
andafewothercriteriacouldbemet,theMSRwouldtakeovertheindustry,increasingthe
productionamountofcarbondioxidefreepower.ThispaperwilldescribehowtheMSRisclean,
safe,andreliable,analyzetheproblemsassociatedwithconventionalreactors,andsuggest
alternateusesfortheMSR.Finally,itwillsummarizetheadvantagesanddisadvantagesof
MSRscomparedtoconventionalreactors.
ReviewofLiterature

Nuclearenergyaccountsforapproximately20%oftheU.S.spowerandmakesupthe
majorityofnongreenhousegasemittingenergysources(Nuclearreactortechnologies,n.d.).
Notmanyinnovationshavebeenmadetoreactordesignssincethe1970showever,thisisabout
tochange(Advancedmodelingandsimulation,n.d.).Theideaofmoltensaltreactors(MSRs)
wasformedinthe1950sandwascloselyexaminedthroughoutthe60sand70sduetothe
nationalemphasisonnuclearpower.Theconceptwasformedandfirstphysicalmoltensalt
reactorwasoperatedattheOakRidgeNationalLaboratory(ORNL)itwasthefirstnuclear
reactortouseU233.Thisoriginaldesignrequired33%enrichedfuel(20%isthelegallimitdue
toproliferationconcerns),operatedat600700C,andhadafouryearmoderatorreplacement
schedule(Moltensaltreactors,n.d.).ThisfirstMSRwasalsoabreederreactor,whichhasthe
abilitytousefueltoitsfullpotentialatomsaresplittocreateenergy,thefissionproducts
resultingfromthissplitcanalsobeusedasfuelinthereactor.Thisdesigndidnotsupplygreat
amountsofpowerfollowingitsconstructionbecausecomparedtotheotherwellknownreactor
design,thelightwaterreactor(LWR),itwastoobulky,inefficient,andexpensive(National
Geographic,2015).LWRsusewaterasacoolant,reachtemperaturesaround325C,andoperate
at150timesatmosphericpressure(Nuclearpowerreactors,2016).TheMSRdesignsare
currentlyunderreexaminationbymanycompaniesandgovernmentorganizationsincluding
MoltexEnergy,FlibeEnergy,TerrestrialEnergyInc.,TransatomicPowerCorp.,Thorcon,and
SeaborgTechnologies.ThispaperwillfocusonthedesignofTransatomicPower.Therehave
beenmanyideasforvariousinnovationsinvolvingaddingtoorchangingtheoriginalMSR
however,nophysicalreactorhasyetbeenconstructed.

Moltensaltreactorsareclean,safe,andreliablesourcesofenergy.TheMSRiscleandue
tothenatureofitswasteproduction.TheMSR,comparedtootherreactordesigns,produces
saferradioactivewasteinsmalleramounts.Thelightwaterreactorcreateswastethatis
radioactiveforhundredsofthousandsofyears(Thescience,n.d.).Thisisamajorissueinthe
nuclearindustrytodaybecauseitisremarkablydifficulttodesignacontainerthathastheability
toisolatewasteoverthatlongperiodoftime.Thecontainersinusetodaydonothavethe
capabilitytomaintainisolationasthecontainersbegintodeteriorate,radioactivematerialswill
bereleasedintheenvironment.However,theMSRproduceswastethatisreactiveforonlyafew
hundredsofyears.Althoughthisseemslikeaverylongtime,itispossibletobuildcontainers
thatwilllasthundredsofyears.IsolatingwastewillnotbeamajorproblemifMSRsareputinto
use.Also,comparedtofossilfuels,nuclearenergyisexceptionallycleanerbecauseitdoesnot
releasegreenhousegases.Burningfossilfuelshascontributedabout78%ofthe90%increasein
greenhousegasamountsfrom1970to2011(Globalgreenhousegasemissionsdata,n.d.).The
increaseofgreenhousegasemissionswillcontinueunlessnuclearenergybecomesamajor
sourceofpower.Duetonuclearpower,theU.S.avoided595millionmetrictonsofcarbon
dioxidein2014(Globalgreenhousegasemissionsdata,n.d.),whichistheequivalentof
removingabout35millioncarsfromtheroads.Duetolessradioactivewaste,lackofgreenhouse
gasemissions,andotherfactors,theMSRisasafesourceofpower.
Moltensaltreactorsareparticularlysafeduetotheiruniquedesign.Themostimportant
componentofaMSRdesignisthefreezevalveandcontainmentvessel.Ifoverheatingoccurs,
whichwouldleadtoanaccidentormeltdown,thenthefreezevalvewouldmelt,drainingthe
radioactivematerialintoasecurecontainmentvesselwherefissionwouldstop(AboutMoltex

energy,n.d.).Therefore,theMSRdesignpracticallyeliminatesanyriskofanuclearaccident.A
tsunamiwipedoutthemainandbackuppowertothepowerplantsinFukushima,Japan,causing
thereactorstooverheatandreleaseradioactivematerial(Adams,2013).Theaccidentcouldhave
beenpreventedifthetechnologyhadbeenupdatedtwoofsixreactorsincludednewer
technology,andneitherofthesereactorsmelteddown.TheMSRdesignhasthepotentialto
preventthesetypesofaccidentssomuchthattheoperatorscouldleaveinthemiddleof
overheatingandthereactorwouldcoolitselfdown.
Lastly,theMSRisareliablesourceofenergy.Becausethefuelisdissolvedinmolten
salt,fuelisusedefficiently(Thescience,n.d.).Thismeansthatthefuelcanstayinthereactor
foralongperiodoftime,allowingmoreextractionofenergyfromthefuel.TheMSRdesigncan
potentiallyuseabout96%oftheenergyinfuelthisiswhythefissionproductsareless
radioactive.Thehighfuelefficiencyalsoallowsthereactortorunoffofspentfuelor1.8%
enrichedfuel(NationalGeographic,2015).ThisspecialabilityoftheMSRcouldleadtosmaller
quantitiesofradioactivewasteremainingundergroundbeforespendingmoneytoacquirefresh
uraniumfuel,wastecouldbeusedfirst.Also,theMSRsdesignhasahighpowerdensity,soitis
compactandeasytomanufactureandtransport(Thescience,n.d.).Duetoitscompactness,the
MSRcouldbeusedinsubmarinesandaircraftandforothernonlandpurposes.Therefore,the
MSRiscleaninwaysrelatedtowasteandgreenhousegasemissions,safeduetoitsuniqueparts,
andreliablebecauseofitsefficiency.
Modernnucleartechnologyhasmanyissuesanddoesnothaveagreatchanceof
providinglargeamountsofworldwidepower.Lightwaterreactorsaredangerous,inefficient,
expensive,andhazardousduetotheirnuclearwaste.Nuclearaccidentsandterroristattackspose

majorrisksinthenuclearfield.Ifameltdownweretooccur,itwouldbetoolatetoprevent
radioactivecontaminationoperatorswouldnotbeabletosupplypowertothereactorsquick
enoughtocoolthemdown(TEDxYYC,&Sorensen,K.,2011),andtheresultwouldbea
nuclearaccidentasdemonstratedinFukushima.Becauseconventionalreactorsrequirehigh
pressurestooperate,terroristattacksonreactorswouldleadtothespreadofradioactivematerial
acrossvaststretchesofland.Contaminatedlandwouldbedangerous,inhabitable,andbarren.
Thosewhowereexposedtoradiationmightdevelopacuteradiationsyndrome(radiation
sickness),injuriestotheskin,cancer,andemotionalandpsychologicaldistress(Possible
healtheffectsofradiationexposureandcontamination,n.d.).Reactorstodayareinefficientdue
tothewayfuelisutilized.Theuraniumfuelisplacedinpellets,formedbyametalcladding.
Thismetalcladdingwearsdownovertime,sofuelpelletsmustberemovedandreplacedinlight
waterreactorsabouteveryfouryears(Thescience,n.d.)thefuelisthereforenotusedtoits
fullpotential.ToincreasefuelefficiencyinLWRs,themetalcladdingwouldhavetobe
innovatedorthereactordesignwouldhavetobecompletelyaltered.Currentreactorsrequire
fourtofivepercentenricheduraniumfueltoproducepower(Whatisuranium?Howdoesit
work?,2014).Theperiodicremovaloffuelandtheenrichmentprocesscontributegreatlytothe
overallcostofLWRsrefininguranium,eventoalowpercentage,canbeveryexpensive.
Furthermore,wasteremainsradioactiveforhundredsofthousandsofyearsduetounextracted
energythatremainsinthepelletsbecauseoftheshortperiodofonlyfouryears(National
Geographic,2015).Thereisnocompletelysafewaytostorespentfuel,socurrentlywasteis
disposedofunderground(Radioactivewastemanagement,2015).Consequently,conventional

reactorsarenotfitforsupplyingsafeworldwidepowerduetotheirdanger,inefficiency,cost,
andspentfuel.
BecausetheMSRisfairlynewtechnology,thereisasmallpossibilitythatitwillprovide
themajorityofpowerinthenearfuture.Despitethisprediction,MSRscanstillassistother
energysources,improvingthecleanlinessandcostofproducingpower,andpowersmaller
noncivilianprojects/areasofinterest.Naturalgasisamainsourceofenergyandispredictedto
increaseinproductionoverthenextfewdecades(Moltensaltreactorsandnaturalgas,n.d.).
However,transportationandfluctuatingpricesofnaturalgasaremajorproblemsinthisfield.
Creatingsyntheticnaturalgas(SNG)wouldsolvetheproblemofunstableprices.Nevertheless,
theprocessforcreatingSNGisratherexpensiveandrequiresgreatamountsofenergythisis
whereMSRscanplayahugerole.ThelargequantitiesofpowerthatMSRsproducecouldeasily
providepowerfortheSNGcreationprocess.Also,becausetheMSRiscompact,itcouldbe
placednearSNGresources,minimizingissueswithtransportationandstorage.
TheMSRhasotherapplicationssuchaspowersupplyonthemoonanddeepspace
exploration.Inthefuture,humanlifemayresorttolivingonthemoonduetooverpopulation,
pollution,orcuriosity.Providingpowerforthemanynecessaryprocessesineverydaylifewould
beaproblemthatwouldneedtobesolved.Nuclearistheonlylogicalsourceofenergyforthis
situation.AthoriumbasedMSRcouldbethekeytocivilizationonthemoon.Thesurfaceofthe
moonisnotlargeenoughtoovercomesolarenergyslowpowerdensity.Windandwaterarenot
presentonthemoon,sohydropowerandwindturbinesarenotoptions.However,thoriumis
abundantonthemoon,andMSRsarecompactenoughtobeplacedpracticallyanywhere.
Nuclearheatcouldalsobeusedtoproducefuelsforcarsandotherpurposeswherenuclearisnot

practical.Nuclearpowerhasandwillpowerspaceexplorations.Forexample,inJulyof2015,a
RPSpoweredspacecraftobservedPluto.Radioisotopepowersystems(RPSs)converttheheat
fromthedecayofplutoniumintoelectricity.Nuclearpowerhasbeenchosentopower
explorationsbecauseitcanfunctionfordecadesundertheharshconditionspresentinspace.
Theyhaveprovensafe,reliable,andmaintenancefreeinmissionstostudythemoonandallof
theplanetsinthesolarsystemexceptMercury(Spaceanddefensepowersystems,n.d.).
Nuclearenergyisimportantforouterspaceresearchbecausespaceexplorationisgenerally
expensiveareliablesourceofenergythatdoesnotrequirefrequentmaintenanceisideal.In
conclusion,MSRshavethecapabilitytoproducecivilianpoweraswellaspowerotherprojects,
expandingthepossibilitiesassociatedwithmoltensaltreactors.
Thereareproblemsassociatedwitheverypieceofnewtechnology.Themoltensalt
reactorhasfourmainproblems:corrosion,cost,governmentregulations,andpublicsupport.
Saltsarecorrosive,meaningtheywearawaythemetalpipingovertime(Moltensaltreactors,
n.d.).Corrosionwouldleadtoleakageandnecessaryroutinemaintenance.Companiesare
currentlyresearchinganddevelopingsolutionstothecorrosionproblem.Costisalsoanissuein
thenuclearfieldbecausetheentireprocessofdesigningandconstructingareactorisvery
expensive.Togetareactorapproved,aR&Ddemonstrationmustoccurfirsthowever,these
demonstrationsrequireagreatamountoffunding(Chvla,2016).Theissuesthataremuchmore
difficulttoresolvearegovernmentregulationsandthepublicopiniononnuclearenergy.
Presently,itisverychallengingtodesignaMSRthatmeetsallrequirements,andthisisdueto
thefactthattheseregulationswereformedaroundlightwaterreactordesigns.Ifthese
regulationschange,Terrapower,aBillGatesfundedcompany,hasagreedtobuildaMSR.This

isprogressivebecausethiscompanyalreadyhasmoneyandresearch,sotheconstructionofthe
MSRwouldoccurrelativelyquickly.Awaytosolvetheregulationproblemwouldbetoincrease
publicsupport,eventuallyleadingthegovernmenttoacknowledgetheneedforreconsideration.
However,changingpublicopinionwillbeverydifficultbecausemanypeoplefearmeltdowns
andradioactivityanddonotunderstandtheverysmallrisksinvolvedcomparedtoothersources
ofenergy.Thus,theadvantagesoutweighthedisadvantages.Ifthesefewobstaclescouldbe
overcome,thentheMSRhasthepotentialtoprovidegreatamountsofpower.
Tosummarize,moltensaltreactorscomparedtoconventionallightwaterreactors,are
muchsafer,cleaner,moreefficient,andlessexpensive.BecausetheMSRdesigneliminatesthe
threatofameltdown,theLWRissubstantiallymoredangerous,asseenintheFukushima
accident.WasteproducedbyMSRsissignificantlysmallerinamountandlessradioactive,so
containingthiswastewouldbemuchmoreeasierandpractical.Thereductioninwastecould
alsoleadtomoresupportersfornuclearenergy,forspentfueliscurrentlyamajorissueinthe
nuclearfield.TheMSRisrelativelyefficientcomparedtotheLWRduetothefueldesign.Fuel
isusedefficiently,canremaininthereactorforyears,andtheuranium,anonrenewablesource
ofenergy,isusedtoitsnearfullpotential.Becausethefuelisusedmoreefficiently,costis
reducedduetothelackofpurificationprocesses.Also,MSRdesignscanbemadeintosmall,
transportablepartsthesepartscanbemassproduced,furtherloweringthecost.TheMSRdoes
notincludemanypartsthatarenecessarytotheLWR,suchasthecontrolandfuelrods,pressure
vessel,andprotectivecontainmentstructure,socostsfortheproductionofthesepartsis
excluded.
ResearchMethodsandDataCollection

Thisstudywasfocussedaroundthequestionsofwhyisthemoltensaltreactordesign
important,andhowwillitimpactthefutureofnuclearenergy?Basedongeneralknowledgeand
backgroundresearch,thehypothesiswas:themoltensaltreactordesignisimportantbecauseitis
amuchsafer,cleaner,andmoreefficientwaytoproduceenergycomparedtocurrentdesignsand
fossilfuels.Ifresearchanddevelopmentcontinues,theMSRmayprovidegreatamountsof
worldwidepowerandpossiblyreplacefossilfuels.
AmetaanalysisoffourscholarlyarticleswasconductedtoanalyzetheMSRssafety,
efficiencyandcost.Foranarticletobeincludedindatacollection,thearticlehadtoinclude:
analysisofMSRs,comparisonofMSRtoothertypeofreactor(LWRorotherGenIVreactors),
advantagesand/ordisadvantagesofMSRs,andinclusionofliquidfueledMSRdesign
(discludingthoriumorbreeding).Articleswereanalyzedintermsofthereactorssafety,
efficiency,cost,applicationstootherfields,anddisadvantages.

ThefourarticlesusedinthismetaanalysisgenerallyshowedsupportfortheMSR
becauseofitssafety,cost,efficiency,andapplicationstootherindustries,buttheyalsonoted
problemssurroundingtheMSRthatmustbesolved(seeAppendixA).Thefirstarticledeeply
analyzedthesafetyofMSRs.Thesecondarticleelaboratedonthedifficultiessurroundingthe
MSRanditspotentialtousethorium.Thethirdincludedanevenspreadofinformationbetween
allcategoriesbutlistedmanyareaswhereactionmustbetakenbeforeMSRssupplypower.
Lastly,thefourthexpandedonthevariouspossibleapplicationsanddesignoptionsoftheMSR.
ResultsandDataAnalysis
TheMSRismuchsaferthanconventionalreactors,andtheywillbedeployedwithinthe
nextfewdecadesifspecificproblems/obstaclesaresolved.Thisconclusionwasreachedby

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analyzingfourscholarlyarticles(seeAppendixA).Theinformationgatheredfromthearticlesis
summarizedinthissection.
TheMSRssafetyadvantageoverconventionalreactorswasnotedinallfourarticles.As
showninFigure1,theuniquedesignincludesasubcriticaldraintankthatallowsoverheating
fuelsalttodrainintoinordertopreventradioactivematerialrelease.Thereareotherbackup
safetysystemsaswellthatarenotincludedinLWRs.Inconventionalreactorspowerisneeded
toshutdownthesystemhowever,MSRspassivelyregulatethemselves,sopowerisactually
needtokeepthesystemrunning,andthereforeameltdownisimpossible.Thispassiveregulation
isalsoshowninthesaltslargenegativecoefficientofreactivityifthereactoroverheats,fission
automaticallyslowsdown.AnotheradvantageMSRshaveoverLWRsisthattheyoperateat
atmosphericpressureduetothesaltshighboilingpoints(seeTable1andTable2).Also,
refuelingduringoperationandcontinuouslyremovinggaseousfissionproductsarepossible
sincethefuelisinliquidform.MSRsalsodecreaseproliferationrisks,outputspentfuel,and
radioactivityofthespentfuel.ThesaltsusedinMSRsarealsosafe,notjustsaferthanwater,
becausetheyarechemicallyinert,resistanttoradiation,andgenerallynoncorrosive.
TheMSRdesignisalsocompetitiveincosts.Duetothefuelbeinginliquidformandthe
lowpressures,thereactorrequireslesspartssuchascontrolrods,agraphitemoderator,steel
pressurevessels,andmore.Also,theMSRcanbeamuchsmallerreactorcomparedto
conventionalreactors,decreasingtheamountofpipingandothermaterialsneeded.MSRsdonot
requirefuelfabrication,whichisaveryexpensivepartoftheuraniumfuelprocess.

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Figure1

Table1

Table2
12

Comparedtoconventionalreactorsandothersourcesofenergy,theMSRdesignisvery
efficient.Thedesignhasahighfuelburnuprate.Thismeansfuelremainsinthereactorfor
longerperiodsoftime,moreenergyisextractedfromthefuel,andfuelresourceutilizationis
increased.TheMSRoperatesathighertemperaturesthantheLWR,sotheyproducemore
energy.HightemperaturescanbereachedinMSRsduetothesaltshighvolumetricheat
capacityandutilizationoftheBraytoncycleturbineispossible(thisturbinemoreefficiently
convertsheattoenergycomparedtoconventionalsteamturbines).Lastly,theMSRhasavery
flexibledesign:itcanbeabreederorburner,runonuranium,thorium,orspentfuel,andhavea
thermalorfastneutronspectrum.
OtherapplicationsforMSRsarebeingnoticed.Eachjournalhaddifferentexamples,but
thehighoperatingtemperaturesofMSRswerenotedbyalljournals.Thesehightemperatures
wouldbehelpfulinotherfieldssuchasoil,steel,gas,cement,andmore.TheMSRwouldnot
onlyprovidelargeamountsofpower,butitcouldalsosupportotherindustries,lesseningthe
otherindustriescostsandreducingtheamountoffossilfuelsused.
Despitetheseadvantages,thereareobstaclesthatmustbeovercomebeforeutilizingthe
MSR.MoreresearchisneededinalmostalltopicsinvolvedintheMSRtoinsureunderstanding
andsafety.Corrosionbetweenthesaltandmetalpipingmustalsobesolved.Newgovernment
regulationsandsafetyanalysisproceduresmustbecreatedtoallowtheconstructionand
operationofMSRs.
Thesearticlescontributedtoansweringthequestionsofwhythemoltensaltreactoris
importantandhowitwillaffectthefutureofnuclearenergy.Tosummarize,theMSRis
importantbecauseitisasaferandcleanerchoiceofenergyproductioncomparedtoconventional

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reactorsandfossilfuels.Theyarealsomoreefficientthanothersourcesofpowerduetotheir
highoperatingtemperatures.ItislikelythatinthefutureMSRswillsupplygreatamountsof
power,replacinginefficientLWRsandpollutingfossilfuels.Inconclusion,theMSRisvery
safe,clean,efficient,andcostcompetitive.Ifcertaincriteriacanbemetandproblemscanbe
solved,theMSRwillhaveahugeimpactonmanyindustriesandworldwidepower.
DiscussionandConclusion
Asprovenabove,theMSRhasmanyimpressiveadvantagescomparedtotheLWR.If
nuclearenergyweretotakeoverandprovidetheworldwithmostofitspower,itwouldhappen
withinthenextthreedecadessincemanydesignsarebeingcreatedtoday.Forthistohappen,
publicandgovernmentsupportisneeded,soawarenessmustbespreadtoinformthepopulation
ofthisnew,safe,andreliabletechnology.Pollutioniscurrentlydestroyingtheworldapushfor
nuclearenergyshouldnotbedelayed.Althoughfossilfuelsandnuclearenergywerenot
thoroughlycompared,thisresearchhasproventhatconventionalnucleartechnologyisnot
capableofreplacingfossilfuels.Nonetheless,withtheutilizationofMSRs,acleanandefficient
sourceofpowerispossible.

14

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AppendixA

Journal

Elsheikh,2013

Ho,2013

Serp,2014

Forsberg,2007

Purpose

Toshowthe
differences
betweenLWRs
andMSRs,andto
explainwhynew
govregulationsare
necessary(tofit
withMSRs
comparably)

Toexplainthe
manyadvantages
andthevarious
disadvantages/
limitationsof
moltensalt
reactors

Todescribethe
reasonswhy
moltensalt
reactor
technology
shouldbe
expanded,andto
listthe
problematicareas
whichrequire
moreresearch

Todescribethe
backgroundof
MSRs,toexplain
thedifferences
betweenclean
saltandmolten
saltreactors,and
todescribethe
possibleusesfor
MSRs

Methods

MultipleMSR
designswere
comparedand
examined.Similar
propertieswere
used,andvarying
possibleproperties
duetodifferences
indesignswere
alsodescribed.

Theoriginal
designsatORNL
andcurrent
designsinforeign
countriesare
evaluated.The
possibilities
availableacrossall
designsarealso
described.

Theoriginal
designfrom
ORNLand
designsinother
countrieswere
examinedand
described.The
general
advantagesand
disadvantages
werelisted.The
variousdesign
optionsavailable
intheMSRwere
alsoexamined.

Pastfluoride
technology/
researchwas
examined,and
specificdesignsof
theAHTR,LSFR,
andMSRwere
evaluatedand
compared.

Results

MSRsaremuch
saferthan
solidfueled

MSRsaresafeand MSRshavemany Therehasbeenan


havemany
advantagesover increaseinneed
advantages
conventional
forhigh

18

Safety/
Cleanline
ss

reactors(LWRs)
whenconsidering
largescale
accidents.
However,less
severeaccidents
aremore
dangerousin
MSRs.

comparedto
PWRs.Using
thoriumor
breedingprocesses
wouldalso
increasethe
reactorsefficiency.

reactors
however,more
researchis
requiredtofully
understandthe
abilitiesofthe
MSR.

temperatureheat,
andtheMSRhas
thepotentialto
providethisheatif
afewproblems
canbesolved.

Dangerous
materialsin
storageare
used/removed
Improve
proliferation
resistance
Negative
temperature
coefficientof
reactivity
Passively
regulate
temperature
Atmospheric
pressure
Saltsare
chemicallyinert:
wontreactwith
air/water
Meltdownis
impossible:fuelis
alreadymolten
Highboiling
point
Fuelcanalways
beadded

NoCO2
emissions
Saltshigh
boilingpoint
Lowneutron
absorptioncross
section
Resistantto
radiation
Gaseousfission
products
continuously
removed:less
decayheatincase
ofshutdown
Refuelduring
operation
Highnegative
coefficientof
reactivity:prevents
excessivechain
reaction
Highvolumetric
heatcapacity
Atmospheric
pressure

Operateatnear
atmospheric
pressure
Fluoridehas
beenusedin
uranium
enrichment,so
notnewconcept
High
volumetricheat
capacityofsalt
Highboiling
pointofsalt
Largenegative
temperature
coefficientof
reactivity
Continuous
gaseousfission
productremoval
Steam
explosionis
impossible(since
waterisnot
coolant)
Subcritical
draintanks

Largenegative
voidcoefficients
Near
atmospheric
pressure
Highboiling
point
Fluoridesaltsare
chemicallystable
Fluoridesaltsare
relatively
noncorrosive
Passive
moderating
Shutdowntank
Manybackup
safetysystems
Refuelingduring
operation
Gaseousfission
products
continuously
removed
Lessradioactive
wasteproduced

19

Cost

Gaseousfission
products
continuously
removed
Controlrods
Drainsystem
Lowpossibility
ofpiperupture
Thereisbackup
defenseifpartsare
manufactured
incorrectly
Longhalflife
isotopesare
reduced
Criticality
accidentsarenot
possibleoutsideof
core

Saltservesas
barrierbetween
fissionproducts
andenvironment
Saltdoesnotgo
underradiolytic
decomposition
Saltdoesnot
attacknickelalloy
piping
Reducedriskof
proliferation
Nomeltdown:
fuelisalreadyin
moltenstate
Draintanks
Noviolent
reactionwithwater
Willnotburnin
air

Reducing
Removessome
amountof
nuclearwastefrom
radioactivewaste environment
Lesswaste
produced
Passively
moderatesitself
Non
proliferation
Saltsare
irradiation
resistant

Competitivecost
comparedtoother
noncarbonbased
sources
Decreased
amountofstorage
spaceforwaste
Reducedscaleof
containment
structures:steel
pressurevessel
Controlrods,etc.
arenotnecessary

Noneedfor
primarynor
secondary
containmentvessel
Reactorsizeand
backupsafety
systemscanbe
reduced
Fuelfabrication
isunnecessary

Betterresource
utilization
Transportation
ischeaper
Less
enrichmentand
fabrication
Controlrods
notnecessary
Moderatornot
necessary
Reduced
equipmentsize

*MSRwas
provedsafeeven
inFukushima
situation

Noneedforfuel
fabrication
Maybecheaper
insomepurposes
comparedtofossil
fuels
Decreased
amountsofpiping,
valves,andheat
exchangers
Graphite
moderatorisnot
necessary

20

Efficienc
y

Increase
resource
utilization
Longhalflife
isotopesare
reduced
Fuelbreedingis
possible

Highburnuprate
(>50%)
Reaches
temperaturesupto
1400Cwhile
PWRsareat
315C
Canburnvarious
fuels:thoriumis
abundant
Goodneutron
economy
Nocracking(in
solidfuelpellets):
fuelcanbeused
longer
Itispossibleto
useBraytoncycle
turbines:compact
and45%
conversion
efficiency

Operateat
highertemps
(700750C)than
LWRs
Highfuelburn
uprate
Designis
flexible:breeder
orburner,
uraniumor
thorium,thermal
orfastneutron
spectrum,
Simplifiedfuel
cycle

High
temperatures
(7001000C)
Braytonpower
cycles:more
efficientfor
convertinghigh
tempstoelectricity
Saltshigh
volumetricheat
capacity
Salthashigh
solubility
Designis
flexible:breederor
burner,uraniumor
thoriumorspent
fuel

Other
uses

Powerlifeonthe
moon

Createheatfor
cement,steel,
oil,and
chemicals[...]
coalgasification,
conversionof
coaltoolefinor
diesel

Oilrefining
Hydrogen
production
Shaleoil
production
Tertiaryoil
recovery

Conclusi
ons/
Limitatio
ns/

Evaluationofa
physicalmodel
Newgov
regulatory
requirements

Corrosion
Highradiation
levelsinprimary
salt:maintainance
dangers

Corrosion
(nickelbased
alloyhasproved
toberesistantto
corrosion)

Notmuch
industrial
experience
Corrosion:
nickelbasedalloys
21

Disadvan
tages

Evaluationof
mixingofprimary
andsecondary
salts

Saltmayfreeze
duringoperation
(459Cmelting
point)
Lackofcladding
(insolidfueled
reactors)
Moreresearch
needed
Greatamountof
resourcesandtime
needed
Funding
New
technologies
Extensivetesting
Qualification
Publicawareness
Beryllium(in
salt)istoxic
Lithiummustbe
almost100%pure:
expensive
Saltchemical
compositionmust
beexamined
closely
Moreresearchon
reactionbetween
fissionproducts
andalloys
Pipingmust
withstandhigh
temps

Pipecracking
Irradiationin
piping
Forbreeder
reactor,
reprocessingis
mandatory
Saltprocessing
ismandatory
Oxide
impuritiesmust
beremoved:
preventcorrosion
Saltpurification
requiresgreat
effort
Morepiping
materialresearch
andtesting
Tritiumis
problematic:
MSRscreate
morethan
LWRs,tritium
controlis
complicated
Heat
exchangersare
likelyto
representthe
mostsignificant
challenges
Newsafety
analysismethods
Researchmust
continue

haveshownto
work,butthis
metallimits
operatingtemp
Topicneedsmore
research
Lithiummustbe
enrichedto
99.99+%
Acceptancefrom
society
Government
regulations

22

23