Saturday, August 4, 2012

THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal

THORIUM: energy cheaper than coal is a new book about two energy technologies that can solve global warming, sustainability, and energy poverty. Energy cheaper than coal is the only realistic way to dissuade 7 billion people in 250 countries from burning coal to make electricity. Thorium and the molten salt reactor provide the means to manufacture liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTR) at a price that will undercut coal, economically.

Those who still admire the pebble bed reactor may find attraction in a variant, the molten salt cooled pebble bed reactor, described in the book.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

US Dept of Energy saves pebble bed reactor project

South Africa Pebble Bed Modular Reactor

South Africa's Pebble Bed Modular Reactor company has been thrown a $10-million lifeline by the US Department of Energy only a week before its government funding runs out.

But it will not be enough to prevent the retrenchment of three-quarters of the PBMR's 800 staff and the reduction of its executive team from 11 to three. CEO Jaco Kriek resigned earlier this month and other executives are expected to follow.

Minority investor Westinghouse is said to be mulling a further investment.

PBMR has already suspended development of the triple reheat Brayton cycle helium turbine that would achieve the high thermal/electrical power conversion efficiency. Many had hoped this research would be transferable to other high temperature gas cooled reactor projects.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Aim High -- Thorium energy cheaper than from coal

Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor

The liquid fluoride thorium reactor is another advanced nuclear power source, even more promising than the pebble bed reactor. The LFTR uses inexpensive thorium as a fuel, transforming it to uranium-233 which fissions, producing heat and electric power at a cost less than that from coal power plants.

Thorium and uranium are dissolved in molten salt, simplifying fueling and waste removal compared to today's nuclear power plants. Prototype molten salt reactors were developed and tested by the US at Oak Ridge National Laboratories in the 1960s and 1970s. In 2006 the Oak Ridge research papers were scanned and posted on the internet. A collaboration of scientists, engineers, and professional volunteers has begun developing an updated conceptual design for the LFTR.

Aim High

Aim High is a proposal to factory-produce 100 MW electric power reactors to achieve an electric power cost cheaper than from coal. By economically undercutting coal power plants we can dissuade India, China, and the other developing nations from burning coal, without carbon taxes, which they would never accept. Less expensive, affordable electric power is also key to helping the developing nations achieve a modest level of prosperity that leads to population stability.

The Aim High book is available at Amazon. The Aim High website contains a Power Point version of the proposal and more information. The Energy From Thorium website contains an extensive blog, forum, and reference library.

PBMR to run out of cash in 2010

Conceptual layout of a PBMR
Johannesburg's Business Report says the pebble bed modular reactor project is running out of cash. It's initial goals may have to be redirected.

One way to obtain an early benefit from the PBMR is to use its heat directly, deferring the development of the helium turbine and electric generator. South Africa's SASOL company is the largest producer of gasoline from coal. The heat to drive the conversion also comes from coal, leading to increased CO2 emissions. The PBMR heat can be used instead, lowering CO2 emissions. Such process heat could also be used for extracting oil from the Canadian tar sands. Hyperion Power is also exploring this use for its uranium hydride reactor technology.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

UConn prof writes clear PBMR overview

Pelindaba, South Africa, pebble bed work site

Professor Lee Langston writes in Mechanical Engineering
University of Connecticut retired professor Lee Langston has just published a very clear, readable history of the pebble bed modular reactor project underway in South Africa. Pebbles Making Waves is the feature article in the April, 2008, issue of Mechanical Engineering, published by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

I encourage you to read this overview of the history and status of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor project in South Africa.