The world as we know it lives or dies on power. In its various forms from Nuclear Reactors to power the grid to carbon based chemicals to power our cars. The main goal of Thorium Manufactured Reactors is to create a paradigm shift in the generation of domestic and international power. In order to create this shift the proposed reactor we intend to manufacture will have the following features:
1) Low cost to build and install of 2 to 3 million per megawatt hour of power over the range of 50MW(e) to 250MW(e)
2) Very low fuel costs of around $15000 per year for a 50MW(e) Plant
3) Generate no radioactive byproducts except what is left in the reactor at decommissioning
4) Have a very high built in safety features which will allow for remote plant control when necessary and have various passive safety features to control the reactor
5) From the nature of the nuclear materials used, they are unusable in the creation of a nuclear weapons, would be very hard to transport off the reactor site along with being very easy to track if stolen
6) Profitable power generation at under one cent per kilowatt hour due to low material costs, no nuclear byproducts generation, low construction costs from the lack of storage facilities and high pressure vessels
7) Produce power with limited impact on natural resources: little need for land, or water and no large cooling towers or buildings
8) Liquid Fuel Reactors will burn nearly all nuclear material, converting it to energy or specialized isotope products
9) The reactor can be configured for medical isotope generation and or NASA Deep Space Isotope Generation
10) Easy to maintain over the 30 year reactor vessel life
As most people after reading the above would have a hard time believing the above claims only this is what would be required for a paradigm shift in power generation and by reading further it will become clear how the above features can be achieved.
There are 3 sources of nuclear fuels for reactors. The first is to burn 235U directly in a reactor. This requires extensive processing and 235U (0.18 ppm) is about as abundant as Silver in the earth’s crust. The second is to convert 238U (2.5 ppm) to 239Pu and burn the 239Pu in a fast breeder reactor. The third and last known method is to take 232Th and convert it to 233U and burn the 233U in a thermal breeder reactor. This third method is the method we will be developing into a safe molten salt reactor. A Molten Salt Reactor runs at high temperature 1100 F (595 C) at 1 atmosphere. The salt creates a homogeneous solution which encapsulates the fissionable material. The system is self-correcting as it self-adjusts to keep the reactor in a safe operating range by the liquid suspension of the fission material. The design will also be able to quickly shutdown in an emergency by flash cooling the molten salt, shutting down the nuclear reaction.
The cost of fuel is very low as Thorium is very abundant in the earth’s crust (10 ppm) and is a normal byproduct of rare earth metals extraction and currently sells for around $120 per lb. of which 5000kg (11000 lbs.) could supply the power requirements of all of North America for a year. The reactor design was developed by the Oak Ridge National Lab as part of the Nuclear Bomber Program.
We would be developing the next phase of a proven reactor design which the government cancelled in 1972 in favor of the fast breeder reactor which proved too difficult to place in wide spread production.
The initial test and development reactor would be a 50MW(e) either a single or dual reactor systems which would generate 50MW(e) which would be sold on the grid when the reactors are operating. With these demo reactors operational, we will be able to market the technology in two configurations.
The first is a small, local site reactor in the 50MW or less range for potential markets, such as small towns as in Alaska, some of which are currently purchasing reactors to power their towns along with specialized sites such as for a cancer treatment center that requires specialized isotope production.
The second reactor is a 250MW(e) reactor which is an enlargement of the base reactor 25 WM model that is aimed at larger metropolitan cities and local power production sites. The reactor can also be configured to produce 238Pu which is needed by NASA for deep space probe power reactors.
The amount required to start the development process is around 40 million. This money will be used to support the company over the first 3 to 4 years during which the small 50MW reactors will be developed and built. This reactors will allow us to develop the necessary required structures that will be sold to customers that will allow individual reactors to be configured to the requirements of the individual owners. In the first 2 years we will also be developing the relationships for the sale of the second+ reactor systems. The planed cost for a small reactor system is approximately 75 million for a 50MW(e) reactor site. The production of the individual reactors will require around 18 months from order/approval to startup. This time is required to build the reactor and support vessels, build the reactor buildings, install the vessels into their required structures and begin the reactor test and startup procedures. The company will require the sale of 2.25 base reactors per year to break even once sales begin. (A base reactor is each 50MW(e) reactor multiple). The reactors will have a 30 year life (due to neutron activation and brittle of the core housing of the reactor vessel materials) at which time they can be replaced with a new reactor to continue power production and the old reactor vessel can be decommissioned and melted down as scrap metal.