ntouranabout 1 year ago
Just so everyone knows, the online LFTR community has gone supercritical. There are now stories citing stories in circles spreading the good news of Thorium.
A few myths to debunk:
1) Uranium has more energy in it than Thorium. Don't think that MSR/LFTR is the only reactor that can breed. There are 191 MeV/atom of U-233 (the product of Thorium) and 197 MeV/atom of U-238 (in a typical uranium cycle). You have to use BREEDER reactors to unlock the vast majority of this energy. Regular old fast breeder reactors are one option, and Thorium fueled MSRs like LFTR are another.
2) The owner of a LFTR can easily get weapons material. At MSRE in Oak Ridge, the used something called a fluorination process where they pumped in hydroflouric acid (HF) and out bubbled weapons-grade U-235 (in the form of UF6). Of course, that was fueled with weapons-grade U-235. In a Thorium-fueled manifestation (which they subsequently tested), a high power-density core must necessarily separate Protactinium as it is created and keep it out of the core until it decays to fissile (weapons-grade) U-233, at which point they put it back in the core. If you put it in a bomb instead, you'd have bombs. How is this proliferation resistant again? The only solution I've seen is the Denatured-MSR, which is so big and low power density that you don't have to take out the Pa as the core operates b/c it's poisoning is reduced at low power density. LFTRs make it hard to divert weapons material, but if Iran had one, they would make weapon material from it. Fact.
3) MSR development WAS NOT CANCELLED BECAUSE WE NEEDED MORE BOMBS! This is a laughable claim made by the entire LFTR web community, so it seems like it's true thanks to so many articles like this. The MSRE was cancelled by oak ridge themselves so they could focus on developing the larger MSBR reactor. But the DOE was out of cash because they had spent it all on the solid-fueled fast breeder program and so they said, sorry guys, cool idea but we are out of cash. It wasn't some big conspiracy to make more bombs. We had plenty of bomb production capability at the time. Get real, yall!
There are tons of great things about MSRs/LFTRs, but don't think for a second that it's some incredible new power source. It is definitely interesting and should be developed, but if you think it's problem free, you're setting yourself up for disappointment.
BTW, there's a page written by Ph.D. nuclear engineers on these topics at http://www.whatisnuclear.com/reactors/msr.html