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China Starts Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor Project

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the high-sodium-high-energy-diet dept.

Power 387

greg_barton writes "The Energy From Thorium blog reports, 'The People's Republic of China has initiated a research and development project in thorium molten-salt reactor technology. It was announced in the Chinese Academy of Sciences annual conference on Tuesday, January 25.' The liquid-fluoride thorium reactor is an alternative reactor design that 1) burns existing nuclear waste, 2) uses abundant thorium as a base fuel, 3) produces far less toxic, shorter-lived waste than existing designs, and 4) can be mass produced, run unattended for years, and installed underground for safety."

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Where we should have been years ago already (3, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064254)

If it weren't for the enviro-nuts and not-in-my-backyarders who think electricity magically comes from the socket and not instead from coal plants and the like.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064266)

^^ TRUTH ^^. I visited China a couple months ago, thinking about moving there. Less bullshit than here, that's for sure. Less fatties and higher quality pussy, too. Yellow girls love American dick.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (5, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064268)

Well that and the conflation of defense-industry nuclear materials production with energy production -- thorium reactors are almost certainly better for generating power, but they don't help you build nuclear bombs, so they get less funding (or at least they have historically).

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (2, Informative)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064428)

Off topic, but with this new layout, GP is modded 2, while parent is modded 5, but GP shows up minimized and parent (modded 5!) doesn't even show up without first expanding GP.

These are the default settings (the slider even says 1 full), but none of the comments are showing up as full.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (0)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064448)

At least, this was true while GGP was still at 2.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (1)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064566)

I've been frustrated with the same problem ever since the new layout. Many +5 comments are unseen until I happen to click on the parent post.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35065092)

Moreover, if the score of a reply is between +1 and +3, it is not displayed unless the comment is expanded.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064576)

And this despite the discussion setting being explicitly set to have a one line summary for everything, -1 included. I hope this is a bug.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (3, Interesting)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064968)

The old discussion system (D1) is still available and works correctly.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064496)

Well, to be fair, if there was no development of nuclear weapons we would never even have seen nuclear energy in the first place - it is way too expensive to do commercially. There is no single nuclear power plant that was ever built anywhere in the world without huge government subsidies, even without calculating the overhead of the nuclear weapons manufacturing.

Except those in the Civilization and its clones, which is what the Slashdot crowd is basing their knowledge on.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (0)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064702)

If the traditional coal/gas plants would not be allowed to dump their waste in the air but had to get the CO2 out of it again (by planting new forests or scrubbing the air) the nuclear reactors would definitely be commercial feasible, even if they would also have to take care of a safe place to store or reprocess the spent fuel.
The spare patches of earth would soon be covered with trees so scrubbing would be the only thing left. The problem with scrubbing: it's not energetically feasible. To get the CO2 out again costs more energy than you got (due to not 100% efficiency).

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064786)

Utter BS. The traditional coal/gas plants have not been dumping waste in the air since there was an explosion of regulation in the 80s, which required an expensive and extensive retooling of the plants to stop virtually all of the toxic byproducts of burning coal. It didn't lead to the collapse of the industry and a corresponding nuclear boom, just the opposite. Besides, nuclear energy was much more heavily sponsored then than it is now. Gas has been quite clean from the outset.

I don't even wish to touch the idiocy of your statement that is equating CO2 emissions from coal/gas power plants (which are essentially harmless), to the kind of toxic waste that nuclear power produces, which is anything but. Which isn't a small idiocy, believe me, even counting the guesstimated effects of global warming, global climate change and the impending apocalypse those two will undoubtedly bring in the very near future.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064662)

Well that is of course if it works. I would have thought that if Thorium reactors had so much going for them someone would have had one going by now. There must be enough countries that could have afforded to build one that have no nuclear weapons program to provide raw materials for. Anyway I hope it works. Having another energy alternative would be good.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (2, Informative)

sharkbiter (266775) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064722)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Susana_Field_Laboratory

Umm, err... Yes, sodium cooled reactors are perfectly safe. Just look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monju_Nuclear_Power_Plant.

Perfectly safe, using liquid metal...

(Yeah, I'm cherry picking here but I really hate the fact that I had to dig deep to find that there are several incidents around the world concerning liquid metal cooled nuclear power plants and the fact that the mainstream "green" media chooses to ignore them.)

Perhaps some kind and statistical person here would crunch the numbers and show the statistics of liquid metal vs water cooled reactors as far as incidents go? I'm thinking that the 1959 incident at SSFL introduced more rads than the 3 mile island incident of the 70's as an example.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (4, Insightful)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 2 years ago | (#35064994)

The MSR reactors are neither liquid metal cooled nor water cooled. I don't see the relevance.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064312)

So instead of doing something about it yourself, you blame other people?

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (2)

bloodhawk (813939) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064406)

That is his point, many people have tried to get governments to move to these more efficient and safer reactor designs and are constantly blocked by enviro-nuts and pure ignorance.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (5, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064350)

Especially since we have an estimate 400k tonnes of the stuff at $80/kg mined. I like the fact that this salt bath solution in that it is passively safe in that heat distorts the geometry slowing reaction rates and also they can drain the bath into subcritical loads quite easily (and I'd imagine you could make the drain plug out of a material that would melt above your normal reaction temp but well below critical level).

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064480)

Unless something goes TERRIBLY TERRIBLY wrong, mine comes from Nuclear/Hydro power. Maybe a touch of wind or solar, though I haven't specifically opted into that program.

Admittedly, the coal-fired plants may get their coal barged up the river, I'm not sure if any of them are upstream of me, but if I stood on a high building, I could see the Sequoya cooling towers.

Not quite in my backyard, but I wouldn't mind if it were closer.
 

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064578)

Blame Reagan [theenergycollective.com] .

Note how in 1980 all non-defense govt r&d dropped precipitously. Then during the 90s when oil dropped to $10/barrel and the free market abandoned alternative energy research, govt had the perfect opportunity to fulfill its role of investing in the kind of long-term disruptive research biz is too short-sighted to do - but govt didn't.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064604)

This is one of the reasons why the US will stagnate within the next 2 decades, and become a 2nd world R&D exporter.

One of the main reasons? Corporate strangulation for competition with public funds. When Corporations control how the taxes get spent, greed overcomes the concept of actual America progress. The foreign debt ceiling will eventually peak, and we will be dumped faster than we can react, leaving us adrift in our own excesses.

China is a monster waiting to erupt as the World leader. Anyone who doesn't recognize this by their continued technological expediency is either blind or naive.

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (3, Informative)

Pontiac (135778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064800)

Try where we WERE years ago..
FFTF was a sodium cooled reactor built at Hanford in 1982 and run until 1992
http://www.hanford.gov/files.cfm/fftffocus.pdf [hanford.gov]

Re:Where we should have been years ago already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064956)

Gosh. Why aren't YOU in charge? I guess you should have studied a little harder and worked a little harder... looks like the environuts and notinmybackyarders completely out-flanked you. Sucks, man... we were all counting on you... and you just let us down.

Patent infringement time? (2)

LoverOfJoy (820058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064276)

So is it our turn now to steal their patents?

Re:Patent infringement time? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064314)

Well, we did run this in Oak Ridge back in the day - it is the high temp/no-flex materials that were the problem, in that they didn't exist.

Re:Patent infringement time? (2)

steelfood (895457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064462)

Being willing to violate their patents isn't going to do a damned thing if everybody's too adverse to doing so to begin with. Copying blueprints is just a copyright violation. You actually have to build something to violate a patent.

Re:Patent infringement time? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064652)

Hey, why not send them a Cease and Desist order? That ought to help reduce any competition in the niche.

Re:Patent infringement time? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064860)

You can't steal patents, only ignore them.

Re:Patent infringement time? (1)

M8e (1008767) | more than 2 years ago | (#35065110)

You can trick people to sell a patent to you for $0(or $1?), or "if you don't give us that patent we will sue you for this, this, this and that."

If you like this idea .... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064280)

For those of you that think stuff like this is a good idea
http://www.hyperionpowergeneration.com/index.html

A fresh new scenario... (1)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064294)

... for the "China syndrome"?

Go China! (3, Interesting)

neiras (723124) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064304)

I've been running across tantalizing scraps of info about thorium reactors and their supposed advantages for years. I half thought the theory must be questionable (obviously I'm no physicist) largely because if it were so promising, why would thorium designs not be prevalent in Europe or the US?

This is exciting news. Seems like China is the place to be if you're looking to experiment with new (or old, rediscovered) ideas.

Re:Go China! (4, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064366)

They aren't prevalent because the commercial nuclear industry grew largely out of the military industry which needed two things, fuel for bombs and small light reactors for ships and submarines.

Re:Go China! (2)

Arterion (941661) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064486)

Do you think it's an economic issue? That is, it's still cheaper to use up fossil fuels and the like than to invest in nuclear? Or is it, as lots of others point it, a lot of NIMBY-ism and stifling regulations? Or maybe the lobbies and economy power of the existing power industries are blocking the advancement of this kind of technology?

Re:Go China! (1, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064516)

Both, it's cheaper because of NIMBYism. Most of the cost of a modern plant is not for the physical plant itself but for all the permitting process and the cost of interest while everything is tied up in court. That's why I had hope when they started talking about guaranteed loans and type certified designs to reduce the time to implement when Obama was elected, but not much has come of it yet.

Re:Go China! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064588)

Bollocks. Even in places like Eastern Europe, where many governments are eager to build nuclear stations to the point of stepping on legitimate safety concerns, and where cheap seed Russian finance is usually made available by Rosatom, it was impossible to raise capital to build nuclear plants. Even in 2004-2006, during the largest ever boom of liquidity, when cheap money was available for all kinds of worthless shit. Even in countries that have running nuclear plants, and don't need to import expensive expertise.

And even there the initial quotes tend to rise steeply as plants near completion. For example, a certain plant project I am quite familiar with started with an initial offer of EUR 4b per 750MW reactor (that excluding all land acquisition and infrastructure expenses). By the time financing was promised at this level (which took a little over a year) the offer price per reactor has more than doubled to EUR 9.5b. That still excluded all other expenses, and doesn't touch the issue of storage and reprocessing of used fuel. Once a proper calculation is made, even with a rather unrealistic assumption that the reactor will operate all serviceable life at 90% or more of capacity, it turns out that the electricity costs close to what expensive "alternative" energy costs.

No, my friend, whatever you believe, nuclear energy is very, very expensive, even if it is done with all possible government support. That is why it only catches on in countries where the cost of building isn't an issue, or where the government officials get rich on the deals.

Re:Go China! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064804)

Since it's a matter of national security, and good for the environment, etc., govt should print the money to fund alternative energy. If it's a good idea it should be implemented no matter what economics dictates. Economics is not the central problem of mankind.

Re:Go China! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35065080)

Seeing as Economics is the the study of the methods of distribution of goods and services amongst mankind, and that the central problems of mankind tend to be due to the scarcity of resources, I would say you are absolutely wrong in every possible way.

Secondly, On the international stage, printing more money does not give you increased wealth to work with. All it does is reduce the per-unit value of the currency you have, based on the value of resources (materials, research, or otherwise) your country is expected to produce. To properly invest in alternative energies it would mean allocating a larger % of the value available (represented in existing money supply) to this.

Of course most people don't have any sense of perspective and would begrudge the expenditure, and still others would try to use the incentives to create alternative energy to get some of these resources for themselves such as happens in any situation where resources become easier to obtain (which is a problem for anything at all not saying specific to alternative energy).

Re:Go China! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064660)

Do you think it's an economic issue?

I remember hearing that it is an economic issue, but not in the way that you speculate.

The reason traditional reactors have been popular is way that those building them make profits. Rather than taking a large profit on the initial construction, they build the reactor for near cost with contracts in place to provide the expensive nuclear fuel on an on-going basis. The power companies like this better as well because it's easier to build the cost into the electric bill than it is to raise a ton of up-front money.

But this business model doesn't work for thorium because the reactor fuel is abundant and comparatively dirt-cheap (literally...the presentation I saw said that if you dug up a cubic yard from your back yard, you'd likely have enough Thorium to "orbit an SUV.") So if a company is trying to make money building LFTRs, they've got to make them expensive, which makes them harder to finance.

Re:Go China! (2)

eggnoglatte (1047660) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064906)

That doesn't explain why countries without a nuclear weapons program haven't gone that way. For example, Canada and Germany gave up nuclear weapons ambitions decades ago, but they both have the technology to build nuclear reactors, and they export those reactors to other countries.

Re:Go China! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35065002)

Interestingly, a single reactor could have provided all the fuel needed for all the bombs... yet the US built like 110 or more of these reactors. Now we have so much bomb fuel we're out of storage space for it, and... no legitimate bomb targets. Talk about overkill. This is why I, for one, am suspicious of the nuke fanboi overthetop enthusiasm. Let's keep the pace slow, let's fix the current issues... then move ahead...

Re:Go China! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064454)

They aren't prevalent because despite the promises, not one country that has tried making a working, cheap, serviceable thorium reactor has succeeded so far. And the countries that have invested most time and money (e.g. India), have fared worst.

Re:Go China! (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064574)

Bad summary, thorium reactors were built and researched in the 60s, then abandoned as uranium reactors easier to make. But now there is a renewed interest and investment by China, Russia, and India. India actually is the leader, having working fast thorium breeder and several research reactors. India is now working on thorium fuel cycle. Reason for revival is that uranium supply will run out in about 70 years, but earth has thorium for four thousand years of use. Low proliferation risk, and the reactors can also burn and breed our stored reactor waste as fuel.

Re:Go China! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064666)

That is the sales pitch.

The reality is, there is little practical evidence that thorium reactors will be significantly cheaper (actually, they are more expensive) or safer (they are harder to control, and produce waste that is at least as toxic and radioactive as the uranium and plutonium ones).

So far, no single thorium reactor has been built that has produced more that it has cost to make. And this ain't changing, because the designs that ask for exotic super-materials that still aren't there haven't changed.

As a result, while India is the "leader" in investment and time spent on research, they are the biggest loser in terms of actual results and recouping costs. Their program has not run into the ground only because the people who allocate money to government projects are not the same group that actually pay the said money. The lesser losers are those, that have invested less.

Re:Go China! (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064868)

India is not working on molten salt reactors, as far as I know.

Thorium will last as long as the Earth is habitable, as would Uranium in breeder reactors.

Re:Go China! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064626)

Yep definitely. There are only a few manufactures who design nuclear reactors.

Also, mining Uranium is also big business. Basically manufactures have invested so much money in R&D, they would be hard pressed to switch to different reactor designs.

Good on the Chinese. All I've been reading are articles on how China steals technology. Just goes to show they are getting closer to actually becoming world leaders in certain fields.

Greed (0)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064720)

A thorium reactor does not require the expensive hard-to-make enriched uranium fuel rods that conventional pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors do.

The manufacturers of nuclear reactor technology such as General Electric Nuclear and Westsinghouse Electric make big money from selling the expensive fuel rods and have no interest in reactor designs that dont need such fuel roads.

Re:Greed (3, Interesting)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064902)

A thorium reactor does not require the expensive hard-to-make enriched uranium fuel rods that conventional pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors do.

No, it requires special alloys for piping the molten salt (fluorides are still corrosive), may require replacing the graphite moderator every 4 years (keep in mind not to allow moisture to come in contact with the salt, HF is nasty for your pipes no matter what material you'd be using), raises challenges in regards with by-product processing. citation [wikipedia.org] if one needs it.

These guys [ornl.gov] (which played with MSR since '50-es) are saying, while the reactor accident risks are decreased, the processing accident risks are increased (see page 13-15).

Re:Go China! (1)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064780)

Awesome! Now there's some technology worth stealing for the US. Let's see how they react when everyone starts stealing technology from them.

Re:Go China! (1)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064842)

I've been running across tantalizing scraps of info about thorium reactors and their supposed advantages for years. I half thought the theory must be questionable (obviously I'm no physicist) largely because if it were so promising, why would thorium designs not be prevalent in Europe or the US?

Predominately because it doesn't produce weapons grade material as a daughter product. Our atomic industry is based on the capability to produce weapons from our energy industry.

Thorium reactors could be good *if* the spent fuel stream is dealt with properly. Looking at the decay chain all the half-lives appear to highly energetic. I believe some isotope of Thallium is the eventual waste product, a highly energetic gamma emitter. It implies a short half life but I doubt it's th-208 or 209 I guess you'd have to understand the decay chain better. But China has a great record will dealing with environmental issues responsibly, so it should all be hunky dory!!

This is exciting news. Seems like China is the place to be if you're looking to experiment with new (or old, rediscovered) ideas.

Of course, if German engineering can't make a Thorium based pebble bed reactor work properly then the Chinese at just the people with the right engineering skills to make it all happen...

Re:Go China! (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064888)

Several answers, but it mostly in the USA it comes down to planning to get money from legacy designs and fleece the taxpayer instead of doing new research. Since the customer is always a government there has been almost no effort to produce something economically viable and practicality takes a back seat to influence. That is why the US nuclear industry has spent far more on lobbying than R&D. Eventually startups and overseas innovation will produce something useful and dinosaurs such as Westinghouse (whose current offering is a cut down TMI painted green - perfectly safe but a vast amount of money per MW) will die off to make way for viable nukes. Most of the US nuclear industry is about twenty years behind South Africa (pebble bed) and will probably never catch up to India and China's accelerated thorium reactors.

Incoming "Chain-Reaction" footage on CCTV?? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064310)

I know the Chinese love Keanu, and that movie had some definitely propagandable scenes

Initiated. (2, Informative)

noobermin (1950642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064322)

Note the stub says they have initiated R&D. Not that they have a plan or design, etc.

Also one of the more annoying things mentioned on that page are their intention to maintain IP over it. Sigh...

Re:Initiated. (1, Funny)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064348)

You mean they've initiated plans to steal most of the necessary designs from somebody else then plug whatever the remaining holes are.

Re:Initiated. (1)

noobermin (1950642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064382)

What I'm hinting at is probably close to what you are. This really is nothing new, only that finally it seems someone is backing the development of an MSR.

Re:Initiated. (3, Insightful)

gmaslov (1983830) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064514)

That is how progress is made. I think the relevant quotes are "shoulders of giants", "those who ship, win", and possibly even "shit or get off the pot".

Re:Initiated. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064362)

Well in that case, the rest of us might as well just sit around and burn coal for another 20 years.

Who cares? (1)

pablo_max (626328) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064616)

You mean like how China has Siemens install a maglev train "Tester". Then puts the full project on hold until China can reverse engineer it, then tells Siemens, no thanks, we are gonna make our own.
Or how they steal the military tech from EU and US?
Or how they try to reverse engineer Intel kit?

Who the fuck cares about Chinese IP law? If they build it and it works, we steal the fucking plans.

Re:Who cares? (1)

Ardx (954221) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064844)

The problem is... our law doesn't allow for "turn about is fair play".

Gentlemen... (3, Funny)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064332)

We now face a Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor gap.
However Jimmy from Cub Scout Den 561 assures us that our nation's Sugar Crystal Nucleation Reactors are operating at optimal conditions.

ARGH (3, Insightful)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064334)

This is infuriating. While the oil and coal shills in Congress and the conservative propaganda networks insist global warming is not real, and while the Greens refuse to have anything to do with nukes, China will be light-years ahead of us in technology.

Don't worry. (3, Funny)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064476)

The US can probably just install a virus into their computers to make the plants worthless. The US might be labeled as terrorists for doing something so dangerous, but it is a small price to pay to hold the temporary status quo.

Re:Don't worry. (3, Insightful)

taiwanjohn (103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064594)

Not sure it's necessarily bad for the US if China has this technology. The more energy they get from nukes, the less China will compete for oil on the int'l market.

Re:ARGH (2, Insightful)

paesano (784687) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064526)

...and it's even more infuriating that the lefties forced us to abandon practical forms of energy (like nuclear) some 30+ years ago using the same fear tactics that they are now using to get us to waste our time on windmills and solar farms. Speaking as a conservative, and for most of the conservatives that I know, I'd love to see us move in the same direction as China. Just please, please don't try to scare me with stories of how the sky is falling. Talk to me about limited natural resources and the need to create reliable, abundant energy for a growing population and emerging societies, and I'm listening.

Re:ARGH (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064882)

Take a look at what happened to govt investment in research under Reagan. Govt can't leave things up to the private sector, AT & T was against the idea of the internet at first because it didn't fit in with their business model. Govt must spend, print debt-free money, to create the kind of disruptive research that scares the private sector because it's so uncertain.

Re:ARGH (0)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 2 years ago | (#35064976)

...and it's even more infuriating that the lefties forced us to abandon practical forms of energy (like nuclear) some 30+ years ago using the same fear tactics that they are now using to get us to waste our time on windmills and solar farms.

Uh you mean like an understanding of the science and engineering? What a poor excuse for ignorance calling this a political discussion to win points. If you want to bemoan the failure of the nuclear industry then blame lines that were used to sell nuclear power in the first place;

Power too cheap to meter...

Lightning will never strike twice...

The waste problem will be a non-issue by 1984...

if it's possible to solve the engineering issues the why hasn't it been done? Why does the Price-Anderson act *still* exist? Still drinking that kool aid I see...

Speaking as a conservative, and for most of the conservatives that I know, I'd love to see us move in the same direction as China.

Riiight. So speaking as a conservative you want to see the US moving in the same direction as Communist China. You're saying that the communist system is better. As a conservative that's an interesting position. I reckon the perpetual energy generated by the consternation in your mind is enough to power the world...roflYSST!!! What is it about the communist system you like best, comrade conservative?

Talk to me about limited natural resources and the need to create reliable, abundant energy for a growing population and emerging societies, and I'm listening.

Sure, you mean like the energy expended on extracting uranium vs what is generated, ie the Net Energy Output. There is plenty of that science stuff to back it up, but let's try a pop quiz since you're sooo enlightened, comrade. Why don't you quote the energy expenditure on soft ore and hard ore that contains U-235 or let me know when you figure out what the actual concentrations of uranium are per ton of rock. Then we might be able to have that conversation...comrade.

Re:ARGH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35065104)

You KNOW his post had nothing to do with them being communist. You sound like a fundy arguing like that.

It is simple fact that solar and wind can not get us anywhere near off of fossil fuels. Nuclear can.
The research environment in the US is stifled by over regulation and fear mongering, it simply is not profitable to do it under this kind of climate.

I want 100% nuclear. I want a nuke reactor literally in my backyard. I want to drive electric cars that have been charged with power that is clean and cheap and with modern reactor design completely safe.

This can happen now. There is enough nuke fuel to last us 1000 years and that takes into account projected increased energy use. That should be just enough time for fusion to be figured out i think.

Re:ARGH (0)

thynk (653762) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064606)

You left out the reasonable people who read both sides of the argument and have yet to be convinced that global climate change is man made.

I would love to see a 10-20 year plan to phase out "clean" coal and replace it with nukes. I think it would provide jobs for the displaced coal plant workers without making the utility bills sky rocket. It would give us a nice bridge for the next 50 years when the tech behind solar, wind and tidal energy sources becomes viable in the market place.

The problem comes from people. An individual is generally reasonable and open ideas, people as a whole are not. For example, the same country that elected Obama also elected Bush. Twice.

Re:ARGH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35065078)

What the hell do you know about "the greens refuse to have anything to do with nukes"?

Lots of "greens" are pro nuclear.

Cheap clean power is social justice (0)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064340)

Access to abundant, cheap, clean power for personal usage, including single occupant transport, is social justice. It looks like China is going to provide this to its citizens without launching oil wars in the Middle East. I'm not a fan of the current government in China but this a rare gold star for them from me.

Re:Cheap clean power is social justice (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064482)

I'm not a fan of the current government in China but this a rare gold star for them from me.

I'll send it to them, but I don't think they'll be too keen.... they've already got some [worldatlas.com] , you see.

Re:Cheap clean power is social justice (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064748)

"Well, I'll ask him, but I don't think he'll be very keen...Uh, he's already got one, you see?"

Re:Cheap clean power is social justice (0)

afabbro (33948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064498)

Access to abundant, cheap, clean power for personal usage, including single occupant transport, is social justice.

1972 called. They want their dope-addled buzzword back.

Re:Cheap clean power is social justice (1)

xclr8r (658786) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064856)

It looks like China is going to provide this to its citizens without launching oil wars in the Middle East. I'm not a fan of the current government in China but this a rare gold star for them from me.

Not the Middle East but China has been throwing their weight around in Africa over oil. They are by know means innocent players and there has been fall out on a local level. I grant you the point that it seems that they are trying to move in the right direction.

Is this... (0)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064358)

...the real reason the government keeps telling us to cut our sodium intake?

Re:Is this... (2)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064760)

No. The real reason is: To much sodium is bad for you. It increases blood pressure.
Disclaimer: There is no long term research that indicates this, although it seems like it does.
Funny how they always forget that disclaimer.
Disclaimer on the disclaimer: I have lowered my sodium intake.

Tomorrow, on CCTV: (2)

blankinthefill (665181) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064396)

Westerners believe that footage from The China Syndrome (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078966/) is passed off as actual working footage of the reactor. Ironically, the footage is real.

Slight exaggeration (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064444)

The realities of those 4 points: 1)burning existing waste is really expensive and you have to run the reactor at a lower power level so it is not economically viable until uranium becomes prohibitively expensive(30-50 years from now) 2)while thorium is abundant the fuel behavior in a reactor is not as well known and more importantly its much less stable and more prone to clad failure(fuel leaking into the primary coolant) which usually forces an unplanned shutdown or reduction in output power until the next refueling. 3) blatant lie. 4) This is a claim that can only be made after years of experience because we(both the US and China) lack the capability to model fast reactors well.

Generation IV reactors like this one will probably be much more practical in 20 years time, but currently they make little sense unless you don't have access to uranium(ie India).

Re:Slight exaggeration (1)

norpy (1277318) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064586)

<quote><p> 3) blatant lie. </p></quote>

[citation needed]

Re:Slight exaggeration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064624)

IANAP but doesn't radioactive material with a shorter half-lif give off more radiation. So I'd assume that shorter lived waste would be more toxic, not less.

Re:Slight exaggeration (1)

Neil Boekend (1854906) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064794)

It really depends. A short lived waste that sends out alpha radiation is less toxic: don't eat, drink or breath it and you'll be fine since the radiation is stopped by your skin. You just have to cool the casings really good since the will get hot. But if you use that heat to heat a city you are golden.
The amount of waste is less as well, since a tonne of thorium contains as much energy as 200 tonnes of uranium

Re:Slight exaggeration (3, Informative)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064934)

clad failure

There is no cladding on the fuel.

we lack the capability to model fast reactors well.

This is not a fast reactor. It is thermal.

We don't have a lot of experience with molten salt reactors, which is a large part of what China is researching. Your criticism is at least premature.

In other news... (2)

afabbro (33948) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064510)

...I've initiated a research and development initiative into warp core design.

Nice but.. (1)

Ventriloquate (551798) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064536)

how do they fare against an earthquake?

Oh man! (1)

Jakester2K (612607) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064552)

I though it said MORTON Salt!

Communism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064592)

Sputnik.

Fusion Chips (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064638)

Mmmm Mmm, molten salt and fusion chips.

They understand this? (1)

droopus (33472) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064650)

I quote from the OP link:

"The main task of this meeting are: to take Deng Xiaoping Theory and "Three Represents" as guidance, comprehensively implement the scientific concept of development, conscientiously study and implement the Congress, seventh session of the Fifth Plenum and the Central Economic Work Conference, in-depth study and implementation of the central leading comrades academicians important speech on the General Assembly, in-depth implementation of the State Council executive meeting of the spirit of 105. Review and sum up the knowledge innovation project to mobilize and organize the implementation of the hospital in-depth "Innovation 2020", the deployment priorities in 2011."

If they can actually understand this, I might as well sit in the corner and eat Twinkies for the rest of my pointless life.

Re:They understand this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064802)

Google translator sucks ass.

Re:They understand this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#35065008)

If they can actually understand this, I might as well sit in the corner and eat Twinkies for the rest of my pointless life.

I think it's time you start stocking up on Twinkies. You'd need 'em.

Very dangerous. Corrosive coolant + nukes = bad (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064676)

Just view the sodium reactor experiment doc on youtube. Sodium caused a catastrophe in Simi Valley California. Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAHmaEs5cYU

Re:Very dangerous. Corrosive coolant + nukes = bad (1)

Pontiac (135778) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064848)

FFTF (Fast Flux Test Facility) ran for 10 years (1982-1992) with sodium as a coolant without incident.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fast_Flux_Test_Facility [wikipedia.org]

Simi Valley was a test reactor built in 1959..

Re:Very dangerous. Corrosive coolant + nukes = bad (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064972)

The French have had a lot of problems with liquid sodium as well. They solved many but not everything. Look up "liquid metal embrittlement" to see why it is a difficult problem. Note I'm not saying that makes things impossible (eg. mercury in glass thermometers don't suffer from that) just pointing out why some problems occur. Hopefully I've phrased that carefully enough to repel any weirdos that assume anything other than blind worship is anti-nuclear.

Yawn (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064680)

Better reactor designs have been around for a very long time. My dad was studying thorium-fueled plants that cycle helium back in the 1970s (I'm 53). Unlike water cycle plants the helium doesn't contain or pick up other atoms (much), so doesn't become radioactive from irradiation. You build the core out of a pile of fist-sized chunks ("pebbles", hence "pebble bed" reactor) of some glass-like material containing enough thorium. You put some shafts into the ground under the pebble bed and sit the pebbles on a plate made of material that melts before the pebbles do. The shafts slope down and outward at ~45 degrees. If the core for whatever reason gets too hot, the plate melts and the pebbles fall down into the shafts. Each shaft ends up holding a subcritical mass of pebbles, so they just start cooling off and then you bury the whole mess. So a "disaster" is expensive, but not very dangerous, hence the term "walkaway safe" for the design. We could have done this in the 80s. The problems are all political. NIMBY rules. When investors catch on and stop buying up semi-infinite amounts of U.S bonds, we're going to get what we've earned with our cowardice and unwillingness to innovate.

Whoosh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064708)

That was the sound of the Chinese Nuclear Power Industry, passing the US Nuclear Power Industry. "But cha can't build bombs from it!!! they cry out". No sparky, and the half-lives are real short (27 days for the one reaction product, 22 minutes for the other). For you kids wondering about the math, If you keep the long half-life stuff around for 5 years, you have 4.35x10^-21 as much radioactive product as you had to begin with. Not saying its inert, just not really radioactive anymore. If they can put 20,000 reactors into production in 5 years, their greenhouse gas problem will be gone in 5 years. In the US, Republicans and Democrats will have been bickering for another 5 years, nothing will have been accomplished, the price of oil will be well over $150 per barrel, Exxon will have well over 90% of the GOP openly on staff, and 100 million Americans will be unemployed. This business of allowing greedy corporations to dictate all of American life hasn't led to greater prosperity. I don't see a lot of prosperous Americans. I see a lot of people barely getting by watching hi-tech jobs go to India, and since they can't afford anything else, they buy cheap stuff from either WalMart or Target (all made in China).

We'll Purchase it From China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064852)

If they develop the technology, we can purchase the reactors from China. Sounds good. :)

Reverse China Syndrome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35064912)

...in case of an accident, will the molten Salt burn through the center of the earth and come out over here? ;)

Um.... (4, Interesting)

crhylove (205956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35064970)

I see a lot of comments stating something negative about environmentalists because we don't have molten salt reactor technology in development. This has not been the fault of environmentalists at all. This is almost purely the fault of the money making machine that is the military industrial complex, wanting to sell the technology they spent so much precious time developing, despite the factor a superior technology was readily available.

We could have electric cars too, but the patents on many batteries are owned by petroleum industry corporations.

I never saw an environmentalist with a shirt that said, "Down with molten salt reactors!!!" I'm sure given the choice and scientific evidence, most environmentalists would much more readily opt for that rather than the currently in use nuclear power paradigm.

Only a few reactionary environmentalists are anti technology. The vast majority of modern environmentalists just want less chemical waste and incidents of cancer. And to save the polar bears, though it's their own hides they should really be defending.

In addition. (1)

crhylove (205956) | more than 2 years ago | (#35064988)

I think liberals and conservatives of every stripe would rather spend money on stuff like this than on another war in the middle east for oil. Very few people alive right now see that as anything more than a silly, inevitably futile agenda as the oil WILL run out at some point regardless of who's standing at the nozzle.

fluoride and thorium G! (1)

HongPong (226840) | more than 2 years ago | (#35064990)

Gentlemen, the Russian Ambassador has told us the Communists have the Thorium G Bomb -- and it's powered with **fluoride** yet another communist conspiracy!

Seriously, Dr Strangelove was right. And the melamine for our precious

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