Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

“NuclearHistory” exposes the unpleasant facts about liquid fluoride thorium nuclear reactors

Some people believe that liquid fluoride thorium reactors, which would use a high temperature liquid fuel made of molten salt, would be significantly safer than current generation reactors. However, such reactors have major flaws. There are serious safety issues associated with the retention of fission products in the fuel, and it is not clear these problems can be effectively resolved. Such reactors also present proliferation and nuclear terrorism risks because they involve the continuous separation, or “reprocessing,” of the fuel to remove fission products and to efficiently produce U-233, which is a nuclear weapon-usable material. Moreover, disposal of theused fuel has turned out to be a major challenge. Stabilization and disposal of the
remains of the very small “Molten Salt Reactor Experiment” that operated at Oak
Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s has turned into the most technically challenging cleanup problem that Oak Ridge has faced, and the site has still not been cleaned up. Last updated March 14, 2019″ Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, at https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/nuclear_power/thorium-reactors-statement.pdf I wonder who is correct, The Union of Scientists or Mr. O’Brien and ScoMo?

The Industry Push to Force Nuclear Power in Australia, Part 1 of A Study of the “Report of the inquiry into the prerequisites for nuclear energy in Australia” Australian Parliamentary Committee 2020.by nuclearhistory, February 29, 2020, “………Nuclear power enables the great powers to project power. It is a crucial geo-political influencer. If the committee has it’s way, we will be working with Russia and China and others on reactors they want to develop, that their own people have not had a say in, that are all based upon reactor designs first thought of in the 1950s, and where actual examples were built at that time, turned out to be unsafe failures which continue to present cost and risk at their sites to this day.

The committee’s first recommendation to government includes the following two sub parts:

“b. developing Australia’s own national sovereign capability in nuclear energy over time; and

c. procuring next-of-a-kind nuclear reactors only, not first-of-a- kind.” end quote.

If Australia becomes a nuclear powered nation, it will become subject to the directives of the IAEA in regard to the standards of those nuclear reactors and the procedures and actions which must take place in regard to them. Australia will also become subject to IAEA directives in regard to the standards and specifications of the Australian national energy grid. Further, the ICRP and other bodies will have an enhanced ability to direct and advise Australia and its people. Further international non proliferation requirements will dictate Australian actions regarding “special nuclear substances.” These requirements including control of information – security provisions – regarding the use of and production of “special nuclear substances”. As is true all over the world, nuclear industries are alone in that they do not, indeed cannot, fully disclose operational matters to share holders. This hardly renders Australia and Australians in control of its own sovereign nuclear technology.
Collaborator nations can be expected to demand certain requirements from Australia in return for their help. In the case of China, which wishes to produce small, light reactors of new types partially to provide a means by which it can quickly transform its navy into a nuclear one, in particular, there may well be special requirements placed upon Australia in return for Chinese collaboration. Who knows what Putin will demand in return for Russian collaboration . America might want many things in return. And so on. No nation which might help Australia would want Australia to benefit to the point where we might gain too much control and power over nuclear facilities located in this country.

“procuring next-of-a-kind nuclear reactors only, not first-of-a- kind” How refreshing that the Committee does not want the first gen iv type reactors – the Fermi 1 and Monju type for example. Those dangerous failures that sit like wounded Albatross in the US and Japan and continue to demand taxpayer funds. The failure of Monju, which has long been foreseen by many, renders the original basis for the Japanese nuclear industry subject to severe doubt. As result of vastly improved safety standards, fuel reprocessing in Japan is in doubt, its future course uncertain, and the nature of high level waste management has been an even more pressing issue.

In any event, it is my view that  the new  types of reactor China is experimenting with are dual use.  That is, they have both military and civilian uses in China. There is little overt opposition to either in China as protest in that nation is dangerous, costly and often lethal. I do not see it in Australia’s national interest to collaborate with Chinese nuclear reactor experimental development. Our contribution will probably speed the ascendancy of a Chinese nuclear navy, and the contribution to be made to Australia by a Chinese/Australian Gen IV is highly suspect, both in the short and long term, both in tactical and strategic terms. And if we are not to buy “first of a kind” reactors but “next of a kind” ones, does this mean we wont buy unproven experimental units but will buy unproven Mk1 production units which have not yet been used to supply power to a grid and which have proven that they fulfil the promises this Parliamentary Committee is making? No such reactors exist with a track record in service providing economic power to any nation grid. None have existed in such deployment and there is no service life span in commercial use for any of these “new” reactor types. 10 years would be the bare minimum to test such a unit over. Anything less is not satisfactory
Alvin M. Weinberg was the Nikola Tesla of Gen IV reactor design. “Weinberg replaced Wigner as Director of Research at ORNL in 1948, and became director of the laboratory in 1955. Under his direction it worked on the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, and pioneered many innovative reactor designs, including the pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and boiling water reactors (BWRs), which have since become the dominant reactor types in commercial nuclear power plants, and Aqueous Homogeneous Reactor designs.” (Source: Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvin_M._Weinberg) “ORNL successfully built and operated a prototype of an aircraft reactor power plant by creating the world’s first molten salt fueled and cooled reactor called the Aircraft Reactor Experiment (ARE) in 1954, which set a record high temperature of operation of 1,600 °F (870 °C). Due to the radiation hazard posed to aircrew, and people on the ground in the event of a crash, new developments in ballistic missile technology, aerial refueling and longer range jet bombers, President Kennedy canceled the program in June 1961.[30][31]” Source: ibid.
There’s not much that is new under the sun, says the Bible, and that’s probably very generally true. If we get the vision of a flying nuclear reactor out of heads for a minute, it seems as first glance that the Weinberg molten fuel reactor had something going for it. If it didn’t leak, it couldn’t do what a “normal” is capable of doing – over heating zirconium fuel rods, and melting steel to enable the overheated fuel to escape into the biosphere. So how does the molten fuel reactor work? How come it can work without melting its containment? Well, Wikipedia explains it like this: “The Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) set a record for continuous operation and was the first to use uranium-233 as fuel. It also used plutonium-239 and the standard, naturally occurring uranium-235. The MSR was known as the “chemist’s reactor” because it was proposed mainly by chemists (ORNL’s Ray Briant and Ed Bettis (an engineer) and NEPA’s Vince Calkins),[34] and because it used a chemical solution of melted salts containing the actinides (uranium, thorium, and/or plutonium) in a carrier salt, most often composed of beryllium (BeF2) and lithium (LiF) (isotopically depleted in Lithium-6 to prevent excessive neutron capture or tritium production) – FLiBe.[36] The MSR also afforded the opportunity to change the chemistry of the molten salt while the reactor was operating to remove fission products and add new fuel or change the fuel, all of which is called “online processing”.[37]” Source: ibid. As we can see, though the piece does not explain the materials used to construct the reactor – which must have been very tolerant of very high temperatures – the piece is clear that this reactor did produce high level nuclear waste. The fission products. These substances comprise high level nuclear waste. While this reactor type might consume weapons plutonium and fission it into high level waste, the reactor as described does NOT solve the high level waste problem. In an era in which the major nuclear powers have torn up nuclear weapon limitation treaties, it is moot as to whether either the USA or Russia would contemplate feeding their stockpiled bomb fuel into an MSR. The MSR does not solve the fission product waste inventory which is growing on planet earth. The wikipedia article does not describe whether or not the MSR reactor releases radioactive gases to the atmosphere as conventional reactor do at refuelling time.
There is no doubt that Wigner was a brilliant person. Many people view him as a visionary with a singular focus on reactor safety and on new ways of doing things in the 1950s and 1960s. Wikipedia also states the following: “In the 1960s Weinberg also pursued new missions for ORNL, such as using nuclear energy to desalinate seawater. ” Source Ibid. So know you know where the accountant and former politician Cory Bernardi got his idea about desalination via any old reactor from. Genius research Cory. Solar panels can make hydrogen and oxygen and turn sea water into fresh too. It can recharge electric cars, power a macbook and power the natural world. Fancy that. Apparently some people prefer molten salt reactors, proclaimed as new, when actually they date from the 1950s. Wow. I wonder why they didn’t take off. Excuse the pun.
Before I complete this post, let’s delve a little deeper into the MSR, by consulting some actual technical papers. Do try and keep up, Mr. Bernardi and Mr. O’Brien.

A technical report on the original trial run of the reactor is here (we won’t be getting this one, it’s first of type): https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.13182/NT8-2-118 “Experience with the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment.” Paul N. Haubenreich and J.R.Engel, 1970.

What the fate of the material removed from the fuel ? That is, where is the nuclear waste now and how much has it cost to mind? The Union of Concerned Scientists inform us that: “

Some people believe that liquid fluoride thorium reactors, which would use a high temperature liquid fuel made of molten salt, would be significantly safer than current generation reactors. However, such reactors have major flaws. There are serious safety issues associated with the retention of fission products in the fuel, and it is not clear these problems can be effectively resolved. Such reactors also present proliferation and nuclear terrorism risks because they involve the continuous separation, or “reprocessing,” of the fuel to remove fission products and to efficiently produce U-233, which is a nuclear weapon-usable material. Moreover, disposal of theused fuel has turned out to be a major challenge. Stabilization and disposal of the
remains of the very small “Molten Salt Reactor Experiment” that operated at Oak
Ridge National Laboratory in the 1960s has turned into the most technically challenging cleanup problem that Oak Ridge has faced, and the site has still not been cleaned up. Last updated March 14, 2019″ Source: Union of Concerned Scientists, at https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/nuclear_power/thorium-reactors-statement.pdf I wonder who is correct, The Union of Scientists or Mr. O’Brien and ScoMo?

The end.

If the nuclear waste problem did not exist, those front and back yards would not now be resident in drums at Woomera Rocket Range. If waste did not have to take up residence somewhere, waste would not be a problem. Because there would not be any to store. Australia does not have nuclear power. But we have plenty of ancient and modern nuclear waste. People who do not want nuclear waste or nuclear emissions are called by governments and the industry “NIMBY’s” (Not In My Backyard). I remind the Australian government here and now who have to removed contaminated back yards from Australian homes in the 1970s. It was the Australian Government. What hypocrites you all are!!! To be continued …..  https://nonuclearpowerinaustralia.wordpress.com/2020/02/29/part-1-of-a-study-of-the-report-of-the-inquiry-into-the-prerequisites-for-nuclear-energy-in-australia-australian-parliamentary-committee-2020/

March 5, 2020 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics, reference, spinbuster, technology

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