Both the LFTR and the French TMSR concepts draw heavily on ORNL MSR reactor research from 1947 and 1980. However, French researcher take as their starting point ORNL research on a 1 fluid 1 GWe, MSBR that was conducted from 1967 onward. Thus the French focus is on the design of a large MSR with optimal breeding characteristics. The French focus remains on large molten salt thorium breeding reactors, but unlike ORNL reactors they are interested in the design of graphite free MSRs. Thus French researchers have rejected the one fluid, graphite moderated approach favored by the ORNL MSBR.
There are a number of distinct ideas a bout the LFTR that appear to be entirely absent from French thinking about the TMSR. For example the LFTR is conceived of as a relatively small, portable, factory manufactured, modular thorium fuel cycle Molten Salt Reactor. The LFTR concept focuses on cost lower measures including labor saving in reactor manufacture. The LFTR concept includes a number of none traditional concepts about reactor siting, including underwater siting, underground siting, and the recycling of fossil fuel power plant sites as LFTR.
David Walters describes some of the potential cost saving available if power plant sites are recycled as new LFTR sites.
The BIG savings, IMHO, is not necessarily on the ability to using the existing turbine/generator set. It's on all the other BOP (Balance of Plant). What are we talking about?
1. siting. already done, obviously.
2. grid access...with almost NO changes especially if generator at the end of the LFTR is the same size or near it as the old stoker it's replacing. A little more if we want to upgrade the MWs.
3. licenses for everything: accumulation of standard hazardous waste, water usage, fire fighting equipment, water discharges, maybe cooling towers, air cooled condensers, once through cooling. The list is endless and it's all a *savings*.
4. plant access by road, rail and water. All these are nicely built in because of the need to transport coal and having built the plant in the first place.
5. lay down yard. As the coal is reduced by burning, more and more of the dozens of acres of land used by coal storage areas is freed up. Tons and tons of space.
6. Physical equipment: water lines to and around the plant, bus rooms and switching centers for plant auxiliaries, main and aux. banks *in place and ready to use*.
Probably the savings list is endless.
This is typical LFTR thinking, which focuses not just on optimal reactor design in the abstract, but in cost savings and carbon replacement, As David Walters noted:
The BIGGEST advantage we have for a LFTR-in-Coal-out scenario is just that. We when we go COD on the LFTR, the breaker opens for the last time on the stoker, and we closed out a coal plant. Let wind and solar advocates try to make THAT claim!A second major keynote to the LFTR is its modularity. Contributer Axil notes:
In systems engineering, modular design, or "modularity in design" is an approach that subdivides a system into smaller parts (modules) that can be independently created and then used in different systems to drive multiple functionalities. Besides reduction in cost (due to lesser customization, and less learning time), and flexibility in design, modularity offers other benefits such as augmentation (adding new solution by merely plugging in a new module), and exclusion.Some Energy from Thorium contributers are more influenced by French thinking on the TMSR. David LeBlanc suggests
Modular design is much more difficult to design and implement then a custom build approach since it requires the systems engineer to examine the full range of possibilities of a product line and define modules and appropriate interfaces between these modules.
A key feature of a system is that it is modular, flexible and adaptable. In general, it is commonly recognized in systems engineering that the broader the range of adaptability that a system is, the more successful and cost effective that the system will eventually be. These characteristics of the system ensure that the system is responsive to the needs of its broad user base over time. A good system must meet or exceed the expectations of a large and diverse range of users.
For example, a computer is divided up into a mother board, disks, CPU, internet interface, etc. A computer that does not provide this level of modularity will be unsuccessful in the market place since it does not offer the possibility for upgrade.
IMHO, it would be a good thing if the Lftr were modular.
What will make the Lftr modular, and how is that modularity achieved? It would be valuable to develop a consensus that modularity of design is an important design objective and that it is worth the effort to make the design modular.
A graphite free core design does not necessarily need a much larger fissile inventory to start up IF you have a nice fully encompassing fertile blanket around the core to catch leakage neutrons.Alex P., quoting ORNL 4812 disagreed with him:
In reactors without graphite, the neutrons can travel quite a long way before they finally are absorbed (or lost to leakage). Thus in designs without a blanket or only a partial one (as is the French TMSR design) you need a lot of fissile material to make sure those neutrons are absorbed and/or cause fissions quickly. If you have a full fertile blanket as is the case in some other designs then you can actually get by with a much lower fissile starting load and still manage to break even on breeding.
So no graphite equaling much more fissile is not always the case (granted it usually is).
Also I would add that the positive temp reactivity problem with using graphite is not a problem for 2 fluid designs (as most know) AND it is also not a problem for Single fluid designs with U238 added to denature (which most don't know).
contrary to my previous belief, breeding gain in the epithermal spectrum is INFERIOR than in the thermal one.
Quite the opposite I believed it happened.
"In the early days of the Molten-Salt Reactor Program, serious consideration was given to homogeneous reactors in which the core contained nothing but salt. These ideas were abandoned after calculations showed that the limited moderation by likely fluoride salt constituents alone would result in a thermal reactor with inferior breeding performance. Breeding appeared possible in intermediate-spectrum reactors, but their gains were not high enough to compensate for their higher fissile inventories".
We thus have not settled yet if the core of the LFTR will contain graphite, but several of us are inclined to that view. Kirk recently posted Several sections of ORNL 4528 and related sections of