Sunday, May 17, 2009

Scaling the LFTR: Large Scale Production and Costs

It seems clear that the LFTR cam be highly scalable. The potential exists to manufacture hundreds and even thousand's of LFRTs a year on factory assembly lines. The LFTR would be smaller and less complex than an Airbus 380. The finished LFTR meed not be completed at the assembly factor. Rather the LFTR can be built in several large modules, that can be rapidly assembled like loges at the generation site. The LFTR could be ships as perhaps a half dozen sub modules, plus an assembly kit, with what ever parts are needed to connect the sub modules to each other. On site assembly can be added by labor saving machines and need not require a prolonged amount of time to accomplish. Thus the entire LFTR manufacturing process need not require more than a few months from the beginning of parts manufacture, to the spinning up of the turbines to begin power delivery.

Factory capacity would be determined by demand ands LFTR. Graphite free cores capable of servicing a LFTR system with 400 MWe, may be easily transportable, given David LeBlanc's ingenious graphite free design. David assures me that it is possible to build graphite free LFTRs that require relatively small start up charges. If so factory manufacture of 400 MWe LFTRs would be quite plausible. The electrification of the American economy plus provision for supplying all required industrial process heat could probably be supplied by fxtory manufacture of three hundred 400 MWe LFTRs every year. This would be a large, but by no means impossible undertaking. Alternatively were we to prefer smaller graphite LFTRs, we could do the same job with twelve hundred 100 MWe units. Again the size of the job would by no means prove impossible.

The manufacture of 120 Billion Watts of LFTR a year is a large but manageable industrial task.. An Airbus 380, a very large and complex 21st century industrial object, costs something over $300 million dollars, and LFTR manufacture would be, if anything, simpler and lest costly thatnA380 manufacture. The LFTR does not require the same sort of heavy forged steel parts required by the LWR. Through factory manufacture, LFTR quality control management would be greatly simplified with improved outcomes. Thus while it would be expensive to manufacture 120 A380's a year, it would be by no means impossible. Indeed Airbus executives would be excited by the challenge. of manufacturing several hundred A 380's a year.

Given that LFTR manufacture would be no more complex than Airbus 380 manufacture, we could assume that products might well have similar costs, so let us assume a set of LFTR sub moduels, plus a set up kits cost #300 million going out the factory door. Assume that
each 400 MWe LFTR will require $200 million of site related costs. That will give us a total cost of $1.25 billion per GWe generating capacity over night costs. With interest this might come to $2 nillion, but this cost has to be balanced against LFTR related savings. For every ! billion GW years of electricity produced the LFTR will save at least $250 million in coal prices. Thus the savings on fuel costs will more than pay both principle and interest on the capital cost of the LFTR and would return to the investor a handsome profit. The debt on the LFTR would be repaid in less than 10 years, after which the huge profit from LFTR operations should be shared by owners and rate payers.

Replacement of natural gas fired generating facilities would also produce a rapid repayment schedule, and immediate profit for the investors combined with the potential of lowering ratepayers cost. Thus far from giving us a world of expensive electricity, and electrical shortages created by an idiotic negawatts approach, the LFTR promised abundant low cost electricity, and the replacement of 80% or more of current energy delivered by fossil fuels, while lowering energy costs even after capital costs and interests are paid.

No wonder the oil companies and the coal barons are desperately hoping that Energy Secretary Chu will continue to follow the Energy Department line on the LFTR. No wonder Chu tells Congress that there is a terrible cracking problem with the LFTR, a problem that ORNL scientists solved in the 1970's. The advent of the mass produced LFTR would put paid to the fossil industry in the United States. The LFTR is extremely scalable, and can be produced in massive numbers at a low enough cost and to almost completely replace fossil fuels by 2050, and there are a whole lot of powerful folks that don't want you to know that.


Jason Ribeiro said...

Can you elaborate upon Sec. Chu's comment about "cracking"? Did he say this under oath, in a written statement or other? I'm also wondering if there's any other documentation about this just to bring the solution more to the surface.

Charles Barton said...

Jason see my post: "Secretary Chu's answer and the facts" I think it speaks for itself. i gather this was testimony before congress. There are detailed discussions describing research on the problem in ORNL literature. One AEC/DOE documnt WASH-1222 discusses it, and this appears to be Chu's only source, Unfortunately for Chu WASH01222 was not the last word on the problem and by 1976, ORNL had identified the source of thew problem and found two solutions to it. Despite the ORNL findings, the Myth circulated in the DoE that this was a terrible and unsolvable problem Chu has bouht into the story hook, line and sinker, without determining the facts for himself.

Alex P. said...

What's the fissile start-up per GWe for the graphite free LFTR version (like LeBlanc's version,two fluids core with a fully encompassing blanket)?

Charles Barton said...

Alex, You will have to ask David. Answering that sort of question is way over my head.

alex P. said...

In a paper he claimed that for a graphite core we can go down until less than 300 kg of fissile per GWe, but I missed the exact figure for the moderator free version

Robw said...


Another excellent post, thanks.

So is it your opinion that Chu knows the answer and doesn't want to step on any toes? If true, how dissapointing...I had high hopes for him. Doesn't bode well for our cause.


Charles Barton said...

Chu is very political. He knows which side his bread is buttered on. Chu is a very intelligent man, and he knows how to ask follow up questions, if he thinks he is being sold a bill of goods. Chu'sa answer was superficial. For whar ever reason he dud nor wish to look below the surface.

Anonymous said...


May 18, 2009

New Tricks From the Old Energy Lobby
They Want It All

"The well-known physicist, environmentalist Amory Lovins argues against nuclear energy just on economic grounds. He says he doesn't even have to get to the safety issues to recommend rejection. I know no one of prominence of on the other side willing to debate him. If you do, let me know."

Does this get your blood up?


Charles Barton said...

Axil, Lovins is the one who does not want to debate. Lovins does not want to be exposed. Nader knows how to blow hard.

Jason Ribeiro said...

Charles, thank you for filling in some details.

I find it amusing that a prominent scientist like Chu suggests that problems such as carbon sequestration require research and then in the another sentence describe a problem with a reactor as if it was the last word on the matter and that alone makes the idea worth abandonment. There is an outright duplicity here concerning what holds promise and is worthy of R&D dollars.


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