On July 7, 2010 Professor Kazuo Furukawa, the head of the NPO "International Thorium and Molten-Salt Forum" has announced that a new company which aims to produce a commercially viable thorium nuclear power generation was established. The goal is to make a thorium nuclear power generator capable of producing 10,000 kilowatts and 20,000 kilowatts of electricity for the next five to ten years, respectively.IThEMS tells us,
The company which was established in June is called, "International Thorium Energy & Molten-Salt Technology Inc. (IThEMS)." Its office is in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (tel. no. +81-3-3239-2595) with a capitalization of 2 million Japanese yen*. Its president is Mr. Keishiro Fukushima. A total of 300 million US dollars of capital coming from domestic and international companies and investors will be procured in order to produce a small-scale electric generator producing 10,000 kilowatts of electricity within five years.
This generation technology utilizes and involves fluoridized molten-salt to dissolve fluoridized thorium and other materials as liquid fuel. Uranium is not used, thus it is regarded as a safer alternative. Professor Furukawa serves as Chairman and Director of Laboratory of the new company.
Particular attention to Th-MSR is getting increased due to the fact that Th-MSR has no plutonium production, much less high-level nuclear waste and function of burning plutonium for its elimination.Professor Furukawa believes that the Fuji Reactor can produced electricity at the price of 10 yen/kWh. Dr. Fukushima's cost estimate would make the cost of the Fuji competitive with conventional reactors. But the Fuji is a thorium breeder, and breeder technology is usually considered more expensive than conventional nuclear power plants. There is little doubt that the Fuji can be built. It takes advantage of of ORNL's work on the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, as well as ORNL's Molten Salt Breeder Reactor R&D work. If there is a flaw in the Fuji concept, it is that the Fuji reactor adheres too closely to ideas ORNL developed 40 years ago, and does not pay sufficient condition to the demands of a potential global market.
Such idealistic new power generation system of Th-MSR begins to draw attention from various countries in the world, in view of the nuclear proliferation and terrorism resistance, and safe and stable supply of low cost clean energy which the world significantly demands.
What the world wants is a quickly built, low cost reactor. Quick construction requires the use of extensive factory as opposed to field labor. Low cost also points to a factory manufacturing setting. Factory construction would mean transportation to the customer. There are three transportation options for factory produced reactors: By truck, by rail and by barge. International and costal water shipping can also be accomplished by commercial cargo ships. Land transportation points to relatively small reactor size. The overland transportation of large reactor components such as steam generares can be monumental engineering chores.
Rapid field construction is also facilitated by reducing the number of parts required to be assembled. All of these factors tend to push designers of factory produced reactors toward a relatively small. light weight reactors. Fuji designs appear to call for a fairly large and complex plants for its electrical output, suggesting that it has not fully evolved toward the factory produced reactor model yet.
The Fuji design could certainly be factory produced. But many aspects of the Fuji design could be reconceptualized to lower costs. For example, the reactor and its attached processing units could be moved under ground. The rest of the facility can be based on a recycled fossil fuel powered generation facility. Other aspects of the design could be simplified and streamlined into a small number of factory producible units. In addition IThEMS has a 8.6 MWe mini or nuclear battery design.
IThEMS has a long term plan that involves a three step approach to development. In the first step, a small MSR prototype will be developed.
The prototype embodies Furukawa's life time of research on MSR design. The Fuji concept calls for what could be described as a single fluid design but with added complexity. It has a long history of gentation, and will probably be the first of several attempts to translate the Molten Salt Reactor into a viable post carbon energy option. Professor Furukawa ambitions are nothing if not grandios. He envisions the Thorium breeding Molten Salt Reactor (the LFTR) to grow into
an industry as large as 10 trillion US Dollars (1,000 trillion Japanese yen) [by] 2060.