Sunday, January 30, 2011

China starts LFTR Development Project

China has become the first nation to begin a LFTR development project.
Five days ago, China just started the TMSR project in the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) annual report conference, which indicates that China has joined the international MSR club officially. Chinese TMSR project is one of the first four launched projects in 2011, as can be called the "Strategic and Leading Project of Science and Technology". Its ultimate target is to investigate and develop a whole new nuclear system ( thorium based molten salt nuclear system) in about 20 years. The website link of related reports are as follow.
http://www.cas.cn/xw/zyxw/ttxw/201101/t ... 7050.shtml
http://whb.news365.com.cn/yw/201101/t20 ... 944856.htm

The LFTR (TMSR) was first developed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers between 1950 and 1975, and has been discussed in detail on Energy from Thorium and Nuclear Green. During the last decade by The Reactor Physics Group of the University of Grenoble has renewed TMSR research. This step is highly rational for the Chinese to take. China appears to have a large thorium reserve, much of it now in the form of rare earth mining tailings. LFTRs as so efficient that they could supply China with all the energy it needs for a period of time that could streach out for millions of years. LFTRs can be factory built and rapidly deployed in Very large numbers. A large scale LFTR program would enable China to replaced fossil fuel energy sources with nuclear power by 2050, if LFTR development had a 20 year gestation period.

Kirk Sorenson at Energy From Thorium has a deperate story on the Chinese TMSR plan.

13 comments:

horos11 said...

charles,

you know, I read this, and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

After all, this site and others have been sounding the clarion call to action on this, and I should be glad that someone finally heeded it and its getting traction in a place that really matters, but I have a sinking feeling that:

a. its going to take far less than their planned 20 years

b. they are going to succeed beyond their wildest expectations.

Which means that the next, giant sucking sound we may hear is the sound of the 5 trillion dollar energy market heading east, further depressing our economy, weakening the dollar (and the euro) and ultimately making the US economy dependent on rescue from the chinese in the future (when they are done rescuing themselves).

Yet, in the large scheme of things, this is a definite good, and may be our savior from anthropomorphic climate change.

so again, laugh? or cry. I guess its up to how you view things - I guess I'm tentatively laughing at the moment, but mostly from the overwhelming irony of all this.

Ed

Anonymous said...

Technically the patent for LFTR has expired in America, we could build our own reactors here without too many IP problems.

Jason Ribeiro said...

I can't help but have a feeling of sour grapes about this. While I congratulate China for doing the obvious, America has its head buried so far in the sand it can't see straight. With all the internet clamor about LFTR that's been going on the internet in the past 3-4 years, it was the non-English speaking Chinese that finally got the message that this was a great idea worth investing in. Our leadership ought to be ashamed of themselves.

horos11 said...

Anonymous,

That's actually a problem (no patent protection). I can easily see boards across america saying 'why invest in the infrastructure needed for this (new fuel cycle, headaches with the NRC) when someone else can simply leverage our work once we've gotten through them?

That's always been a problem with our system btw. Great idea, 10-20 year time frame for implementation - no way. No hope of recouping investment, no short-term bump to profits, no bonuses for execs.

Ed

Charles Barton said...

horos11 there is patten protection for patentable developments. But
ornl could not patten a lot of the stuff they did, and at any rate most of their work was over 40 years ago, so the pattens will run out.

Anonymous said...

That It's taken ~40 yrs for some one to decide to commercialize LFTR technology seems remarkable to me. But finally! Perhaps, hopefully, this will spur other nations to action.

Anonymous said...

The chinese doesn't care how long it takes. They need a stable source of energy for their long term growth. No lobby or company exec would dare and try to bully the communist party on their home turf.

Anonymous said...

You know this whole LFTR concept, and China's involvement, has been an eye opener for me. I'm a retired "nuke" with 27 years in the American Nuclear Industry and the only time I had ever heard of a Thorium reactor was in an old Tom Swift Jr. novel from the early 60's. During my training as a Licensed Operator I never was even exposed to the concept of a power reactor using Thorium.

This is consistent with the basic premises of nuclear power in America. From what I have seen, commercial nuclear plants are run more as "retirement jobs" for ex-navy personnel then anything else. Consequently anything that would reduce the value of their training and experience is automatically rejected by the industry.

Anonymous said...

America happily blowing the budget on millitary technology past 70 years.LFTR would be used nowadays for civilian energy production, but existen tehnologies grown on concept of providing whole a lot more plutonium than LFTR to build bombs

Anonymous said...

This article highlights all that is shameful depressing about you once innovative Yanks.
America used to be a beacon in the world, but now it is a sadly dimming light.
Corporate military industrial greed, political corruption, mind numbingly stifling regulations and pandering to "green issues" is killing your country.
And nobody seems to care...........

Eris said...

Well this comment is for a thread that's gone cold for a while, but I'll take a shot.

I expect the main reason that there's no interest in LFTR in the US is that a great percentage of the value of the US federal debt note (dollar) is based on the artificially high demand outside the US. This is created by the fact that the overwheming majority of oil cintracts are conducted in US dollars. In other words the world's major oil bourses (markets) in every country must use dollars. This is part if what (if I remember) is called the carry trade.

A huge drop in dollar demand will just kill what little is left of the value of the dollar. That's the issue. While Russia and China have agreed to trade oil with each other in non-dollars, the last middle east country to try that was Iraq just before the US invaded. Draw your own conclusions.

The great thing about China doing this is that it forces the hand of other major players. If they don't follow suite, they end up buying reactors and thorium in yen. If there was a Thorium commodities market, I'd buy a bunch before the Chinese snap it up.

Eris

EL said...

Head of program recently had to resign from post at Chinese Academy of Sciences because of massive bribery and embezzlement scandal.

http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20120327000003&cid=1601

Any news on how this impacts research program?

Anonymous said...

You can't believe in those rumors. Since Jiang is the son of former President of China, there are many anti-CCP NGO's aboard hate him. (They hate anything related to CCP, and actually make a living for making rumors.)

Officially, Jiang was retired from CAS for health problems. He was 60, had liver problem for long time.

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