More intelligent criticism is likely to come from nuclear supporters than nuclear critics. But these unfriendly pro-nuclear but anti-LFTR critics may not be so well informed. For examplethe 'New Scientist' has just posted a generally positive article on thorium and the LFTR. In the middle of the article a negative view is reported,
Pavel Tsvetkov, a nuclear engineer at Texas A&M University in College Station, points out that many of the claimed safety advantages of LFTRs must still be proved in more detailed studies. "Safety research is yet to be done," he says.It would be nice to know more about Tsvetkov views. We know from ORNL research documents that a good deal of MSR safety research that would directly apply to the LFTR was done. What are Tsvetkov views on that research? When I Googled Pavel Tsvetkov's name, I found that he teaches nuclear engineering at Texas A&M,but no links to his views onMSR/LFTR safety. What does he view as the significant gaps in MSR/LFTR safety research?Tsvetkov would, for example, be accorded an opportunity to lay out his views on the Energy from Thorium discussion pages, but he has not done so. And as far as I can tell, he has not written a paper on MSR safety issues. Well thought out criticism can be painful, but it can also be helpful.
If Tsvetkov wishes to set out his views in an informal setting, he is welcome to post them on Nuclear Green. But as matters currently stand Tsvetkov has not told us anything helpful.
We do need nuclear safety. but we also need to find answers, because we face a crisis that threatens our existence as a civilization. We need a new source if energy to keep our civilization going.
In 1942 my uncle Robert Barton as a book keeper for a coal mine in the Cumberland Mountains of Western Anderson County, Tennessee. He lived in the small Cumberland Mountain town of Fork Mountain. Periodically mu uncles job required him to drive to Knoxville on Tennessee highway 116 to Tennessee Highway 62 and then passed through a gap in Waldens Ridge at Oliver Springs then drove past the small Anderson County communities of Robertsville and Scarboro, and eventually to the Solway Bridge and on into Knox County. The scenery on he journey is beautiful, and the mountain and ridge roads winging. One day probably in October, 1942, Uncle Robert finished his business in Knoxville, and headed back home, but he found Solway Bridge blocked by an Army Roadblock. Guards at the road block told him to find an alternative road home. My uncle did not drive on highway 62 between Oliver Springs and Solwayagain until 1949, and by that time he lived in a different world. Robertsville and Scarboro had disappeared along with the communities of Wheat,Bethal, Edgemoor and Elza. The vision of local Prophet John Hendrix had amazingly come to pass.At the beginning of the 20th century Hendrix had told his fmily and friends,
“Bear Creek Valley some day will be filled with great buildings and factories and they will help toward winning the greatest war that will ever be.”In 1949 the new City of Oak Ridge emerged from behind its gates, and with it the world of atomic energy. In 1942 my uncle had witnessed the end of world of business as usual. I witnessed its return in 1949 with the opening of the Oak Ridge gates.
“There will be a city on Black Oak Ridge and the center of authority will be on a spot middle-way between Sevier Tadlock’s farm and Joe Pyatt’s Place.”
“A railroad spur will branch off the main L&N line, run down toward Robertsvilleand then branch off and turn toward Scarbrough.”
“Big engines will dig big ditches and thousands of people will be running to and fro. They will be building things and there will be great noise and confusion and the earth will shake.”
A few days more than a year after my uncle encountered an Army road block as Solway Bridge, an amazing thing happened, the second nuclear reactor built in all human history was turned on in Bethel Valley. The reactor called X-10 or the graphite pile was one of the earliest accomplishments of the Manhattan project. Far larger projects emerged in Bear Creek Vally where tens of thousands of workers toiled to build a great factory and at the former site of Wheat, where tens of thousands more workers toiled to build a second great factory. These two factories, the products of so much human toil were eventually to produce enough of a substance called Uranium-235 to build weapon to be dropped on a city called Hiroshima in Japan.
One of those huge factories was called K-25. It was built in a huge U shaped building a half mile long that was built in less than two years at a cost of over $6 billion 2011 dollars. When K-25 construction began, the engineers and scientists who were designing its production process were far from sure how its production process would work. The desperation of an all out war and the fear that the enemy would uncover the secret of the process first, motivated national leaders to throw caution to the wind, and to take risks that the best scientists in the world come up with the answers. They did.
A society like individuals can under go existential crises. When a society undergoes an existential crisis, business as usual may no longer seem important, and the pace of change may greatly speed up. Tasks which might require a generation at a business as usual pace, may require a year or two. My uncle's world changed in 1942 because a society and its leadership believed that the nations existence was threatened, and that the nation must take action to insure its survive. It will happen again.
I believe that one day our society will get most of its power from the LFTR. Visions will come to pass, as they have in the past. New technologies will emerge, seemingly overnight. There will be a period of great confusion and a period of excitement, and then business as usual will return.