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 Post subject: TEAC2
PostPosted: Mar 31, 2010 8:47 pm 
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I've been to my share of conferences and usually, most of the talks are boring. After each talk, speakers have to smooth over awkward questions from the audience. Then you eat a mediocre catered lunch and start counting the hours until you're back at your room. You get one engaging presentation per day if you're lucky.

TEAC2 was nothing like this. Almost every talk was interesting. A wide variety of subjects and approaches were covered, all pertinent to Thorium and/or the MSR. Of course the food was great, and I had stimulating discussions during both lunches. So a big thank-you to all the speakers and organizers. Truly a remarkable event.

Kirk: I'm sorry we didn't get more of a chance to talk. My Apple stories would probably have bored you to death! Lars: sorry I didn't properly introduce myself to your family -- I was running late to get my wife at the train and forgot my manners.

I'll post in a bit with some specific comments on the presentations.

-Carl


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Mar 31, 2010 9:08 pm 
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Carl, you and me both...I was only there for a total of 1 1/2 hours due to my work schedule. It was still amazing to see ALL those Th advocates in one place!

David

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"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Mar 31, 2010 9:09 pm 
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I think Carl is right on the money with his comments on TEAC2.

This was a terrific conference and GOOGLE was a super host. I was particularly impressed with the international participation and the people that traveled many thousands of miles to attend. There was a very fine level of participation from both Japan and Canada. The Japanese contingent offered to host a future TEAC (and the response of the audience was very positive to this offer).

I would like to see the presentations made available as videos and notes before I would feel comfortable making comments on individual talks so as to avoid subjectivity and creating misimpressions. I would feel comfortable saying that everyone on the Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum will be pleased when they ultimately have a chance to view the talks - there were many fine talks that will be terrific entertaining and informative resources for anyone interested in Thorium and LFTR.

Well done all who labored to make the Conference happen and to the many presenters who shared their knowledge, expertise, and vision of a better world securely powered by Thorium nuclear energy.


Last edited by Robert Steinhaus on Mar 31, 2010 10:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Mar 31, 2010 9:26 pm 
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I also thought it was a great conference. TEAC1 was a lot of fun but we were a small group in a hotel that wouldn't know thorium from thulium. TEAC2 was a much larger group and Google made us feel like we were welcome guests in their home. I just can't say too many good things about Google. I knew that they were a class act before the conference, but they blew my expectations out of the water. Thank you, thank you, thank you Google!


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Mar 31, 2010 9:30 pm 
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Oh, I made a list of people who attended TEAC1 and TEAC2. Let me know if I forgot anyone:

Joe Bonometti
Ondrej Chvala
Bob Hargraves of Dartmout
Jim Howe of VisionCentric
Kim Johnson
Jim Kennedy of Wings Iron Ore
John Kutsch of Thorium Energy Alliance
Vince Lackoski of Thorium Energy Alliance
Dave LeBlanc of Carleton University
Bruce Patton of ORNL
Magdi Ragheb of UIUC
Kirk Sorensen of Thorium Energy Alliance
Bob Steinhaus
Randy from Google

That's a lot more people than I thought would come to both conferences!


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Mar 31, 2010 9:36 pm 
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Kirk, are you or John K. going to do a 'balance sheet' of the conference? You know, your thoughts to tie it all together, highlights,where-do-we-go-from-here, etc?

Also...please, at least 12 months before TEAC3!!

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Dr. Isaac Asimov:
"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Apr 01, 2010 5:43 am 
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Idaho Samizdat points out this great 'Google goes nuclear' spoof article. Shame they didn't know about TEAC, might have made the tale a bit more believable.
dwalters wrote:
......please, at least 12 months before TEAC3!!

There's a thorium conference being organised for October in London by IThEO. For those on the US East coast, that's actually closer than TEAC2 was!


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Apr 01, 2010 4:43 pm 
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I'll try to briefly summarize the talks that were memorable for me:

Kirk Sorensen - keynote
Proposes to use a small, central fleet of faster-spectrum liquid Chloride reactors to breed U-233, which would be used to start a big fleet of LFTRs for power generation. Once the targeted number of self-sustaining LFTRs are started (1,000 @ 1GW(e) each, I believe) the Chloride reactors are shut down.

Jim Kennedy - rare earth elements
It looks like a similar talk may have been given at TEAC1. China has a stranglehold on global production of rare earth elements. Asian demand could consume 100% of expected rare earth production as soon as 2015. Financing for domestic mining hard to get. Proposes a national rare earth refinery.

Maurice Gunderson - CME Venture Capital
Eric Ingersoll - renewables hurt baseload
These two talks together made it absolutely clear to me that SMRs are essential for the future of nuclear power. Mr Gunderson explained that private capital is very interested in the energy sector, but only projects that can be brought up and liquidated within 10 years are amenable. Big GW plants have too many stakeholders to move that fast. Importantly, Mr Gunderson extended an open invitation for anyone in the Thorium community to pitch nuclear power ideas to him and his firm (they currently back NuPower).
Eric explained (I *think* it was Eric; the schedule didn't quite go down as printed) how wind and other renewables drive down margins on baseload. Since they're not baseload, one still has to have 100% capacity in baseload, which means all renewable capacity is excess supply, which drives price down via supply & demand. This makes new baseload very hard to finance, against existing coal plants with fully depreciated capital. Here again, SMRs are a solution because of their low capital costs.

Per Peterson - PB-AHTR
Ritsuo Yoshioka - FUJI MSR
These two talks presented quasi-mature reactor designs. Per's argument is, use a fuel that can be easily qualified to get the rest of LFTR/MSR technologies going -- in particular, Braytons and molten salt. Don't let fuel qual hold you up. Their reactor has 3 classes of pebbles I believe -- Uranium-based, Thorium-based, and plain graphite. They are modeling granular flows through the reactor to see if the pebbles will stay in separate regions.
Mr Yoshioka showed a 3rd-generation (I think) FUJI MSR design, with close to unity breeding.

Robert Hargraves - Aim High
Chris Uhlik - misc. LCA
Both of these were excellent general justifications for nuclear power. In particular, Chris Uhlik gave the best 'nuclear vs. everything' presentation I've seen. He's a perfect spokesman - an outdoorsy guy, charismatic, and not afraid to run real numbers. And his brother does PV development - a First Solar installation outside Las Vegas Chris claims is 2-3% efficient!

Andrew Hutton - Jefferson Lab (Nat'l Accel. Facility)
ADNA Corporation - GEM*STAR
These two were in the ADS breakout session. I think it's safe to say that everyone in the room was blown away. Cost of neutrons in kg/J has gone down by SEVEN orders of magnitude since 1965. Thousands of accelerators using superconducting RF technology deployed worldwide.
ADNA is a company working on a molten-salt based accelerator-driven subcritical reactor. They claim to be ready to built a grid-connected 100MW demo plant in Los Alamos county. It will use a 180m linac to produce spallation neutrons. The accelerator is 25% of the plant cost. Electricity for $0.07/kWh, vs. $0.09/kWh Los Alamos county average. They have a site in mind.
The way they put it was extremely compelling: the perceived problems with fission have always stemmed from a shortage of neutrons. Well, if we can make neutrons effectively, these go away. No enrichment OR reprocessing. Burn fluorinated spent fuel, depleted uranium, Thorium, the works. Leave fission products in the reactor, just crank up the beam. They claim a net energy gain of 20-60 depending on the fuel mix.
They also showed VERY interesting work on graphite, which should interest anyone concerned about the LFTR "plumbing problem". Some links:

http://www.jlab.org/div_dept/directorat ... utton.html
http://local.ans.org/virginia/meetings/2009/bowman.html
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=ADNA+Corporation

-Carl

Edit: The above from memory, so please correct me if you spot any errors!


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Apr 01, 2010 5:35 pm 
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Wow--maybe I should have gone to the ADS breakout session!


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Apr 01, 2010 5:52 pm 
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I should clarify, they do collect gaseous fission products. Also, apparently JLab is about ready to ship accelerators that are 3X better than when ADNA made their plans, so the accelerator would only have to be 60m.


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Apr 02, 2010 11:11 am 
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Kirk Sorensen wrote:
Wow--maybe I should have gone to the ADS breakout session!


I think so.

I was pretty blown away. The biggest news of all to me is that the resulting machine is not regulated by the NRC as a nuclear reactor, so long as you can make an airtight case that it cannot go critical. You still need a radiological materials license from NRC, as well as a radiological test facility license from the state. Many of both these have been granted, apparently.

Regardless of whether the ADS concept makes sense for commercial power generation, it appears to cut through the Gordian knot posed earlier in the conference (by Per?), that you can only build what the regulators will permit, and the NRC does not have the capability of even evaluating a molten salt design right now. That knot appears to restrict development to military projects that don't rely on NRC licensing.

I would like to confirm with a relevant authority that we could build a small accelerator driven system and use it to test a scaled-down version of a molten salt reactor. Several folks at dinner pointed out that this is essentially the same thing as a materials test facility, but I think it might be a bit more than that, since it would appear to have the following advantages:
  • Reactor-like neutron fluences (maybe a bit low) without requiring a reactor license.
  • Testing of the complete system with all its component interactions.
  • Directly builds experience that could be used for a reactor license application with NRC.

Let me elaborate the last point. You might start with a really simple but absolutely airtight case that the thing can't go critical by operating at Keff = 0.7, or something suitably small so that the case is really easy to prove. After operating and testing for a year, you develop evidence so that you can show that Keff = 0.9 cannot go critical. After operating for another year at the higher Keff, you develop further evidence that Keff=0.95 cannot go critical. After that you can operate at neutron fluences that look like real reactors. In the meantime you can cycle through your first three or four attempts at controlling corrosion and separating fission products. Eventually you get your reactor license from NRC and build a copy without the beam.

Curiously, it looks like I may have to develop an intuition for neutron fluences measured in amps, which I know is technically wrong, but still useful when thinking about ADS systems.

-Iain


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Apr 02, 2010 11:24 am 
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Now that sounds sensible. Can you provide a synopsis of how many neutrons the accelerator can supply using current technology and how much such a thing might cost?


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Apr 02, 2010 3:12 pm 
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It would be nice to get a copy of the presentation material from the breakout sessions as well as the main conference. Will that be possible?


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 Post subject: Re: TEAC2
PostPosted: Apr 02, 2010 4:25 pm 
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Jess Gehin wrote:
It would be nice to get a copy of the presentation material from the breakout sessions as well as the main conference. Will that be possible?


Via facebook, I'm told they will be made available soon.

iain wrote:
The biggest news of all to me is that the resulting machine is not regulated by the NRC as a nuclear reactor, so long as you can make an airtight case that it cannot go critical. You still need a radiological materials license from NRC, as well as a radiological test facility license from the state. Many of both these have been granted, apparently.


Wow, really? I didn't hear that. I did hear that if you power the accelerator with solar panels, you can get a solar tax credit for the entire plant!

Can somebody who knows more about LFTR than I explain some of the constraints around reprocessing? I know some designs call for continuous reprocessing, some for batch reprocessing every 7, 30 etc years. What are the design constraints governing this?

I am increasingly of the belief that the principle thing keeping both LFTR and fast breeders down is the complexity/cost/fear of fuel processing. If half of what ADNA said about GEM*STAR is true, it's going to have a lead over other gen IV designs. Any time we see a technology on an exponential curve, there's got to be opportunity. Google put their chips on the storage curve before they even knew exactly what they'd do with it. Currently only theoretical physics benefits from the curve on accelerators.

I want to get the paper on the graphite material study - can anybody find a PDF?

-Carl


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PostPosted: Apr 02, 2010 4:29 pm 
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I have pieced together three presentations that I found online that provide technical and project details for ADNA / Gem*Star

http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/04/molten ... riven.html

they need about $500 million to complete the 100MW pilot. If successful could deploy in about 14 years

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