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PostPosted: Jun 03, 2016 7:21 pm 
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Natural Li is an odd combination of a moderator Li-7 and neutron poison Li-6. For starting an MSR, we could lower our sights to lower neutron efficiency and use some different salt combination.
We could speed up work on production of U-233 by using a Th based fuel. The fissile could be reactor grade plutonium from reprocessing or 20% LEU, as proposed for LFTR, in other reactors.
The result could be an improvement on LWR.


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PostPosted: Jun 04, 2016 12:00 pm 
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jagdish wrote:
Natural Li is an odd combination of a moderator Li-7 and neutron poison Li-6. For starting an MSR, we could lower our sights to lower neutron efficiency and use some different salt combination.
I believe all investigations have shown nothing beats the fluorides of the two lightest elements in nature. Operating temperature range, heat capacity, thermal conductivity, neutron moderation, chemical stability, fluorine chemistry, nothing beats FLiBe for a fluid-fueled reactor that can run on a pure thorium fuel cycle. Brush Wellman (Materion) has shown their readiness to supply BeF2. And their operations are not far from major U.S. lithium deposits. And the recent advances in ionic liquids in separation technology are successful in green isotopic purification of HD lithium for profitable high-throughput counter-current green production.

jagdish wrote:
We could speed up work on production of U-233 by using a Th based fuel. The fissile could be reactor grade plutonium from reprocessing or 20% LEU, as proposed for LFTR, in other reactors.
The FE thorium fuel cycle would be a program. FE may have the inaugural LFTR contract but subsequent LFTR licenses would be market competitive. We do not have the thorium fuel cycle at this time running in parallel to the uranium fuel cycle. To start the pure thorium cycle with FE LFTR technology that is bi-modal--breeder and iso--requires an initial pure U-233 inventory as defined by the program. Dr. Glenn Seaborg pointed out a long time ago (Ahem!) . . . a Nobel-prize-winning chemist? . . . thorium is ONLY fertile. So. It's been awhile.

jagdish wrote:
The result could be an improvement on LWR.
Could be? No. Will be. There are doom and gloom members here who see LFTRs around 2035 years away because LWR (PWR) fixed on the one of two fuel cycles (!) in the U.S. is entrenched and the DOE and NRC together with the DOD are captured regulators as President Eisenhower warned would happen. Or is it just one big grab for power of the human kind - ego? Who calls the shots, eh?

Every coin has two sides. The other side of "give it up, dream on, it'll never work, another demonstrably failed technology" is that our Constitutional process isn't perfect but it works and is always getting better. Congress will pass and the President will sign smart tech regulations that will create megatons of wealth in an environmentally responsible fashion by intrepid industrialists. There's some work do to.


Congress and the President need to get this advanced nuclear legislation done now. We need the baseload non-emitting power now to get a megaton of domestic stuff done ASAP.

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PostPosted: Jun 07, 2016 9:52 pm 
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jagdish wrote:
Natural Li is an odd combination of a moderator Li-7 and neutron poison Li-6. For starting an MSR, we could lower our sights to lower neutron efficiency and use some different salt combination.


I've been thinking the same thing. If high purity Li-7 is too difficult to obtain for a first generation LFTR then some other salt could be used instead at the cost of reduced efficiency and/or power output. Once the concept is proven then subsequent designs could use FLiBe salts and/or the salt of the original LFTR could be replaced. The great thing about LFTR is that the carrier salt could even be replaced while in operation.

Another thought that occurred to me is to use the blanket salt on a two salt LFTR to transmute Li-6 to Li-7. Mr. Sorensen points out that neutrons are expensive so the cost of producing Li-7 this way as opposed to other means would have to be compared. As the heavy lithium is produced it can be added to the carrier salt. As the lithium fraction reaches eutectic the operating temperature range can be extended. With these neutrons being used to transmute lithium instead of breeding more fuel the reactor would be a burner until the carrier salt reaches eutectic, then it can become a breeder.

Using non-FLiBe salts and/or transmuting lithium in a reactor is taking a desperate path. If the powers that be will not allow the use of FLiBe in a LFTR then such desperate measures would have to be taken. We should not have to resort to desperation since we should already have ample evidence to make a case for LFTR from experiments made decades ago. Given that we do not yet have a commercially operating LFTR now then perhaps desperate measures are called for.

It comes down to needing neutrons. We can get them with centrifuges or with reactors. I'd think centrifuges would be more practical but as things are now that may not be the case.

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PostPosted: Jun 08, 2016 8:28 am 
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I think that changes (e.g. using Na and/or K) in the carrier salt(s) affects the power plant's design more than some may appreciate. On the fluid dynamics side you will have differences in viscosity that affect flow rate, pump power requirements, laminar/turbulent flow, and perhaps the He bubbler/off-gas system. The primary heat exchangers will be affected as well due to flow and heat transfer rate differences. There will also be a need to handle the effects of irradiating the Na and K. These are not show stoppers, but the differences are enough, IMHO, that the regulators would consider it to be a different plant.

Also, for some of us, we realize that nuclear power plant product cycle is a lot longer than, say, an iPhone. So it may be better to design for your end design goal versus "doing it next time" - there might not be a next time, the years & decades add up fast in this arena. But others disagree and are following their own path, such as designing for time-to-market and/or what is doable right now.

And for the 7Li the Hg amalgamation works - we know it does and we know it has been done in the past (and Russian and China currently use it, AFAIK). Mercury has gotten a bad name in general, and the Hg amalgamation has gotten a bad name in specific due to poor handling by ORNL. However, that just means the method could be used in another country and/or buy off suppliers in other countries. The highly depleted Li supply is not a physics, chemical, or engineering problem, it is a business problem.


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PostPosted: Jun 08, 2016 1:21 pm 
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Jim L. wrote:
And for the 7Li the Hg amalgamation works - we know it does and we know it has been done in the past (and Russian and China currently use it, AFAIK). Mercury has gotten a bad name in general, and the Hg amalgamation has gotten a bad name in specific due to poor handling by ORNL. However, that just means the method could be used in another country and/or buy off suppliers in other countries. The highly depleted Li supply is not a physics, chemical, or engineering problem, it is a business problem.
Jim, but what if the ionic liquids method works as well or better than COLEX (Hg amalgam)?

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PostPosted: Jun 08, 2016 1:39 pm 
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Jim L. wrote:
I think that changes (e.g. using Na and/or K) in the carrier salt(s) affects the power plant's design more than some may appreciate. On the fluid dynamics side you will have differences in viscosity that affect flow rate, pump power requirements, laminar/turbulent flow, and perhaps the He bubbler/off-gas system. The primary heat exchangers will be affected as well due to flow and heat transfer rate differences. There will also be a need to handle the effects of irradiating the Na and K. These are not show stoppers, but the differences are enough, IMHO, that the regulators would consider it to be a different plant.

Also, for some of us, we realize that nuclear power plant product cycle is a lot longer than, say, an iPhone. So it may be better to design for your end design goal versus "doing it next time" - there might not be a next time, the years & decades add up fast in this arena. But others disagree and are following their own path, such as designing for time-to-market and/or what is doable right now.
Excellent information, Jim. Thanks from one neophyte to nuclear engineering.

Doesn't this just point up how crucial a decision it was for Dr. Weinberg and ORNL in choosing fluorides of the two lightest elements on the periodic table? Lithium is abundant and Dr. Vidal (Materion Brush beryllium) claims there's more than enough beryllium to get into "the business" of FLiBe molten salt reactors.

I believe based on what you've said is that given the very slow product cycle measured in decades, the prototype has to merit the investments. Which is why a design that builds on the U.S. AEC's (ORNL) MSRE and the MSBR Program under Dr. Seaborg and Dr. Weinberg is BEST positioned to qualify for new DOE funding especially once the new NRC rules with an enhanced budget are passed into law. H.R. 4979 is rapidly gaining cosponsors.
SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) Nuclear energy generates approximately 20 percent of the total electricity and approximately 60 percent of the carbon-free electricity of the United States.

(2) Nuclear power plants operate consistently at a 90 percent capacity factor, and provide consumers and businesses with reliable and affordable electricity.

(3) Nuclear power plants generate billions of dollars in national economic activity through nationwide procurements and provide thousands of Americans with high paying jobs contributing substantially to the local economies in communities where they operate.

(4) The United States commercial nuclear industry must continue to lead the international civilian nuclear marketplace, because it is one of our most powerful national security tools, guaranteeing the safe, secure, and exclusively peaceful use of nuclear energy.

(5) Maintaining the Nation’s nuclear fleet of commercial light water reactors and expanding the use of new advanced reactor designs would support continued production of reliable baseload electricity and maintain United States global leadership in nuclear power.

(6) The development of advanced reactor designs would benefit from a performance-based, risk-informed, efficient, and cost-effective regulatory framework with defined milestones and the opportunity for applicants to demonstrate progress through Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval.

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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 8:18 am 
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@Tim,

I am very optimistic that the ionic method would work, and while I do not have an adequate estimate for cost, I believe there is a lucrative market for the first one to produce highly depleted Li in industrial quantities. Especially if the 6Li tailings can also be sold off to the big money fusion types.


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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 2:51 pm 
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Jim L. wrote:
I think that changes (e.g. using Na and/or K) in the carrier salt(s) affects the power plant's design more than some may appreciate.
<snip>
These are not show stoppers, but the differences are enough, IMHO, that the regulators would consider it to be a different plant.

I can see what you mean. There are two possible solutions to this that I see, a policy solution and an engineering solution.

The policy solution is to get regulators and policy makers that understand the not only the science and technology or nuclear power but the value economically and politically to advance this technology as quickly as we can.
...
HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! <snort> Whew! I tried to hold a straight face as long as I could. We're not likely to get people that understand technology and economics in Congress because such people tend to view elected office as a step down from what they can get in the business sector.

Another approach that I see is to have a two fluid MSR with FLiBe, FLiNaK, or some other suitable coolant salt as a blanket that contains lithium to soak up neutrons that leave the core. This blanket provides cooling, reduces the number of neutrons that can damage the containment, and as a nice byproduct we'd get heavy lithium. This MSR would not be a LFTR but would share many features with it. It'd be a MSR burner that should prove many concepts of LFTR and make regulators more comfortable with LFTR in the future.

Jim L. wrote:
Also, for some of us, we realize that nuclear power plant product cycle is a lot longer than, say, an iPhone. So it may be better to design for your end design goal versus "doing it next time" - there might not be a next time, the years & decades add up fast in this arena. But others disagree and are following their own path, such as designing for time-to-market and/or what is doable right now.


What is doable "right now" is more windmills and natural gas plants. It's difficult to gauge what would even be possible in the near future so we can merely brainstorm in forums like this one on how we might be successful in the future. As pointed out the problem with a shortage of Li-7 is purely economic. Without a market for it the price is very high. Since the price of this critical isotope is so high it makes LFTR and related technologies exceedingly expensive. A nice "catch-22", no?

I'm proposing devising some sort of compromise design, something that can be used as a proof of concept for some of the technologies in LFTR while still being something that regulators see as safe, and investors see as profitable. If we can show that a lithium based salt can be used as a coolant in a nuclear reactor then we'd prove some of the technologies as well as get some lithium soaking up neutrons to improve the price and supply issues for the future.

Perhaps even going with a MSR burner is too big of a step for the powers that be. Perhaps go with a salt cooled solid fuel reactor. I don't know enough about salt cooled solid fuel reactors to know if that solves the heavy lithium problem since even those might require large amounts of Li-7 to work.

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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 3:11 pm 
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Wow, Kurt. Nice stealth troll work. Well done. You have all the answers. List your reasons for why objectives cannot be met. Meanwhile, people are busy working to find ways to meet those objectives.
Kurt Sellner wrote:
. . . then we'd prove some of the technologies as well as get some lithium soaking up neutrons to improve the price and supply issues for the future.

We? Good luck with using neutrons to produce tons of 99.995% 7Li. Did you read the ion liquids methods?

I see you haven't posted here yet: DOE/NRC Workshop on Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors

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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 3:27 pm 
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Kurt Sellner wrote:
As pointed out the problem with a shortage of Li-7 is purely economic.
Disagree.

Even if LFTR were underway with government backing where 7LiF-BeF2 were firmly part of the program, it's so far either COLEX (Hg amalgam), crown ethers (liquid-liquid), and more likely ionic liquids (liquid-liquid) the last being likely the cheapest.

But, Kurt, you know to judge irradiation of 6Li to tritium is a good method? Ionic liquids will probably work BEST.

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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 3:59 pm 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
Wow, Kurt. Nice stealth troll work. Well done.

I don't know what you mean. If you feel I've offended you then I apologize. I'm in a bit of an odd mood right now, I haven't had much sleep since I've been up late every night studying for an exam I had this morning. I thought I'd unwind by reading and posting here before taking a nap. If my jocularity failed to come through in my earlier post then perhaps it's because I'm tired.

Tim Meyer wrote:
You have all the answers. List your reasons for why objectives cannot be met.

I never did claim to have all the answers, I'm merely thinking through the problem like my engineering professors taught me to.

Tim Meyer wrote:
Meanwhile, people are busy working to find ways to meet those objectives.

As am I. I'm giving my views on this in the hopes I've seen something others have not and/or I'll inspire someone to consider something new.

Tim Meyer wrote:
We? Good luck with using neutrons to produce tons of 99.995% 7Li.

Given that there is a shortage of Li-7 and tons of U-233 buried in the desert it is quite possible it would be cheaper to produce tons of Li-7 by neutron bombardment than any other method. Also, I don't propose ALL of the Li-7 come from neutron bombardment since even with neutron bombardment there would still be a need to separate it by centrifuges or whatever. What I do propose, and I admit the solution is far from perfect, is to increase the production of Li-7 by use of neutron bombardment in a way that could catch neutrons that might otherwise be "wasted" or lost.

Tim Meyer wrote:
Did you read the ion liquids methods?

No. I'm tired. I have work tomorrow, work this weekend, and a new summer class starting on Monday. Maybe I'll read it next week some time. I only replied here now because I got a notice that there was a reply to my post just before I was to walk away from the computer. Since you addressed me directly I felt compelled to reply right away.

Tim Meyer wrote:

That will likely have to wait until next week as well.

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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 4:01 pm 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
Kurt Sellner wrote:
As pointed out the problem with a shortage of Li-7 is purely economic.
Disagree.

Even if LFTR were underway with government backing where 7LiF-BeF2 were firmly part of the program, it's so far either COLEX (Hg amalgam), crown ethers (liquid-liquid), and more likely ionic liquids (liquid-liquid) the last being likely the cheapest.

But, Kurt, you know to judge irradiation of 6Li to tritium is a good method? Ionic liquids will probably work BEST.


I don't understand your rebuttal. You didn't show why the shortage of Li-7 is anything other than an economic problem.

Time for my nap.

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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 4:15 pm 
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Kurt, hope you got a good nap. It's first a technical decision, then that influences the economics. Both are important. But I thought this topic was "FLiBe with 99.995% 7Li" where:
Torres started this topic and wrote:
How feasible will be to use a molten salt reactor to purify 99.9% 7Li to 99.995% 7Li by injecting small quantities of 99.9% 7Li and leave the reactor decompose the 6li up to 99.995% 7Li purity?
I read through this discussion and the answer to Torres' question seems to be that it's possible, probably not feasible, and certainly not desirable! The Hg amalgam COLEX process can and is being done but if a "greener" better process (ILs?) can be introduced, then the preference is to not use mercury. And definitely NOT neutrons!

Maybe you can find the post where Dr. David LeBlanc here gives the equivalent price for neutrons. I bet it's much higher than the new ionic liquids that are entering industrial, pharmaceutical, and many other processes, likely much higher than COLEX and crown ethers (liquid-liquid).

So the rest of this discussion belongs under: Lithium-7
August 31, 2007, Andrew W. Mangold wrote:
It looks like most of the government produced enriched lithium was prepared using the Li-Hg process or gas diffusion using the Y-12 plant. Where will we get the multiple tons of 99.999% enriched Li-7 for our MSRs?

This question has been running since 2007 for almost nine years! Flibe Energy started in 2011. The first of the IL papers is from 2012. The text on ILs is 2014. The EPRI published a tech innovation report on Flibe Energy's LFTR in October 2015.

And unless there is some major breakthrough on a licensing plan for the Flibe Energy LFTR and the roll-out of a pure throium fuel cycle soon, "we" won't have to worry about soaring demand for 99.995% 7Li anytime soon.

Wow! Can you feel the Bern?

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PostPosted: Jun 09, 2016 11:07 pm 
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Tim Meyer wrote:
Kurt, hope you got a good nap.

I did, I feel quite refreshed.

Tim Meyer wrote:
It's first a technical decision, then that influences the economics. Both are important. But I thought this topic was "FLiBe with 99.995% 7Li" where:
Torres started this topic and wrote:
How feasible will be to use a molten salt reactor to purify 99.9% 7Li to 99.995% 7Li by injecting small quantities of 99.9% 7Li and leave the reactor decompose the 6li up to 99.995% 7Li purity?
I read through this discussion and the answer to Torres' question seems to be that it's possible, probably not feasible, and certainly not desirable!

I did not propose putting natural lithium in the fuel/carrier salt as Torres did, I proposed putting it in the blanket/cooling salt where it should have little to no effect on the ability of the core to stay critical. The trade off is that the neutrons would be "eaten" by the lithium instead of being used to breed more fuel. I understand that this is not optimal but there is no optimal solution here, it's all a compromise.

Using natural lithium in the coolant salt allows for the coolant to be much lighter and easier flowing than many alternatives. With the Li-6 in the coolant to soak up neutrons the risks of radiation should be reduced since there would not be delayed fission, spontaneous fission, and so forth from fissile materials being carried outside the core. If there was something in the coolant that happened to produce neutrons then the Li-6 would likely soak that up too. This seems like a plus to me, in addition to the production of heavy lithium.

Tim Meyer wrote:
Maybe you can find the post where Dr. David LeBlanc here gives the equivalent price for neutrons.

I did, I also saw where Dr. LeBlanc stated that producing Li-7 by neutron bombardment is something that may prove feasible. What Dr. LeBlanc proposed was to take a LiF salt that was 3 or 4 nines pure and allow the reactor to burn up the rest of the Li-6. What I proposed was kind of the opposite, use natural lithium in the blanket and let it soak up neutrons until it reached something like 2 or 4 nines purity and then use that as feedstock for whatever method was appropriate to bring that to the 5 or 7 nines purity for LFTR.

Tim Meyer wrote:
I bet it's much higher than the new ionic liquids that are entering industrial, pharmaceutical, and many other processes, likely much higher than COLEX and crown ethers (liquid-liquid).

Until we actually put these processes into use it is nearly impossible to know the real costs. Dr. LeBlanc appears to think that neutron bombardment of Li-6 may have some value. Mr. Sorensen disagrees with Dr. LeBlanc on this, and it appears that this is not the only point in which they disagree. Mr. Sorensen believes that any neutron used for anything other than fission or breeding fuel is a waste of money, and I can certainly see his point. What I'm seeing is a lot of discussion on the cost and difficulty in producing Li-7 with a high enough purity that it is suitable for use in a LFTR, and I believe nothing should be ruled out until we have some real data on costs. I'm merely agreeing with Dr. LeBlanc, there could be some value in neutron bombardment for producing high purity Li-7.

If I misunderstood what anyone has proposed, especially Mr. Sorensen and Dr. LeBlanc, then I apologize. I welcome any corrections to my statements.

Tim Meyer wrote:
Wow! Can you feel the Bern?

I don't follow. Has Senator Sanders made a statement on nuclear energy that I am not aware of?

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PostPosted: Jun 10, 2016 8:05 am 
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I feel that I should also point out that using the neutrons to transmute the Li-6 is going to produce an enormous amount of tritium. There will always be some tritium produced independent of the isotopic mix of Li, but now you are talking about kilograms of the stuff. I'm generally not too worried about the tritium, but it does need to be properly sequestered/captured and it will be easier if there is less of it. However, the huge elephant in the room will be the NRC - sometimes I swear that they worry more about tritium than U or Pu!!


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