Author Topic: Mr. Fission: Salt reactor runs on nuclear waste  (Read 1459 times)

Offline quadz

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Mr. Fission: Salt reactor runs on nuclear waste
« on: March 15, 2013, 04:49:08 PM »
The Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) runs on materials the industry currently discards as waste:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/03/14/nuclear_reactor_salt/

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Most conventional nuclear reactors – in the US at least – are light-water reactors, but this design has a number of disadvantages. The reactors only use about 3 per cent of the potential energy stored in the uranium pellets that power them, and the resultant waste still contains enough energy to be radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years. The average US plant produces 20 tons of such waste a year.

They also suffer from safety problems, since an external power source is required to cool the reaction chamber and to shut down the plant if necessary. It was the failure of these power systems (owing to the tsunami cutting both power to the plant and swamping the backup generators) that caused Fukushima's reactor problems.

The WAMSR takes "waste" fuel pellets and dissolves them in molten salt. The fluid is then pumped into a graphite core to induce a reaction and generate heat, which is extracted via a heat exchanger and used to drive steam turbines and generate power.

The design is much more fuel-efficient than light-water reactors – using 98 per cent of the potential energy in uranium pellets – and a WAMSR unit would produce just three kilos of waste a year that would be radioactive for only hundreds of years rather than hundreds of thousands.

With around 270,000 tons of nuclear waste available worldwide, the reactors would be enough to supply all the world's projected energy needs for the next 70 years. As a side benefit, this could also reduce nuclear proliferation since countries would no longer have to manufacturer nuclear fuel.

As a safety feature, WAMSR's liquid-fuel pipes are connected to a drain plug of salt that has been frozen solid. If humans aren't around and the power to the plant fails, the plug melts and the nuclear fuel drains into a holding tanks, cools, and solidifies over the space of a few days.


It's also supposed to be less expensive to build than prior reactors.

If this thing really works, what a freakin win-win.


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Re: Mr. Fission: Salt reactor runs on nuclear waste
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2013, 04:07:08 AM »
Jesus. 3 fuckin' percent!?! That's very little output for a material that is in very short supply on this planet.

Heat exchangers are probably cheaper in material costs to build than some reactor chamber, but they're also heavy as fuck. Something like that would require some serious lifting power to get it in place, even if they kinda custom built it on-site... which they'd obviously have to do. It would be HUGE. Heat exchangers are also extremely reliable if they're built properly, and I'd assume that a nuclear power facility would have a computer system and on-site personnel 24/7 monitoring things, so there's almost no chance for failure. Initially when one starts having problems, it'll build up oxidation or deposits in it that will decrease heat output and then lead to bigger problems eventually if you just leave it to continue. It's not something that happens quickly though, so it's easy to catch and fix if you monitor it constantly.
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Re: Mr. Fission: Salt reactor runs on nuclear waste
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2013, 04:08:26 AM »
When they build it, I'm sending Golgo to it first thing.  That pile of shit can be the first to go! :D
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