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(TED)   Old and Busted: Pressurized steam turbine nuclear reactors. New Hotness (pun intended): Molten salt nuclear reactors. Fark: Designed by a 19 year old   (ted.com) divider line 76
    More: Cool, nuclear reactors, Taylor Wilson, steam turbines, nuclear fissions, nuclear fusions  
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4529 clicks; posted to Geek » on 18 Jun 2013 at 10:14 PM (43 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2013-06-18 09:25:41 PM
I thought the soviets used these in their navy?
 
2013-06-18 09:41:42 PM
And by new hotness, we mean used in Soviet and Russian nuclear subs for 40 years.
 
2013-06-18 10:04:43 PM
How did this kid achieve a fusion reaction?

/I must be confused
//I didn't think controlled fusion was possible yet
///I'm certain, though, that someone will be along to tell me I'm an idiot shortly
 
2013-06-18 10:13:22 PM
At somepoint you have make steam, no turbine I know runs on molten salt.
 
2013-06-18 10:19:55 PM

MaudlinMutantMollusk: How did this kid achieve a fusion reaction?

/I must be confused
//I didn't think controlled fusion was possible yet
///I'm certain, though, that someone will be along to tell me I'm an idiot shortly


you're an idiot, and don't call me shortly

/that's it, need more beer
 
2013-06-18 10:20:06 PM

MaudlinMutantMollusk: How did this kid achieve a fusion reaction?

/I must be confused
//I didn't think controlled fusion was possible yet
///I'm certain, though, that someone will be along to tell me I'm an idiot shortly


There was a thread about it recently, I think another kid has a fusion science fair demonstration.

Apparently you can do a little fusion on a tabletop but it's very weak and it uses more energy than it produces.
 
2013-06-18 10:23:44 PM
Can someone more interested in watching the video let us know how it is this 19-year-old is responsible for the "new hotness" of molten salt reactors, which have been around since the 60s?
 
2013-06-18 10:24:59 PM
LFTR?

*checks article*

Well, he gave a nod at least.
 
2013-06-18 10:36:17 PM

semiotix: Can someone more interested in watching the video let us know how it is this 19-year-old is responsible for the "new hotness" of molten salt reactors, which have been around since the 60s?


I've had a layman's interest in nuclear power and thorium salt reactors in particular for a number of years. I didn't see anything novel, but he did make a nice presentation.
 
2013-06-18 10:40:47 PM
img.fark.net
 
2013-06-18 10:41:33 PM
Yeah, tech has been around for decades, but it's all been suppressed by the pressurized steam turbine cartel.
 
2013-06-18 10:43:11 PM
Ted: Ideas worth ignoring.
 
2013-06-18 10:47:07 PM

albuquerquehalsey: Ted: Ideas worth ignoring.


That you found it necessary to come here to express that suggests that you might be worth ignoring, too.

LesserEvil: Yeah, tech has been around for decades, but it's all been suppressed by the pressurized steam turbine cartel.


Kirk Sorensen (search for Sorensen LFTR on YouTube) goes into pretty good length on that history in one of his LFTR presentations. I'm sure that's old new to you, LesserEvil, but others might find it of interest.
 
2013-06-18 10:47:59 PM

semiotix: Can someone more interested in watching the video let us know how it is this 19-year-old is responsible for the "new hotness" of molten salt reactors, which have been around since the 60s 50s?


FTFY! http://www.energyfromthorium.com/pdf/FFR_part0.pdf
 
2013-06-18 10:50:55 PM
Ted talks have really gone down hill since they started up
 
2013-06-18 10:52:20 PM
A 19 year old has never come up with anything except a new way to pop zits.
 
2013-06-18 10:57:13 PM
Ummm, he hasn't designed squat. He has just regurgitated existing proposals.

Also his plans to use plutonium as a fuel in a commercial plant runs afoul of a few international treaties.
 
2013-06-18 10:57:25 PM

AndreMA: albuquerquehalsey: Ted: Ideas worth ignoring.

That you found it necessary to come here to express that suggests that you might be worth ignoring, too.

LesserEvil: Yeah, tech has been around for decades, but it's all been suppressed by the pressurized steam turbine cartel.

Kirk Sorensen (search for Sorensen LFTR on YouTube) goes into pretty good length on that history in one of his LFTR presentations. I'm sure that's old new to you, LesserEvil, but others might find it of interest.


My comment was made in jest, but since that swooped high overhead, my serious comment would be Thorium molten salts reactors are a great idea whose time has come, along with pebble bed reactors.
 
2013-06-18 10:58:37 PM
I'm too tired to watch but is this anything like the thorium reactor concept that's been around for years and sadly ignored? I know it involved molten salt, but I think that was for handling meltdowns, whereby heat would increase to the point that the salt plug on the reactor becomes molten allowing, the reactor core to evacuate as a automated safeguard.
 
2013-06-18 11:05:43 PM

basemetal: I thought the soviets used these in their navy?


vossiewulf: And by new hotness, we mean used in Soviet and Russian nuclear subs for 40 years.


They used liquid metal coolant, generally lead-bismuth eutectic alloy IIRC.  Salts make for rather different material and chemical considerations, and they don't have the nasty habit of expanding if they freeze and bursting the plumbing.
 
2013-06-18 11:06:41 PM
I don't understand why it has to be Morton salt.
 
2013-06-18 11:07:01 PM
No thanks.

3.bp.blogspot.com
 
2013-06-18 11:10:29 PM
Using molten salt as your heat exchange fluid is not the least bit "new"
 
2013-06-18 11:11:48 PM

gameshowhost: I don't understand why it has to be Morton salt.


When it rains, it pours?
 
2013-06-18 11:12:53 PM

gameshowhost: I don't understand why it has to be Morton salt.


No bid contracts, and Dick Cheney has a friend on the board.
 
2013-06-18 11:32:19 PM
He wants to bury his reactor underground. That would be a bad idea as when the thing leaks it will contaminate the ground.

This isn't a good topic for a TED talk as the subject is way too technical. There is too much 'trust me, this will work the way I say it will' going on.
 
2013-06-18 11:33:02 PM

Professor Science: basemetal: I thought the soviets used these in their navy?

vossiewulf: And by new hotness, we mean used in Soviet and Russian nuclear subs for 40 years.

They used liquid metal coolant, generally lead-bismuth eutectic alloy IIRC.  Salts make for rather different material and chemical considerations, and they don't have the nasty habit of expanding if they freeze and bursting the plumbing.


Yeah, the article made me go off on a tangent looking that up.  Thanks.
 
2013-06-18 11:40:48 PM
timujin: MaudlinMutantMollusk: How did this kid achieve a fusion reaction?

/I must be confused
//I didn't think controlled fusion was possible yet
///I'm certain, though, that someone will be along to tell me I'm an idiot shortly

you're an idiot, and don't call me shortly

So when,  then?
 
2013-06-18 11:43:27 PM
I got the impression from listening to his speech that he's referring to his specific design, i.e. the modular built-in-a-factory design that he put together, as new, not the underlying technology.

I don't know if an assembly line modular reactor idea really is new or not, but perhaps searching for a little perspective and context, before immediately accusing him of plagiarism, may be in order.

Less Judging, more Perceiving, no?
 
2013-06-18 11:44:59 PM
I thought molten salts was old hat and used in several steam type turbines and solar concentrators etc.
 
2013-06-18 11:46:46 PM
So is it like the Soviet ones that could never be turned off?  Cuz that worked out so well for them.
 
2013-06-18 11:56:43 PM
There, there, AndreMA. It will all be ok.
 
2013-06-18 11:57:16 PM
Meh ... its TED ... I have better things to do ...
 
2013-06-19 12:02:56 AM

Professor Science: They used liquid metal coolant, generally lead-bismuth eutectic alloy IIRC. Salts make for rather different material and chemical considerations, and they don't have the nasty habit of expanding if they freeze and bursting the plumbing.


Unless I'm missing something what he is talking about is identical to the reactor design used in the Soviet Alfa class which went into production in 1974.
 
2013-06-19 12:04:53 AM

MaudlinMutantMollusk: How did this kid achieve a fusion reaction?

/I must be confused
//I didn't think controlled fusion was possible yet
///I'm certain, though, that someone will be along to tell me I'm an idiot shortly


img.fark.net

/it has a net loss of energy, but its fusion
 
2013-06-19 12:06:17 AM
Meh, that's nothing.

I've got this amazing new idea of taking an engine, mounting a propeller on it and attaching it to some kind of structure with wings and stabilizers. I'll be in all the papers next week.
 
2013-06-19 12:21:49 AM

LesserEvil: My comment was made in jest, but since that swooped high overhead, my serious comment would be Thorium molten salts reactors are a great idea whose time has come, along with pebble bed reactors.


You were correct in your jest, though. The story of Weinberg, Wigner and Rickover (and the politics surrounding the killing of the molten salt reactor program) is quite interesting.

Pebble bed looks quite interesting too, especially from a safety standpoint. But while one can continuously and gradually refuel such a reactor as you can a molten salt one, there's the continuing expense of fabricating new pebbles. I have to wonder if you'd end up left with a lot of contaminated graphite as low level waste. I'd not considered that before, but appears to be an issue with graphite from other types of reactors.
 
2013-06-19 12:26:35 AM
Hate to burst the bubble but its older than the 60's one of the submarine first reactor plants was a liquid sodium medium. Upside, lots of efficiency. Downside... burns in contact with water. Secondary still boiled water to make steam to turn a turbine.

New hotness.. use high temp gas in the secondary. difficulty,  usually a state change is required to transfer enough energy from the steam to the turbine. with superheated gasses no state change..even with 50% efficiency (unlikely) you still will have a lot of waste heat to deal with so that underground idea ... not so good.
 
2013-06-19 12:53:32 AM
The real point of the TED talk isn't that there is a novel new design for a nuclear reactor, it's that there is a teenager interested enough to be able to speak authoritatively about such a subject. The kid doesn't get that he's not there to inform anyone, he's there to be a dancing monkey. No doubt this kid will end up making at least a few valuable contributions during his career but he's going at some point look back at this video and be embarrassed by how much, despite the technical information presented, he comes off as arrogant and self serving. Or basically, like a typical kid his age. I know it sounds like I'm ragging on the guy but he's really not at fault. He's acting the way people his age normally act, but with a different point of interest that the usual obsession with a fantasy football team. Those who pushed him in front of the camera and told him he's changing the world should be kicked in the nuts. The kid will be fine as long as he doesn't believe the hype coming out of his handlers.
 
2013-06-19 12:54:07 AM
He's saying his design uses a brayton cycle, where helium or carbon dioxide gets heated,  expands and powers a turbine, then is condensed and collected  to use again.  You can see a fan-equipped building in his drawing that's part of the heat exchanger/cooling  tower. You could also imagine Stirling type heat engines turning generators thru gearboxes.

 This design beats using water because water passing thru a core gets pelted with neutrons and becomes radioactive water, or even tritium, but Helium or CO2 atoms don't present much of a target for neutrons, so the gas loop remains radiologically clean.  Maybe 80 percent of the structure you see in boiling water or pressurized water fission reactors is all there to handle and contain and store irradiated water/steam.  All that plumbing suffers corrosion and mechanical stress, and all the penetrations of the pressure vessel for the pipes just create more potential places to leak dirty water.  Any disruption of water supply is an emergency.

You could throw almost all of that away with the kid's design.  True, molten sodium is nothing to be careless with, but the loop is short and uncomplicated in comparison to water systems, and the trick with sodium loops is you work to keep it GOING, not to keep it from running away: it naturally wants to cool down and stop reacting.    High temp gas-cooled reactor designs could work by just heating normal outside air enough to pass thru high-efficiency turbine blades, no water needed.  His design has a compartment under the core that's like an oil drain pan under your car. If you need to kill the reactor right away, pouring  the liquid metal fuel/coolant mixture into a wider container, that also is full of neutron-absorbing materials,  thins and separates the  liquid fuel so it becomes sub-critical and cools down on it's own, like spilled candle wax. At that point the reactor is bricked, but the radioactive component is just the core and dump tank.  Since it is already buried and cooled to a solid, you could just abandon it in place, or  eventually dig it out and re-process the salt.

This is, as the kid says, also a safe way to dispose of plutonium from weapons. MOX fuel is military bomb-grade plutonium or uranium that's been adulterated with contaminants. This makes the fuel useless for a bomb, because it's no longer pure enough for a specific amount to go boom, but it is still hot enough of a material to use as reactor fuel, and in the process of being "burned" in  the reactor, that plutonium is transmuted over time to elements with a way shorter half-life. That means any waste you want to store, you could stop worrying about after only a decade or two, not thousands of years.

I could imagine a diplomatic mission where we offer any middle-east or asian or african state some of these reactor setups,  even the fuel, free, in exchange for them dropping their current, weapon-development-related nuclear programs. If they dared to continue trying to cook up weapons grade materials, the entire world would see them and call them on it. They'd have no more cover/excuse to develop plutonium, and they would have enough Thorium on hand to fuel the safe reactors themselves, without proliferation risks.
 
2013-06-19 01:10:31 AM

Trayal: I don't know if an assembly line modular reactor idea really is new or not,


No, not even close to it. This 1985 patent for example.

See also: Thorium-fueled underground power plant based on molten salt technology (PDF) - Ralph Moir and Edward Teller, 2004. One of its references is about Brayton-cycle power generation.
 
2013-06-19 01:13:35 AM

RangerTaylor: So is it like the Soviet ones that could never be turned off?  Cuz that worked out so well for them.


DING! DING! DING!  And we have a winner folks!

Potential ground water contamination and literally no way to remove the core once it's active, short of digging up the entire reactor and shooting it into space or encasing it in a couple feet of lead / dropping it into the deepest hole we can find.

No one does this for good reason.
 
2013-06-19 01:14:47 AM
I had enough of these TED talks when there was one by some ~8 year old kid spouting off about the evils of GMO foods, which had obviously been written by earthy mommy and daddy.
 
2013-06-19 01:15:22 AM
Oh and those Russian subs that used that type reactor? "Lost at sea" typically in the deepest hole they could find.
 
2013-06-19 01:21:03 AM

MaudlinMutantMollusk: How did this kid achieve a fusion reaction?

/I must be confused
//I didn't think controlled fusion was possible yet
///I'm certain, though, that someone will be along to tell me I'm an idiot shortly


I'm always surprised when someone hasn't heard of this by now, especially on here. Maybe you don't hang out enough in the geek tab?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusor

At this point, it's almost off-the-shelf parts. Still a lot of work to get working.
 
2013-06-19 01:36:10 AM

Ivo Shandor: Trayal: I don't know if an assembly line modular reactor idea really is new or not,

No, not even close to it. This 1985 patent for example.

See also: Thorium-fueled underground power plant based on molten salt technology (PDF) - Ralph Moir and Edward Teller, 2004. One of its references is about Brayton-cycle power generation.


yup...and yes...it is THE Edward Teller. you know..father of the H-bomb guy:-)
/Dr. Moir knows his stuff as well
 
2013-06-19 01:40:39 AM

Quantum Apostrophe: MaudlinMutantMollusk: How did this kid achieve a fusion reaction?

/I must be confused
//I didn't think controlled fusion was possible yet
///I'm certain, though, that someone will be along to tell me I'm an idiot shortly

I'm always surprised when someone hasn't heard of this by now, especially on here. Maybe you don't hang out enough in the geek tab?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusor

At this point, it's almost off-the-shelf parts. Still a lot of work to get working.


I guess my mistake was in the belief that a functional fusion reactor would create more energy than it consumes

/at least that's what I would consider "functional"
 
2013-06-19 01:41:09 AM

MaudlinMutantMollusk: How did this kid achieve a fusion reaction?

/I must be confused
//I didn't think controlled fusion was possible yet
///I'm certain, though, that someone will be along to tell me I'm an idiot shortly


There's a specific dance involved.
chrodrigue.files.wordpress.com
Don't screw it up...
 
2013-06-19 01:42:14 AM

acefox1: Meh, that's nothing.

I've got this amazing new idea of taking an engine, mounting a propeller on it and attaching it to some kind of structure with wings and stabilizers. I'll be in all the papers next week.


And what will this wondrous device do?
 
2013-06-19 01:55:17 AM

dyhchong: acefox1: Meh, that's nothing.

I've got this amazing new idea of taking an engine, mounting a propeller on it and attaching it to some kind of structure with wings and stabilizers. I'll be in all the papers next week.

And what will this wondrous device do?


So far, not much. He attached the propeller to the structure and let then engine spin on itself. I think it needs more work, myself.
 
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