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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   ( divider line
    More: Cool, nuclear reactors, Taylor Wilson, steam turbines, nuclear fissions, nuclear fusions  
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4545 clicks; posted to Geek » on 18 Jun 2013 at 10:14 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-06-18 10:57:13 PM  
2 votes:
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 10:52:20 PM  
2 votes:
A 19 year old has never come up with anything except a new way to pop zits.
2013-06-18 09:41:42 PM  
2 votes:
And by new hotness, we mean used in Soviet and Russian nuclear subs for 40 years.
2013-06-18 09:25:41 PM  
2 votes:
I thought the soviets used these in their navy?
2013-06-19 09:05:49 AM  
1 vote:

Befuddled: 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.

TED talks are about higher-level ideas.  In this case the idea is the decentralization of the power grid using nuclear (instead of solar, which is the dominant decentralization paradigm).  The technical stuff is an argument that it's viable, not the core purpose of the talk itself.
2013-06-19 12:54:07 AM  
1 vote:
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 12:53:32 AM  
1 vote:
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.
2013-06-18 11:43:27 PM  
1 vote:
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 10:50:55 PM  
1 vote:
Ted talks have really gone down hill since they started up
2013-06-18 10:40:47 PM  
1 vote:
img.fark.netView Full Size
2013-06-18 10:20:06 PM  
1 vote:

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.
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