Molten Salt Reactors for Process Heat in the Oilsands by Penumbra Energy
May 16, 2013
Is a molten salt reactor a thorium reactor? Or is a thorium reactor a subset of molten salt reactors. I'm cool with thorium reactors as an alternative to coal and oil. Might be economic to have a hybrid thorium and bio-methane offshore power plant because of seasonal variations in biomethane supply from our ocean afforestation operations.
May 17, 2013
Thorium reactors are simply a MSR that utilizes thorium as the fuel. We often state that utilizing thorium is not necessary as the fuel cycle is so efficient that existing uranium supply's would be more than adequate to fuel these reactors for generations. Imagine you discovered a new fuel that internal combustion engines could consume. That would in essence be "thorium". If I discovered a new type of internal combustion engine that would consume 1L of gasoline for 100000km of driving would you really need the new fuel? The new engine is the "MSR". Thorium gets a lot of great press but as we say, come for the thorium stay for the reactor.
Jul 9, 2013
I've been worried about the potential for increased oilsands production with this plan. I just came across an article that puts some perspective on it: http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/2013/07/08/protecting-a-drowning-man-from-sunburn/ There's an impressive graph but basically, the most CO2 that could be produced from the Alberta oilsands is a very small fraction of what we could produce from coal. If this plan can help us bootstrap a technology that could make coal plants obsolete, it's a good trade, and reducing the emissions from oilsands production in the process is a nice bonus.
Jul 12, 2013
Surprised this one was deemed infeasible by the judges, given that a commercial company is executing the strategy right now. I hope you guys prove them wrong in the near future. (My entry, on the other hand, is a bit more speculative.)
Jul 14, 2013
Well thought out and well presented proposal. The use of nuclear energy as a replacement for gas-fired energy was not felt to be particularly innovative and not particularly feasible given the lack of an appetite for the pursuit of nuclear solutions over the next 50 years.