Questions about nuclear energy

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Darth Wong » 2009-02-04 12:33pm

Uranium mining is killing people. Of course, every kind of mining kills people; mining is one of the more disgusting things that our technological society requires, and all of us who don't do it should be grateful to those who do.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Glom » 2009-02-04 12:34pm

Sky Captain wrote:In my country environmentalists are starting to attack planned replacement reactor for Ignalina nuclear power station in Lithaunia by claiming the nuclear power with 3 - 4 billion euro price tag for 1.6 GW reactor is too expensive to be economical also they claim it takes 10 years to build new reactor and at time when it`s going to be finished there will be better energy sources (one can wonder what sources ZPM`s perhaps :lol: ).


The ironic thing is that the long lead times and a notable proportion of the cost is actually due to them, either directly through their antics delaying the process or indirectly the through compulsion they incite in the authorities to make energy companies jump through a labyrinth of litigious hoops to get the process underway.

Not that such a large power station isn't a massive undertaking. Westinghouse's 3 year figure for the AP-1000 really is hopelessly optimistic. What I fear is that the nuclear industry, which has gone into overdrive with promise for the new nuclear rennaissance, may end up shooting themselves in the foot when they can't deliver on the lofty goals. 3 years to build a reactor? It'll take 5 and then the naysayers will say, "Told you!" In fact, for such a project 5 years is perfectly reasonable. There is no reason to go all hyper on the matter. They're like Boeing! But the need to fight the naysaying is getting the better of them.

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Teleros » 2009-02-04 12:38pm

Oberst Tharnow isn't arguing those points, but he's saying that a lot of the public are. It looks like what he's arguing is this:

Well, nuclear energy IS dangerous.
There is no solution for nuclear waste.
Its not even CO2 free.
There will be other energy solutions in the near future.

Thats what most people belive, and it is true.

The one I take exception to is the "no solution" bit, as we do have solutions. The rest is all true to some extent: nuclear energy is dangerous for example... you just need to add a lot of conditions to that one line (like "they screw up the safety protocols like Chernobyll" or "it's dangerous when used in a nuke" etc) :P . Likewise, it isn't CO2 free... but it is a lot better than most other forms of power generation.


Edit: And on a completely separate note, I finally reach 1k posts :P .

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Bilbo » 2009-02-04 12:49pm

Darth Wong wrote:
Yes, that's right. We can put a lot of blame on Jane Fonda.


Doesn't that apply to most things in life?
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Zixinus » 2009-02-04 12:52pm

Isn't "biomass" essentially burning stuff, like shit or wood? How is that better than burning charcoal? Somehow that doesn't sound very environmental-friendly to me.

it takes 10 years to build new reactor and at time when it`s going to be finished there will be better energy sources


This is why I am increasingly cynical and even hateful to so-called "alternatives". You don't have to be an engineer to realise it doesn't work that way.

The stage between prototype and efficient field unit is a long one, just for engineering, logistic and safety reasons. Money has to be spent, people have to be trained, documentation has to be made, improvements have to be developed, bugs have to be fixed. That's just the later prototypes. The logistics, even if not considering the politics, can take years.

The idea that there is no point building a new power plant because there is a non-detailed better alternative ten years later is absurd, especially considering that power use is only increasing and that there are power plants that were built half a century ago that are still operating.

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Bilbo » 2009-02-04 12:59pm

Zixinus wrote:Isn't "biomass" essentially burning stuff, like shit or wood? How is that better than burning charcoal? Somehow that doesn't sound very environmental-friendly to me.

it takes 10 years to build new reactor and at time when it`s going to be finished there will be better energy sources


This is why I am increasingly cynical and even hateful to so-called "alternatives". You don't have to be an engineer to realise it doesn't work that way.

The stage between prototype and efficient field unit is a long one, just for engineering, logistic and safety reasons. Money has to be spent, people have to be trained, documentation has to be made, improvements have to be developed, bugs have to be fixed. That's just the later prototypes. The logistics, even if not considering the politics, can take years.

The idea that there is no point building a new power plant because there is a non-detailed better alternative ten years later is absurd, especially considering that power use is only increasing and that there are power plants that were built half a century ago that are still operating.



I get the feeling that people who push this line of bullshit know the truth full and well. They know that in 10 years there will not be something better. But they also know that it sounds like a good line to the ignorant masses and use it to manipulate them.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Darth Wong » 2009-02-04 01:01pm

Bilbo wrote:I get the feeling that people who push this line of bullshit know the truth full and well. They know that in 10 years there will not be something better. But they also know that it sounds like a good line to the ignorant masses and use it to manipulate them.

Actually, I've dealt with plenty of people like this and I can assure you they're sincere. They're just too stupid to know better.

The average person doesn't know jack shit about how difficult it is to design and build complex engineered systems even with established technologies, never mind doing something unprecedented. But he thinks he knows, because he watches Discovery Channel specials about how they build dams and freight ships. That's the danger of a little bit of knowledge.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Zixinus » 2009-02-04 01:41pm

I'm an average person who sucks at physics, math, chemistry and biology and even I know that.

So, really, these are just exceptionally stupid people with too much time and sense of self-importance on their hands.

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby sketerpot » 2009-02-04 01:49pm

Darth Wong wrote:It's true that nuclear energy tends to use fossil fuels, but it's a deception. Uranium mining operations and other support operations use machinery which typically use fossil fuels, but that doesn't mean those operations actually REQUIRE fossil fuels in order to operate. In theory, they could use electric vehicles. In any case, by this logic ALL power generation methods require fossil fuels. You could make the same argument against wind turbines because the parts are carried to the build site by trucks.


This argument applies more to "sustainable energy" because of the ridiculously high energy density of uranium. A nuke plant needs to be built, yes, but to get the same kind of capacity with wind would require a lot more construction -- wind turbines are big these days. And since the power is intermittent you need to build loads of excess capacity distributed across the country and massively upgrade the electric grid to handle it. The NIMBY guys will oppose this, of course.

Since even that can't guarantee steady power, and we need steady power, a country that gets a major part of its power from wind is going to need a lot of natural gas peaker plants as backup. Alternative energy needs fossil fuels, and lots of them. (And for more fun, try looking at natural gas supply politics, and our distribution problems. Endless fun for people who like blackouts!)

So, yeah, dumbass environmentalists lack the brains to realize that they're killing the planet.

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2009-02-04 02:13pm

Look, with Molten Salt Reactors in the thorium cycle, we can deal with 99.6% of the nuclear waste through.. reprocessing. A vast quantity of the waste can be re-processed, and use the fast-breeder Sodium Flouride designs that have been proposed we can do on-site continuous reprocessing which means we never have to take the reactor off line for fueling. That's technology we could, at considerable cost and effort, implement probably in ten years, but this isn't like fusion; the Generation IV reactors are possible and we just need the political will to press ahead with them, since private corps won't build them precisely because they don't need vast refueling assemblies, which are what companies like Areva make their money off of supplying. At that rate of waste production, it would take us 15,000 years to produce as much nuclear waste as we've produced in the past 60 years. And then we can just use vitrification to store it all, not like most of it will be anything other than harmless in ten thousand years, because the longest-lived nuclear wastes are by physical constrains of the nature of radioactive materials by definition the least threatening.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Darth Wong » 2009-02-04 02:56pm

The nuclear waste fearmongers are just being whiny bitches. The fact is that we could just sink that shit in concrete blocks, dump it into oceanic abyssal trenches, and never really see any negative consequences. But we can't, because they want some absolutely hermetic solution for all time and can't be rational about this.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Sky Captain » 2009-02-04 02:57pm

Darth Wong wrote:
Sky Captain wrote:Their proposed alternative is to use waste biomass and set up a whole bunch of large wind turbines in Baltic sea to compensate for power deficit when Ignalina will be shut down.

As I said, it's easy to come up with a plan when you're allowed to be vague. They probably have absolutely NO idea whether their plan can work; it just sounds good when it's expressed verbally.


Well theoretically it could work, we have three large hydro power stations which could be combined with with wind farms by turning unpredictable wind into reliable hydro power simply by collecting water when wind is blowing hard and lot of power is produced from wind. That water later could be used when wind is too weak to produce enough power.

Of course for that to work it would be necessary to install about 2 - 3 GW of wind capacity that`s about 500 largest wind turbines available, build several hundreds km of high voltage transmission lines and underwater cables to get power from wind turbines to where it`s needed, build 500 MW natural gas fired backup power plant in case there is long period with little wind and low water like it happens to be quite often in the summer. Realistically it`s going to be much more expensive than for all three Baltic states to build one 1.6 GW reactor in place where all necessary power transmission infrastructure are already built.

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Serafina » 2009-02-04 04:30pm

OsirisLord wrote:
Oberst Tharnow wrote:Well, it IS true. There is no good solution for nuclear waste YET, and nuclear energy IS dangerous.
Nuclear energy is NOT CO2 free, and there will be better solutions in the future.
The claims themself are true - but they are overlooking important stuff.

What i wanted to ilustrate is that there are some good points against nuclear technology, but those are hardly impossible to overcome and/or bad.

Those people are arguing similar to creatonists:
-Scientists are still arguing how to dispose nuclear waste. Therefore, there is no solution at all.
-Nuclear energy is producing radiation. Radiation kills people. Scientists can not create 100% protection, only 99.99%.
Therefore, nuclear energy kills people.
-Mining/disposing nuclear material is producing CO2. Therefore, people claiming nuclear energy is CO2 free are wrong. How can we possibly believe anything they say?

They are just overlooking the facts and falling for logical fallacies. Their basic claims are true, but that does not mean their arguments are valid.

Claiming something is true doesn't make it true. I have brought two links in favor of nuclear power, both done by experts in this field of study, and both contradict your claims that nuclear radiation produced by power plants is killing people. Back up these claims or else they're just meaningless.


I wrote that from the point of view of nuclear-energy enemies to show how STUPID most of their arguments are.
They make some vague claims that are somewhat true - but THATS IT!
They have nothing you could call "proof" or even evidence for most of their claims, and lack the proper material and mindset for argumentation.
Fear is a tactic that works for everyone - not just the conservatives.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Sky Captain » 2009-02-05 08:50am

Some more reasons environmentalists here have started to put against nuclear energy.

1. Given the high costs and large generating capacity of a new nuclear power reactor once it`s built there will be no incentive to further develop and deploy renewable power sources.

2. Airliners are also not supposed to crash, have multiple inbuilt safety systems, but despite of all that several crashes occur each year. Apparently the same logic goes to nuclear rectors.

Of course there is no scientifically or technically credible reason to shut down existing Ignalina NPP - it could work fine for at least 30 years. Yes it is RBMK 1500 type, but there are a lot of safety upgrades compared to RBMK 1000 which blow up in Chernobyl and no one in his right mind would authorize similar experiment what caused Chernobyl to blow up. Extensive studies done regarding safety of Ignalina NPP have concluded chances of major accidents are comparable to western built reactors.

It all goes to politics because when Lithuania joined EU in 2004. one of the prerequisites set by western politicians was to shut down Ignalina NPP till the end of 2009. Apparently the fact that Lithuania joined EU have magically made Ignalina NPP less safe and may cause it to explode :lol:

Of course if environmentalists succeed and stop the planned new reactor project in Ignalina most likely alternative to solve Baltic region energy problems will be several new coal fueled power plants. How ironic when actions from those who should have work to protect our environment may lead to replacement of environmentally far superior power source with shitty coal power stations pumping tons of toxic shit in our atmosphere every day.

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Surlethe » 2009-02-05 10:09am

Just dropping into this thread to say that if it keeps being informative, when it's lived its life I'll punt it into the Library.

Also ...
Sky Captain wrote:1. Given the high costs and large generating capacity of a new nuclear power reactor once it`s built there will be no incentive to further develop and deploy renewable power sources.

Why is this the case? It seems that this argument assumes energy demand will not continue to grow.

2. Airliners are also not supposed to crash, have multiple inbuilt safety systems, but despite of all that several crashes occur each year. Apparently the same logic goes to nuclear reactors.

This argument tacitly assumes that the probability of failure is the same. It's not; nuclear reactors are far safer than airplanes.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Illuminatus Primus » 2009-02-05 03:50pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Oberst Tharnow wrote:
Well, it IS true. There is no good solution for nuclear waste YET, and nuclear energy IS dangerous.


ANYTHING involving high energy levels will be dangerous. The failure of the Banqiao hydropower dam killed 200,000 people for example. Coal power meanwhile is killing the entire planet as we speak.

It is patently false that we cannot deal with nuclear waste. Vertifirication can render even the worst nuclear waste stable for millions of years, and is being used actively by the US, Russia and Finland to name a few. This technology has been around for a good 30 years now. The only reason we don’t make more progress on dealing with all the waste is precisely because of endless political interference based on pure ignorance at best, outright lies more often, preventing work from going ahead full scale. We already know what we have to do. Indeed in the US we even have a government fund with a good 20 billion dollars in it, money from a tax on every kilowatt of nuclear energy produced, that literally cannot be spent because no one will let work start on Yucca mountain.


Its sick how the Green fanatics so "worried" about nuclear waste disposal will not allow the existing and definitive method go through in favor of it being dispersed in little swimming pools scattered across the U.S., simply so that it will be politically more difficult to build more plants.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Guardsman Bass » 2009-02-05 05:22pm

What kills me is when you see anti-nuclear, pro-wind power people criticize nuclear power plants for requiring CO2 in the construction process and mining. I mean, think about it - while you may or may not have to create CO2 in the mining machinery, at least the Nuclear Plant is in one distinct place; you could theoretically build a railroad line (or several) right up to the plant, and ship in the construction materials that way.

But with mass wind power, you've got to put all of these big turbines scattered all over the place, in isolated places (because the NIMBYs tend to hate them too, if the struggle to put some off of the Massachusetts coast is any indication). In other words, you have to usually drive them out there, frequently with large, CO2-burning trucks, and do that a lot. And that's just for the initial installment, since there are repairs, replacements, and so forth.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Sky Captain » 2009-02-06 06:44am

Yet another claims from greens against nuclear power I just came across.

1. People who actively support nuclear energy generally are involved in nuclear industry so their claims about nuclear power being safe and clean are not honest.

Yeah apparently uneducated morons who even do not understand basic principles how reactors operate are more knowledgeable about the subject than people who have studied for years to earn their degrees in nuclear physics or nuclear engineering.

2. In a democratic country if majority of population is against nuclear energy then government must listen to them and act appropriately and develop renewable energy sources which people support.

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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Illuminatus Primus » 2009-02-06 01:19pm

Sky Captain wrote:2. In a democratic country if majority of population is against nuclear energy then government must listen to them and act appropriately and develop renewable energy sources which people support.


This is an appeal to popularity and a changing of the goalposts. You're having an "is-ought" discussion. You're trying to persuade the people (also, a majority now favor nuclear expansion, so his little chickenshit argument is fallacious itself) as to what is in their interests and realistic means to realize those interests. So whether or not a majority of people agree does not resolve the very purpose of a discussion, which is to further persuade and justify. Furthermore, if you hold debate should cease when a majority is reached, than slavery would never have been removed; it enjoyed majority appeal for a great length of time.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2009-02-06 02:44pm

The simple fact is that there's no viable justification for avoiding a mass shift to nuclear power at this point. It's a simple fact that America could exceed all of the Kyoto Accord requirements for greenhouse gas emissions simply by replacing coal-fired powerplants with nuclear ones... In fact, we'd have a substantial reserve of reduced emissions for any future climate change agreement. Toss in things like mass conversion to heat sumps for homes, which will eliminate the noxious continued use of oil-burning furnaces in the northeast, and we reduce emissions further, since only electricity is needed for heating and that can be supplied by nukes. A few other simple things would be to revive a few big dam projects cancelled by environmentalist opposition in the middle of nowhere, and then to start mass-retrofitting of flood control and irrigation/navigation dams with turbines. There's tens of thousands of dams in the US, most of which could be used for at least micro-hydro and some for full scale hydroelectric installations. Ideally we could not merely eliminate our own fossil fuel usage for electricity and heating, but also produce enough nuclear electricity to sell it to Mexico and maybe anyone else close enough to do power transmission to in such quantities that they can eliminate their own fossil-fuel sources of energy as well.

Conservatives generally like nuclear, and this doesn't involve a single restriction on American industry... Whereas it will let us vastly cut through our existing greenhouse gas emissions, oh, and...

...The cute thing is that if we build enough nukes, we'll have the spare electricity to co-locate desalination plants and Fischer-Trosch cracking facilities next to the nukes, no need to put them out onto the grid. Then we can mass-produce huge quantities of drinkable water to deal with any forseeable consequences of climatic shift, and we can use our coal production, instead of putting coal workers in the soup kitchen line, to be converted into petroleum products produced right here in America, since we don't need them for anything else.

If we start getting in Generation IV MSR's, we can also expand our fuel options from uranium to also include thorium, and with fast breeders to that design, we can also co-locate fuel reprocessing on site, letting us do continuous reprocessing without ever taking the reactor offline for refueling due to the design. Then we'll be running reactors hot enough that we can use the waste heat to directly crack hydrogen out of more water so that we can produce hydrogen as a potential vehicle fuel as well. Though most of the waste heat will be captured through a massive cycle of turbines and sterling-cycle engines, squeezing as much power out of the heat differential between the steam and the surrounding air as we can after we've lost the ability to run it through another turbine for more electrical generation, we should still have enough waste energy left over from the entire process that we can tap it to steam-heat the entire facility and the surrounding homes.

So if we can imagine a Powerplant City of the future, we'd have a central bank of MSRs with directly integrated hydrogen recovery capability powering a huge collection of turbines and heat-differential engines, and from that providing energy to a desalination facility, and Fischer-Trosch process facility directly linked to a plastics factory (since the need for petroleum for cars would be reduced by the hydrogen), all of it provided with steam heat provided by the reactor just like the Soviets did, as would be the surrounding homes and businesses of the associated city. Transmission lines would carry away all of the remaining available power, which if we assume a bank of eight reactors or so in the multi-gigawatt range of potential production would remain very substantial to say the least. The city of Astoria for instance might be an ideal place for one of these facilities, with power easily supplied to Portland and coal for the Fischer-Trosch operations hauled in by railroad directly from the east, and plenty of seawater nearby for desalination and hydrogen cracking.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Guardsman Bass » 2009-02-06 05:15pm

How much water does an average Gigawatt-nuclear plant need? That's a potential limiter (since I've heard that seawater is less desirable), although there are plenty of rivers and lakes in the US, and you could even sit your nuke plants next to desalinization plants.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2009-02-06 06:38pm

Guardsman Bass wrote:How much water does an average Gigawatt-nuclear plant need? That's a potential limiter (since I've heard that seawater is less desirable), although there are plenty of rivers and lakes in the US, and you could even sit your nuke plants next to desalinization plants.


As I just proposed, use desalination. Though notice that with MSR reactors water is not used as the coolant; Sodium Fluoride is. That means that MSRs need less water, in fact, just the water from the turbine (cold) loop, than a LWR or BWR requires.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Kanastrous » 2009-02-06 06:39pm

Does sodium fluoride stay fluid if the temperature drops below a certain point? Is there a danger of the coolant solidifying in the plumbing?
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby Sea Skimmer » 2009-02-06 06:45pm

The Duchess of Zeon wrote:The simple fact is that there's no viable justification for avoiding a mass shift to nuclear power at this point. It's a simple fact that America could exceed all of the Kyoto Accord requirements for greenhouse gas emissions simply by replacing coal-fired powerplants with nuclear ones... In fact, we'd have a substantial reserve of reduced emissions for any future climate change agreement. Toss in things like mass conversion to heat sumps for homes, which will eliminate the noxious continued use of oil-burning furnaces in the northeast, and we reduce emissions further, since only electricity is needed for heating and that can be supplied by nukes.


At enormously increased cost, sure, people wont be liking that one bit. No, I think people will be keeping up the oil burning heat until we literally have no oil, and by then someone may well have designed a CO2 capture system for a coal burning home furnace at sane cost and reasonable reliability. Wouldn't that be grand, go back to the future!

The Duchess of Zeon wrote:
As I just proposed, use desalination. Though notice that with MSR reactors water is not used as the coolant; Sodium Fluoride is. That means that MSRs need less water, in fact, just the water from the turbine (cold) loop, than a LWR or BWR requires.


That seems like little advantage in terms of using less water, the water in the primary coolant loop is a rather irrelevant amount compared to how much you need in the condensers and cooling towers. Meanwhile you've introduced some non trivial problems with handling that sodium coolant.
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Re: Questions about nuclear energy

Postby The Duchess of Zeon » 2009-02-06 06:54pm

Sea Skimmer wrote:
At enormously increased cost, sure, people wont be liking that one bit. No, I think people will be keeping up the oil burning heat until we literally have no oil, and by then someone may well have designed a CO2 capture system for a coal burning home furnace at sane cost and reasonable reliability. Wouldn't that be grand, go back to the future!


Installation cost, yes, that will be much higher. Operating cost, much lower, as a very small amount of electricity is required to supplement the geothermal heat-differential energy acquired by the use of a heat sump. Which can after all replace your A/C, heat, and hot water heater.


That seems like little advantage in terms of using less water, the water in the primary coolant loop is a rather irrelevant amount compared to how much you need in the condensers and cooling towers. Meanwhile you've introduced some non trivial problems with handling that sodium coolant.



Granted, that's true. I was just pointing it out. We do however have the reasonably feasable expectation of being able to get MSR's working within the next decade, unlike fusion, and the potentials of a fast breeder hot thorium cycle are enormous for efficiency, for processing, and for the applications of the reactor's great operating heat, i.e., with hydrogen cracking. The nicest thing of course is that we can just circulate the fuel through the Sodium fluoride and extract the fuel spheres that would be used for reprocessing, replacing them with others, without ever having to take the reactor offline. Continuous operating re-fueling and reprocessing makes the issues with Sodium Fluoride coolant well worth the effort to overcome.
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