Friday, July 10, 2009

What do thorium reactors and girls who can cite the periodic table from memory have in common?

Answer: Kirk Sorensen. Kirk just got back from England where he gave a successful and compelling presentation on liquid fluoride thorium reactors at the Manchester Town Hall.

I should have known right from the moment I walked in the building that this was going to go well. Right inside the main door are two large statues; one of James Prescott Joule, the famous physicist and thermodynamicist, and the other of John Dalton, chemist and pioneer of atomic theory. As I walked by, Joule whispered that I better tell them a bit about thermodynamics, and Dalton reminded me that chemists could build the best reactor of all.

...

I went through the process of converting thorium to energy and showed how a LFTR uses liquid fluoride fuel to carry the uranium and thorium in a two-fluid arrangement designed to follow the natural processes of thorium's conversion to protactinium, uranium, and then to energy. I described the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment and how it demonstrated that this was a real and feasible approach to take to extracting the energy from thorium. I described a more modern version--the Liquid-Fluoride Thorium Reactor--that would couple the fluoride reactor to a closed-cycle gas turbine and enable the extraction of energy from thorium at an efficiency roughly 300 times greater than we currently get from uranium in existing reactors.

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This radical improvement in efficiency means that we could supply world energy needs with about 6000 tonnes of thorium rather than the 65,000 tonnes of uranium, 5 billion tonnes of coal, 32 billion barrels of oil, and 3 trillion cubic meters of gas we use today.

Thorium resources are abundant and a single thorium site in Idaho could provide nearly all the world's yearly demand for thorium...
And how did he feel about the event?
It was a great experience!
Be sure to stop by and read the rest of his post and to also find out who he got to meet there. On a lighter note, check out Kirk's two daughters, Zoe (7) and Kaija (4, just turned 5), recite the periodic table from memory. I hope my future kids turn out to be as smart as them!

1 comment:

djysrv said...

Bravo to NEI for reaching out to the nuclear blogging community.

This video was produced during the annual meeting of the American Nuclear Society. I was there and watched it happen live.

At the meeting four the nation's most prolific nuclear bloggers held forth during an ANS sponsored panel for three hours to an audience of over 100 people on how to blog about nuclear energy.

It has been said that nuclear blogging achieved critical mass at ANS Atlanta. You can read about it at the Energy Collective