Liquid FLiBe salt. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

How Molten Salt Reactors Might Spell a Nuclear Energy Revolution

Liquid FLiBe salt. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Liquid FLiBe salt. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ever since former NASA engineer Kirk Sorensen revived the forgotten molten salt reactor (MSR) technology in the 2000s, interest in MSR technology has been growing quickly. Since 2011, four separate companies in North America have announced plans for MSRs: Flibe Energy (started by Sorenson himself), Transatomic Power (started by two recent MIT graduates), Terrestrial Energy (based in Canada, which recently partnered with Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory), and Martingale, Inc., which recently made public its design for its ThorCon MSR.

In addition, there is now renewed interest in MSRs in Japan, Russia, France and China, with China also announcing that MSR technology is one of its “five innovation centers that will unite the country’s leading talents for research in advanced science and technology fields, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.”

Why this sudden interest in a nuclear technology that dates back to the 1950s? The answer lies in both the phenomenal safety of MSRs and their potential to help solve so many of today’s energy related problems, from climate change to energy poverty to the intermittency of wind and solar power. In fact, MSRs can operate so safely, they may alleviate public fears about nuclear energy. Before looking at the potential of MSRs, though, it is useful to first take a high-level look at what they are and how they work.

What is a Molten Salt Reactor?

A molten salt reactor (MSR) is a type of nuclear reactor that uses liquid fuel instead of the solid fuel rods used in conventional nuclear reactors. Using liquid fuel provides many advantages in safety and simplicity of design.

molten salt reactor

Generation IV roadmap published by US Department of Energy

The figure above shows one type of MSR design. As shown towards the left, the reactor contains “fuel salt”, which is fuel (such as uranium-235) dissolved in a mixture of molten fluoride salts. After a fission chain reaction starts in the reactor, the rate of fission stabilizes once the fuel salt reaches around 700 degrees Celsius. If the reactor gets hotter than 700 degrees, the resulting expansion of the fuel salt pushes some of the fuel into the circulation loop; this, in turn, decreases the fission rate (since fission cannot be maintained in the loop), causing the fuel to cool.

Unlike conventional reactors, the rate of fission in an MSR is inherently stable. Nonetheless, should the fuel salt become too hot to operate safely, a freeze plug (made of salts kept solid by a cooling fan) below the reactor will melt and the liquid content of the reactor will flow down into emergency dump tanks where it cannot continue to fission, thus allowing it to cool safely.

The control rods at the top of the reactor provide further control of the rate of fission by absorbing neutrons that might otherwise cause a fission reaction. A test in the 1960s showed that an MSR can continue to run safely without operator intervention even after intentional removal of a control rod during full operation.

The fuel salt is circulated through a heat exchanger where it is cooled by another molten salt loop that is free of radioactive fuel and fission products. The heat from this second loop can be used to do work, such as heating water to turn a steam turbine to generate electricity.

The fuel salt is also circulated through a chemical processing plant. This plant is used to both remove undesired fission products and add more fuel to the reactor.

Why Molten Salt Reactors?

MSRs are a huge departure from the conventional reactors most people are familiar with. Key features include:

Unparalleled safety

MSRs are walk-away safe. They cannot melt down like conventional reactors because they are, by design, already molten. An operator cannot even force an MSR to overheat. If for some reason an MSR were to overheat, the heat would melt a freeze-plug at the bottom of the reactor vessel and the liquid fuel salts would drain into the emergency cooling tanks where it would cool and solidify. No operator interaction nor even emergency backup power is needed for this to happen.

Even a human engineered breach (such as a terrorist attack) of an MSR cannot cause any significant release of radioactivity. The fuel salts for MSRs work at normal atmospheric pressure, so a breach of the reactor containment vessel would simply leak out the liquid fuel which would then solidify as it cooled. (By comparison, a breach of a conventional reactor leads to the highly pressurized and radioactive water coolant spewing into the atmosphere and potentially leaking into surrounding bodies of water.) Additionally, radioactive byproducts of fission like iodine-131, cesium-134 and cesium-137 (such as those released into the atmosphere and ocean by the Fukushima meltdown) are physically bound to the hardened coolant and do not leave the reactor site.

A solution to nuclear waste and stockpiles of plutonium


Conventional reactors use solid ceramic fuel rods containing enriched uranium. The fission of uranium in the fuel releases gases, such as xenon, which causes the fuel rods to crack. This cracking, in turn, makes it necessary to remove and replace the fuel rods well before most of the actinides (elements that remain radioactive for thousands of years) such as uranium have fissioned. This is why nuclear waste is radioactive for a very long time.

However, the actinides that remain in the cracked fuel rods are still an excellent source of fuel for reactors. France, for example, recycles the waste instead of burying it so that these actinides can be placed in new fuel rods and used to make more electricity.

Because MSRs use liquid fuel, the release of gases simply bubbles up, typically to an off-gas unit in the coolant loop (not shown in figure) where it can be removed. Since the liquid fuel is unaffected by the releases of gas, the fuel can be left in the reactor until almost all the actinides are fissioned, leaving only elements that are radioactive for a relatively short time (300 years or less). The result is that MSRs have no long term issue with regard to nuclear waste.

Not only do MSRs not have a long term waste issue, but they can also be used to dispose of current stockpiles of nuclear waste by using those stockpiles as fuel. Even stockpiles of plutonium can be disposed of this way. In fact, conventional reactors typically use only 3-to-5% of the available energy in their fuel rods before the fuel rods must be replaced due to cracking. MSRs can use up most of the rest of the available fuel in these rods to make electricity.

Note: The reason that conventional reactors can’t use up all actinides in their fuel rods is a bit more complex than what is described above. The neutrons in conventional reactors only move fast enough to cause enriched uranium to fission. Fissioning most of the actinides requires much faster-moving neutrons, which can be achieved in both MSRs and solid-fuel reactors, such as the GE Hitachi PRISM.

Abundant energy cheaper than energy from coal

How do we get all 7 billion people on the planet (perhaps 9 billion by 2050) to agree to drastically cut their CO2 emissions? The answer: make it in their immediate self-interest by providing cheap CO2-free energy — energy cheaper than they can get by burning coal.

MSRs can be made cheaply because they are simple compared to conventional reactors that have large, pressurized containment domes and many engineered (and not inherent), redundant safety systems. Having far fewer parts than conventional reactors, MSRs are inherently cheaper. This simplicity also allows MSRs to be small, which in turn makes them ideal for factory-based mass production (unlike conventional reactors). The cost efficiencies associated with mass production further drive down the cost and can make the ramp-up of nuclear power much faster.

Load following solar and wind power

A significant limitation of solar and wind power is their intermittency and unreliability. Currently these issues are dealt with in the U.S. by quickly firing-up natural gas plants to load follow solar and wind power. In other words, gas plants must ramp up quickly when power from wind and sun is scarce, and ramp down quickly when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing. Unfortunately, this is an inefficient way to burn natural gas, which can result in almost as much CO2 output from gas plants ramping up and down as from when they simply run continuously. And, of course, continued use of natural gas requires continued fracking. (Although many hope that a grid-level energy storage technology will someday negate the need to use natural gas plants, no economic energy storage is on the horizon.)

Unlike conventional nuclear reactors, the characteristics of MSRs make them good candidates for CO2-free load following of solar and wind power. This is because slowing down nuclear reactions results in an increased release of xenon gas. When conventional reactors do this, they must wait several days to restart while the xenon gas decays. This extra xenon is not a problem for MSRs because of their off-gas system, which allows immediate removal of xenon; hence, no delay is needed after ramping up or down an MSR.

Note that conventional reactors can be designed to load follow, but typically haven’t been for economic reasons (more profit can be made by running conventional reactors at full power for base load applications).

Abundant energy for millions of years

Although it is sometimes claimed that nuclear power is not sustainable, the truth is that there is enough nuclear fuel on earth to provide humanity with abundant energy for millions of years. MSRs can run on uranium and existing stockpiles of plutonium and nuclear waste. A variant of an MSR, a liquid fluoride thorium reactor (LFTR), will be able to use abundant thorium as a fuel. In addition, breeder reactors (which include some types of MSRs) make it possible to use uranium-238 as fuel, which makes up 93.3% of all natural uranium. Conventional reactors use only uranium-235, which makes up a mere 0.7% of natural uranium.

Replaces fossil fuels where wind and solar are problematic

MSR technology has potential far beyond generating electricity cheaply and without emitting CO2. For example, MSRs could be used to replace fossil fuels for high heat industrial processes such as water desalination and the production of cement and aluminum. (In the U.S., industrial processes account for a little over 5% of greenhouse gases.) MSRs can even provide high heat for cheap production of feedstock for synthetic, CO2-free liquid fuels.

MSRs could also be used to power large container ships, which currently run on diesel. The 15 largest of these ships produce as much air pollution every day as do all of the cars on the planet.

Weapons Proliferation Concerns

No nuclear reactor can be made proliferation proof, but MSRs have some significant advantages for proliferation resistance. First, the waste from MSRs is not useful for use in nuclear weapons since MSRs fission almost all actinides. Second, MSRs can use up existing stockpiles of nuclear waste from conventional reactors as well as existing stockpiles of plutonium, making these materials unavailable for use in nuclear weapons.

A Very Brief History of MSR Technology

A welder finishing up the Oak Ridge MSR over 40 years ago. Image: Public Domain

A welder finishing up the Oak Ridge MSR over 40 years ago. Image: Public Domain

MSRs were first developed in the U.S. in the 1950s for use in a nuclear-powered aircraft bomber (the idea being that the bomber could remain in the air indefinitely). Though a small experimental reactor ran successfully, the program was canceled when it became clear that in-air refueling of bombers was viable.

Under the supervision of Alvin Weinberg in the 1960s, Oak Ridge National Laboratory built an experimental MSR that ran successfully for four years. Weinberg realized early on that MSRs were the ideal type of reactor for civilian use because they cannot melt down. He was eventually fired by the Nixon administration for this advocacy.


The NB-36 made a number of flights in the 1950s carrying and operating nuclear reactors. The crew worked from a lead-shielded cockpit. Image: ASME

In the 2000s, then NASA engineer Kirk Sorenson, who was tasked with figuring out how to power a station on the moon, found that MSRs were the best solution. He also realized that MSRs are a great solution on earth. His tireless advocacy for MSRs has generated much interest.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the International Energy Agency, the United Nations, the Obama Administration and even over 70% of climate scientists agree that we must ramp up nuclear power if we are going succeed in dealing with climate change. Because of its exceptional safety and low cost, perhaps MSR technology is a nuclear technology that most everyone can embrace.

Corrections, additions and clarifications (January 21, 2019):

  • “cesium-137 and iodine-141” changed to: “iodine-131, cesium-134 and cesium-137”.
  • Added the following to section on load following: “Note that conventional reactors can be designed to load follow, but typically haven’t been for economic reasons (because more profit can be made by running conventional reactors at full power for base load applications).”
  • Added the following to section on using nuclear waste and plutonium as fuel: “Note: The reason that conventional reactors can’t use up all actinides in their fuel rods is a bit more complex than what is described above. The neutrons in conventional reactors only move fast enough to cause enriched uranium to fission. Fissioning most all of the actinides also requires much faster moving neutrons, which can be achieved in both MSRs and solid-fuel reactors, such as the GE Hitachi PRISM.
  • Changed sentence on breeder reactors to: “In addition, breeder reactors (which include some types of MSRs) make it possible to use uranium-238 as fuel, which makes up 93.3% of all natural uranium. Conventional reactors use only uranium-235, which makes up a mere 0.7% of natural uranium.”
  • Added the following sentence to “Replaces fossil fuels where wind and solar are problematic”: “MSRs can even provide high heat for cheap production of feed-stock for synthetic, CO2-free liquid fuels.”

This was an article contributed by ZME Science reader Stephen Williams. Are you an expert in your field? Would you like to share exciting technologies and ideas that could change the world to thousands of people? Contact us and we’ll definitely make it happen. 

123 thoughts on “How Molten Salt Reactors Might Spell a Nuclear Energy Revolution

  1. Christopher Calder

    The molten salt approach is the only sane way to build a fission nuclear reactor, as far as I know. Molten salt technology has competition from simplified hot fusion technology as being developed by Lockheed Martin and others, and Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR). For details Google *The Fusion Revolution*.

    Wind, solar and biofuels are a disaster, not a solution. I strongly support research and development into the three authentic potential fossil fuel replacements: molten salt fission, simplified hot fusion, and LENR. To understand exactly why the renewable energy fad is a hopelessly destructive fraud, please Google *The Renewable Energy Disaster*.

  2. K9Steve

    [ K9Steve = Stephen Williams ]

    Hi Robert! Thanks for the links. Your book, “Thorium: energy cheaper than coal” is excellent. I hope to follow-up this article with one detailing approaches of the various MSR startups. I wish you fantastic success on your ThorCon endeavor!

  3. WalterHorsting

    I am for MSR and a national crash program. Green Energy is ironic, vast industrialization of nature by wind farms and solar arrays is not green. The waste stream of green energy’s use of rare earth elements tosses away enough Thorium yearly that can power the entire planet using MSRs. Imagine powering the world by diverting some Green waste.

  4. Art Williams

    This is a wonderful and timely article. I’m especially happy to learn that there will be a follow-on article, as there is a handful of additional points worth making.

    First, because they operate at atmospheric pressure, MSRs are both cheaper and safer, as containment and plumbing are cheaper, and leaks are not driven into the surroundings.

    Second, unlike today’s pressurized-water reactors, MSRs produce no hydrogen. Thus, both of the phenomena we witnessed at Fukushima, meltdown and hydrogen explosions, are precluded. Note the important difference between “precluded” and less likely.

    Third, MSRs operate at significantly higher temperatures than today’s reactors, making their exploitation for process heat significantly more attractive. Two such processes of particular importance are desalination and ammonia synthesis. Ammonia burns to produce only air and water. Its ability to power cars and trucks has been demonstrated. Ammonia is arguably the best way to store energy (as dense hydrogen) for later use, especially for transportation. MSRs thus provide solutions to our most vexing problems.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the lack of MSR support from our govenment is scandalous. A process for licensing MSRs by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not exist.

    Articles like yours offer hope. Thanks.

  5. K9Steve

    Good points. Yes, lack of MSR support in the U.S. is scandalous. Our government should be investing heavily in these startups. As for the NRC, I don’t think a single startup will attempt to build their initial reactors in the U.S. even though it is U.S. technology because the NRC has no mechanism to handle new designs. Even GE Hitache’s PRISM, based on the U.S. Integral Fast Reactor program will not be built in the U.S., and it’s a Generation IV reactor.

  6. Rainer Klute

    Great article! Nevertheless I’d like to suggest some changes:

    You should also mention the German Dual Fluid Reactor (DFR), see It uses a molten salt as fuel and lead as coolant. And it is designed to work at temperatures above 1000 °C, enabling hydrogen chemistry and synfuel production in addition to electricity.

    “Cesium-137 and iodine-141” should really by “iodine-131, cesium-134 and cesium-137”.

    The reason that actinides are not used up in a lightwater reactor (LWR) is not only that the fuel is not long enough in the reactor, but that the slow (thermal) neutrons in the LWR cannot fission actinides with even mass numbers. This would be no different in a thermal MSR. Those actinides can only be fissioned in a fast neutron MSR like e.g. the DFR.

    Load following is no privilege of MSRs, depending on the reactor design. For example, Germany’s remaining nuclear reactor fleet is usually operating in load following mode to cope with wind and solar fluctuations, thus saving the same Energiewende that is scapping them. Will be “fun” to see what will happen when they are no longer online!

  7. K9Steve

    Reiner: Thanks for the corrections and additional information. Much appreciated. I will update the article as soon as I get a chance.

  8. Jag_Levak

    Minor point, but I would suggest striking the line about breeder reactors being able to extend the amount of nuclear fuel beyond that available in the Earth’s crust and oceans. Breeder reactors would only breed their fuel from thorium or uranium–which you have already mentioned as possible fuel sources. So by saying “in addition” that lends the impression that breeders would be capable of adding fuel beyond the thorium and uranium found in nature.

  9. Marcelo Pacheco

    The main reason water cooled, solid fuel reactors can’t fission minor actinides effectively (radioactive materials formed when Plutonium doesn’t fission) is they loose too many neutrons to hydrogen. That’s why heavy water reactors are far more efficient than light water ones. Molten salts go much further in neutron efficiency, they continuously remove the worst of the neutron poisons generated by fission (Xenon and Krypton) they are actively bubbled out of the reactor. This avoids a common condition in all solid fuel thermal reactors, which is they must be stuffed with extra fuel to overpower Xenon poisoning, which forces them to waste lots of neutrons by control rods action and boron injections.
    In contrast MSRs operate with very little extra fuel, which further increases safety margins and significantly increases fuel to energy generation.
    The simplest MSR designs (ORNL DMSR which is similar to Terrestrial IMSR) is able to achieve 6x the burnup of a water cooled reactor, since far more neutrons are used to convert U-238 into plutonium and fission them, instead of wasting them to Xenon/Krypton/inserted control rods/boron injections.
    Typical LWR makes just 50% as much fissile as they consume, while the IMSR makes 80%.
    On the safety side, the better explanation than (it can’t melt because its already molten) is that solid fuel reactors reach temperatures around 1800C in their core, due to Uranium Oxide relatively low thermal conductivity.
    In an MSR since the fuel is mixed with the coolant, the fuel temperature = coolant temperature, which increases thermal margins from 200C to over 800C, also since the coolant it far hotter in an MSR than in a solid fuel reactor its easier to cool it. So in an MSR the whole reactor is about 1000C cooler (down from 1800C to 800C) than the hottest spot on a solid fuel reactor. Finally the salt coolant thermal capacity is far higher than the water or gas coolant on a solid fuel reactor, it can absorb any temperature transients far more effectively.

  10. Scott

    Your first paragraph sounds intelligent but is negated by your sweeping statement that solar, wind and biomass are a disaster not a solution. There are 2.5 billion people in Africa and Asia without access to electricity. Simple off grid solar systems costing 10 cents per KWh to develop is happening today and is an appropriate solution for such communities. MSR may well be a good solution to avoid new coal station in energy hungry USA etc , and I enjoyed the article. I wonder however what the legal framework will be. It may be safer than conventional solid fuel reactors w.r.t. Risk of meltdown, but is there a security risk of dirty bombs with many smaller scale MSR facilities ?

  11. Christopher Calder

    Africa cannot afford costly and inefficient solar projects and don’t want them. Africa wants coal which is proven and cost effective. Of all the billions of dollars governments have wasted on solar projects, solar amount to a tiny and insignificant percentage of total world energy production. The total costs of solar are very high when you figure in the cost of batteries and the unreliability factor and intermittency. The best solution is Low Energy Nuclear Reaction (LENR), which is a nontoxic form of nuclear energy. Google *The Fusion Revolution* for details. This technology will kill off solar and wind and fission if it works as hoped, and so far the technology looks very promising and is being used right now to produce heat for a commercial process in a beta test.

  12. AN50

    Another advantage of using this technology is dual use generating sites. Here in dry southern California we need water. Desal is expensive, however, building desal plants (RO) in conjunction with MSRs means you could potentially run the MSR at full power 24/7 and instead of load following, load share. When demand is low, power is diverted to the RO plant to desal seawater. Making lots of cheap electricity during peak demand and lots of water when demand is low. A twofer that solves yet another environmental problem of water diversion.

  13. WanderingTattler

    Africa cannot afford costly and inefficient solar projects and don’t want them. Sorry, they do.

    Solar is and has been installed in Africa, especially South Africa. There are plans for Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Nigeria, Angola, Namibia, and more.

    RELIABLE solar power systems can help some of Africa’s poorest to cope with the continent’s chronic power shortages, United Kingdomís Minister of State for Africa, Grant Shapps, said in Lagos on Wednesday during a visit to Nigeria.

    Speaking during a tour of solar energy facilities backed by the UK government in Lagos, Shapps called for international backing of solar energy projects to speed up access across the continent.

    Small-scale microgrids are increasingly seen as the most promising way to bring electricity to the 1.3 billion people worldwide who currently lack it. In Kenya, an innovative solar company is using microgrids and smart meters to deliver power to villages deep in the African bush.

    Africa wants coal which is proven and cost effective. False. I have seen coal in Africa, and it is ugly and dirty and requires far more capital investment.

  14. WanderingTattler

    Oh, please – this movie has been debunked. Some time ago, a friend of mine (who believed the movie) sent an email with some of the salient points, and I was able off the top of my hat, debunk some of those points. Such as more CO2 comes from the ocean than anywhere else – when in fact oceans are a CO2 sink.

    If you believe this movie, you are either not a scientist, or thoroughly brain-washed or both. Have you ever looked for any sites that have debunked this movie, to see what they have to say. Or did you just swallow it hook, line and sinker.

  15. Christopher Calder

    “Settle science”? “Certainty”? Climatology is such a vast and poorly understood area of science with so many unknown variables that only the most arrogant people, as the author of this video, claim to have all the answers. This is not science at all. This is religion. And the claim that 97% of scientists believe that man made global warming is a serious threat is fraudulent.

    The charge that anyone who disagrees with any particular study on climate must be a paid agent of fossil fuel companies is just trash talk from a third rate mind. That is not how real science is supposed to be. These same people who brought us the greatest crime of the last 20 years, the biofuel scam, cannot explain why the Earth has not warmed in about 19 years despite the massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions brought about by their own biofuel farming plan, which has not only skyrocketed the cost of fertilizer, farmland, and food all over the world, it has accelerated erosion, deforestation, and water pollution. Save us from these two faced experts who kill millions worldwide through malnutrition and then claim that everything they say is “settled science”.

    My favorite video on Climate Change is this one, but it does not have much about solar energy in Africa, which was my reason for posting the other video.

  16. Christopher Calder

    Oceans are a CO2 sink. One point of the video was that when you heat up the oceans, more CO2 is released because warm water holds less CO2 than cold water. The Earth warmed first, then CO2 levels increased because of that warming. If C02 was a powerful greenhouse gas, then we could never have had ice ages when CO2 levels were 10 times higher than they are today. There is no theory of ice ages that everyone agrees upon. There is no “settled science” on how we got into ice ages and how we got out of them. Climatology is the definition of an *unsettled field of science*.

    Reducing CO2 and methane emissions is a good idea as a precaution against unknown results. LENR can help a little in that regard. No one knows our climate future. One thing is obvious; there is no way we can stop increasing atmospheric CO2 levels (totally) if we have 7.3 billion people on Earth. We have to eat, and farming releases tremendous amounts of CO2 and methane, as does house painting, industry, breathing, all human activity. Yet politicians claim that man made global warming will kill us all unless we vote for them. If they were honest, they would say that *we suspect greenhouse gas release could have negative future consequences and therefore we are going to kill off 90% of the human population in hopes of avoiding a possible but unprovable future disaster.*

  17. WanderingTattler

    Oceans are a CO2 sink. One point of the video was that when you heat up the oceans, more CO2 is released because warm water holds less CO2 than cold water. The Earth warmed first, then CO2 levels increased because of that warming.
    Absolutely correct. If you followed the video I posted – that is exactly what is stated using the same graph data that your movie misinterpreted.

    What was shown in the first part of the graph to the “800” year gap (which has now been reduced to “200” years), is CO2 being released thanks to the warming up at the end of the ice age – which ice age timing was determined ONLY by the earth’s orbit changing. CO2 was being released because of external factors that caused the temperature to rise.

    Since the end of the ice age, the climate has been stable for the last 10,000 years. The temperature and CO2 levels were stable as well – because there was no external force causing the temperature to change.

    And these levels remained stable until the start of the industrial revolution, where the levels of CO2 were changed by man’s actions.

    So we have two different scenarios a) temperature increase by external factors that resulted in the release of gases and b) increase in CO2 that is causing temperature increases.

    Your movie unfortunately did not understand that difference. I think even a sixth grader could understand that there are two different forcings in those two scenarios, and the temperature leading CO2 is ONLY APPLICABLE at the end of an ice age.

    Otherwise, where there is no change of orbit that forces warming of the planet, CO2 leads temperature. Explained simply, if there were no CO2 in the atmosphere, during interglacial periods, the planet would be cold and lifeless, with 200-300 ppm, the planet has a good climate, at 500 ppm, the planet becomes uninhabitable because of excess heat. And lastly, scientists have actually observed the effect of CO2 warming the planet. I will have to find that link.

    This is also explained at the link below and in the video I posted.

    The explanation is ridiculously simple and understandable, that it is surprising the “Swindle” got it wrong. Remember – since the end of the ice age, both temperature and CO2 have been stable until the start of the industrial revolution. If volcanoes spewing tons of SO2 into the air for a short period of time, can result in cooling of the planet, then it stands to reason that humans spewing CO2 for centuries, can also change the climate.

  18. Christopher Calder

    Humans have massively increased CO2 and methane release over the last 18 to 19 years, but there has been no global warming over the last 18 – 19 years, a fact the IPCC admitted but tried to hide from the public. Then politicians told NOAA to come up with proof that there has been global warming during the last 18 years and they did, and now NOAA is in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over their internal documents that may very well show that they were complying with a request for a predetermined conclusion based on politics and religious zeal, not on facts and science. If there were overwhelming proof that atmospheric CO2 levels drive Earth temperatures, there would be no need to alter data and to write up computer programs that distort reality. Just one example of many linked below.

    We should reduce greenhouse gas emissions as a precaution, but this hysterical distortion of science fact to promote political causes is unforgivable. People say only socialism can save us from global warming. We all need to become gruel eating vegans to survive. We need to destroy our economy with more mandates for renewable energy schemes that don’t work, and for biofuels that kill people in the millions. This is insanity, not science.

    The human race faces many threats, and global warming due to atmospheric CO2 levels is not the greatest or most proven. Genetic engineering of bacteria and algae to make biofuels is a major threat, as is genetic terrorism and a 12 Monkeys scenario of a mad “green” scientist wiping out the human race to save nature. Volcanic activity could wipe us out at any moment and is overdue. War can kill us all, yet we are spending billions on military operations that make war more dangerous and certain. I call for mental balance and the scientific method, not hysteria –

  19. Jens Stubbe

    Beats me why the author picks a fight with renewables. Wind is significantly cheaper than any other form of electricity generation in USA and on stable trajectory to become still cheaper. The ever lowering cost is accompanied by an ever increasing capacity factor.

    The nonsense about the peak power plants required to stabilize the grid on account of wind does not improve the argument for MSR technology. Besides all larger power plants scram on occasion so even if MSR plants of the future from a theoretical point of view could perform load following production the first many MSR’s would newer do it and MSR’s will require back up on an indeterminable timescale.

    Wind is nearing the price point where electricity from wind and overly abundant CO2 will become the cheapest raw materials for the petrochemical industry. In that case wind would not only power the grid but would also keep fossil fuels permanently underground and as a side effect there will be a constant over provision of wind power on the grid as the Synfuel plants performs the regulation of electricity supply and demand.

    Solar is also becoming cheaper at an astonishing pace and will continue to do so, which means that the competitive space when MSR’s perhaps arrive will be very tough but less us hope that MSR’s can make it – just being cheaper than coal does not make it.

  20. K9Steve

    Beats me, Jen, why you think the author has picked a fight with renewables. You write that the article includes “nonsense about the peak power plants required to stabilize the grid on account of wind.” How about you back up your claim? Can you at least provide an example of where demand does not need to be met when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining?

    It would also be helpful if you could back up your clams about the supposed cheapness of wind and solar. A look at the lastest EIA forecast does not back up your claim (let alone that your claim that wind is already cheaper):

    I’ve been watching the poster child of the renewables-only strategy–Germany–for some time now. How is it that after 15 years and 100s of billions of Euros Germany gets a mere 16% of its electricity from solar and wind–that’s a mere 3.3% of Germany’s primary energy. In the same amount of time, France was able to get to 80% CO2-free electricity from nuclear power (95% CO2-free when paired with hydro).

    Talk is cheap. Show your stuff.

  21. K9Steve

    Also note that a direct comparison of dispatchable and non-dispatchable electricity sources is very misleading. As the EIA notes (see previous reference):

    “A related factor is the capacity value, which depends on both the existing capacity mix and load characteristics in a region. Since load must be balanced on a continuous basis, units whose output can be varied to follow demand (dispatchable technologies) generally have more value to a system than less flexible units (non-dispatchable technologies), or those whose operation is tied to the availability of an intermittent resource. The LCOE values for dispatchable and nondispatchable technologies are listed separately in the tables, because caution should be used when comparing them to one another.”

  22. JimNtexas

    “Wind is significantly cheaper than any other form of electricity generation in USA”

    I don’t think that is really correct. Wind here in Texas is in fact so cheap that sometimes the wind farms pay grid users to take it! But that is ONLY because of the huge subsidy that wind farms receive. Wind power is really the most expensive form of power generation, even before you account for the horrible enviromental damage they cause.

    Solar power makes some sense, but it’s still far more costly than coal.

  23. American System

    The most important issue will always be the 700 ·C operating temperature provides CO2 free process heat,, the electric power generation and H2O desalination aspects will be considered convenient byproducts. ;-)

  24. Brian

    The only prototype salt reactor almost blew up. Nuclear blew up. Liquid and gas reactors unpredictably concentrate isotopes.

    “We discovered a highly hazardous situation in 1994,” Rushton says. “The uranium in the charcoal beds was in an unfavorable geometry that could have led to a chain reaction. If the system had burped, the contamination would have been dispersed over a wide area.

    “The more studies we did, the more they showed that it could happen. There was a significant potential for disaster.”

    “If we had just plunged in, we could have had an explosion.

    Ask yourself this: why do supposedly safe MSR have an emergency drain plug?

    Solar sand wind are the miracle energy source we have been looking for. already available cheaper by 4 times than nuclear and available cheaper than fossils as well.

  25. Brian

    what nonsense. Did you know the fossils companies spend billions of dollar on pr and influence, like on you, right?

  26. Brian

    The only MSR prototype almost exploded cause liquid cores concentrate isotopes in unexpected and dangerous ways. Wee my comment sort by newest. Real infomercial nuclear cost 4 times available solar and takes 12 years average to install, at which point solar will be available 16 times cheaper.

    Fusion is a fantasy useful for funding nuclear bomb computer code tests. Tell us all about the fusions first wall and those pesky neutrons.

  27. Christopher Calder

    Yet another giant solar energy company subsidized by American taxpayers, Abengoa, has gone bankrupt, thus adding to our national debt. It is impossible to replace the reliable high energy density of fossil fuels with solar schemes, windmills, and Earth starving biofuels. The only authentic replacement possible for fossil fuels is some form of safe nuclear power, which has the highest energy density of all possible sources. Several companies have excellent new small MSR designs that can be built on assembly lines so that costs are low and setup time is fast. People lie about the cost of solar by stating statistics of solar output under ideal conditions, as if the Sun shone 24 hours a day, it never gets cloudy, you magically do not need storage. The cost of solar power at night is what? Only a solution that produces reliable energy 24-7-365 will work, and costs should be less that 5 cents per kilowatt hour. You cannot get solar for anything like that in the real world. Solar helped bankrupt Spain and Greece, and Germany’s solar cells have a average capacity factor of under 10%. Solar is a costly fantasy that only increase the price of energy, increases budget deficits, and increase unemployment. The National Research Council found that solar and wind schemes reduce CO2 emissions to such a tiny extent they are not worth subsidizing. The renewable energy fad is a false religion that amounts to a bandwagon to hell. Google *The Renewable Energy Disaster*.

  28. Brian

    Solar is doubling every 2 years and most installs are solar, so what if solar pv companies go bankrupt, that is business.

    It’s nuclear that has bankrupted whole utilities. Even with billion in gov breaks for only 70 year. Nuclear can’t run one second without gov protection from liability.

    Germany and Denmark have the two most reliable grids on the planet and gov over 80% and 140% without failing. They export electricity and make money doing it.

    It’s nuclear that is the gov welfare queen.

    Solar and wind are available cheaper than fossils and 4 times cheaper than nuclear before gov breaks.

    Baseload plants hate to throttle and thus actually need more reserve load following and peak energy than a fully solar and wind system need for gap filling.
    Nuclear is the deadly fantasy, short of fuel in ten years too.
    “As we look to the future, presently known resources
    fall short of demand.”
    Fig 16 show the shortfall in 2025 and it going 1/4 of that 2050
    fig 20 also show shortfall.

    Solar and wind are carbon neutral or negative in a solar wind and waste to fuels system.

    Solar did not bankrupt Greece, bankers did. The fossils and nuclear folks bought the gov and attacked solar because it was costing them market.

    It’s too late, solar and wind are the future, fossils and nuclear are being phased out. Corruption of govs will slow that, but not stop it.

  29. Christopher Calder

    I have consulted with MSR experts and they say the incident you mention never happened and the premise is incorrect. If you have any proof, please post a source. The official government records do not show anything like that. Many people around the world have died installing and repairing solar panels and wind turbines, however. No one died or was injured because of the MSR project in the 1970s. All energy systems have risks. Why take risks for energy systems that do not work?

  30. Brian

    These pro nuclear folks are hilarious, sorry. They have consulted with experts, they don’t link to, who say it never happened.

    Yes it did.

    “We discovered a highly hazardous situation in 1994,” Rushton says. “The uranium in the charcoal beds was in an unfavorable geometry that could have led to a chain reaction. If the system had burped, the contamination would have been dispersed over a wide area.

    “The more studies we did, the more they showed that it could happen. There was a significant potential for disaster.”

    “If we had just plunged in, we could have had an explosion.

    BTW it did not include the reprocessing system, and was the most expensive cleanup in history.


    expansion of the molten salt will put pressure on the fuel loops that might cause a rupture or explosion. REMEMBER- anything that can go wrong will go wrong! There's no reason to risk nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism now that solar is much cheaper than nuclear.


    How are wind and solar a disaster? Do you have stock in utilities or oil companies? They are a bonanza for people getting involved in those industries. There are projections solar will get 5 times cheaper than it is now! Why does it bother you if people have solar panels on their houses?

  33. Christopher Calder

    If people want to put solar panels on their roof, then fine, but let them pay the bill 100% themselves, not taxpayers. If you have an off-grid cabin in the woods, solar is great for a few LED light bulbs. Solar is inherently inefficient and limited because it is unreliable, intermittent, and captures very weak and diffuse energy. The only efficient solar scheme is hydroelectric power, which runs on sun-power which creates rain through the evaporation of water. For large scale energy production you need HIGH ENERGY DENSITY. Low energy density schemes do more damage than good and are very expensive. You need monster sized machines to collect diffuse energy and those machines cost a lot of money and have a large ecological footprint. Add the cost of batteries or other energy storage systems and the whole scheme becomes a costly bad joke. Google *The Fusion Revolution" for the real HIGH ENERGY DENSITY replacement for fossil fuels.


    I applied for a grant solicitation put out by the New Energy Foundation
    and they never got back. I sent them a very detailed application with a
    budget from a highly respected world class plasma physics lab and they
    never replied to my application or e-mails after. Blame the New Energy
    Foundation for the lack of working LENR.

  35. Brian

    Pure fantasy. That ORNL prototype MSR almost blew up*. It was also the most expensive decommissioning in history. Why do you think they need an emergency drain plug? And what happen if it gets clogged? Molten cores will selectively deposit isotopes and concentrate them in bad places.

    Solar, wind and fuels from wastes are the miracle we have been waiting for. Stop wasting time and money on deadly nuclear power. Solar and wind are available 1/4 the cost of nuclear. Real commercial nuclear, which will be short of fuel in ten years. Uranium and thorium mining and wastes are what every pro nuclear pr person deliberately ignores.

    *“We discovered a highly hazardous situation in 1994,” Rushton says. “The uranium in the charcoal beds was in an unfavorable geometry that could have led to a chain reaction. If the system had burped, the contamination would have been dispersed over a wide area.
    “The more studies we did, the more they showed that it could happen. There was a significant potential for disaster.”

    There is half as much thorium RAR as uranium.

    This article is just more pro nuclear pr. Nuclear power is killing millions of people with cancers and other diseases, but the industry denies LNT. The same chart that claims lowest deaths from nuclear, skips mining, and blames solar and wind for coal deaths.

    * Not the answer, and waste still need million year storage. great critique of LFTR an nuke power in general too expensive!

    And here is an article on the MANY technical problems yet to be solved to build a LFTR

    proof if you needed it that LFTR reactors are not ready to go:

  36. Gallilao

    Are you suggesting that LENR research is currently experimenting with cold fusion?

  37. Gallilao

    Thanks for the info!

    It has been years since I looked at this stuff. I didn't know people where still pursuing it but I see they are still going about things the wrong way.

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    There's big money in wind farms. The energy economy is changing and those who keep up are benefiting. There are now more jobs in solar and wind than in the petroleum energy industry. Besides reversing greenhouse warming, we and our descendants will enjoy cleaner air and water.

  40. JimNtexas

    When was the last time the gas station paid you to pump gas? Wind farms here in Texas are so highly subsidized that they can "sell" wind power at a negative price because their subsidizes are so high.

    Last time I checked oil products generate a lot of tax revenue to the government. No so wind and solar.


    whats the most efficient fuel cell? Howe much energy can it make from a given amount hydrogen? Can it beat batteries? The biggest problems are cointo9in8ing it, delivering it and converting it to electricity. Can batteries compare?

    There are some amazingly efficient fuel cells but they will cost too ,much to manufacture and s4ell.

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  43. AN50

    Solar and wind are low density unreliable sources. You cannot sustain an industrial civilization on them, its pure fantasy. What got us here today, from subsistence level drudgery is high density energy in the form of fossil fuels. Pandering to people's fear over nuclear is a disease that will kill billions of humans. Fossils will run out and you want us to return to the days when all energy was unreliable and low density.

    It would do you good to do better research and get a better education in nuclear physics and biology. Stop pandering.

  44. Brian

    Existing solar panels can get more energy from the average rooftop and than the average home uses. Distributed power reduces grid load. Centralize big nuclear and coal strain the grid and lose power along the way. Nuclear fuel rods high energy density, but the mining and wastes are coal energy density levels. Solar over 100 times more energy production per mass of solar panel.

    Germany and Denmark have the most reliable grids on earth, 10 times less outages than the USA.

    Reliable is not about the individual generating sources, it's about the system.

    Germany got near 100% and Denmark 140% of their electricity peak from renewable and the grid did just fine.

    Folks are LEAVING the USA for more reliable power in Germany. aluminum leaving usa new one built in Germany.

    PR is brain washing. The nuclear power industry dominates out gov agencies with PR agencies like the IAEA and the DOE, formerly known as the Atomic Energy Commissions and still 90% nuclear.

  45. ddbb

    They only pay citizens intermittently and for brief windows.. also, they're not paying substantial amounts of cash. They would not do this if they did not have to. It is a byproduct of the product. I believe I saw a documentary making the claims that you are now but after some research, I found that they stretched many facts to support their preconceived notions.

  46. John Berndt

    I agree , with its very pitiful energy density it will never replace carbon fuels. People aren't going to bankrupt themselves for renewables. You have to put solar panels and windmills over square many square miles of land to replace one nuclear or fossil fuel plant.


    Solar and wind offer other advantages that make the subsidies worth it. Lack of nuclear weapons proliferation and eliminating the possibility that terrorists will crash planes into nuclear plants or steal their fissionable material for dirty bombs or nuclear bombs.

  48. John Berndt

    Every country who tried to make a nuke succeeded. The cheapest is way is to make plutonium from a conventional reactor. Unless we are willing to bomb every nuclear reactor in the country we are worried about they will succeed. The MSR is an expensive way of making a bomb because it takes much more uranium to make it.
    If a terrorist crashes a plane into a plant it will crunch up like an aluminum can doing no damage to the plant. A hollow metal tube crashing into concrete is not going to get you very far and stealing fissionable material from a plant is much harder than the press makes out, unless it goes off perfectly you are dead.


    Also I disagree with your analysis of what a speeding jumbo jet can do to a nuclear power plant.

  50. John Berndt

    Except we know what will happen when a speeding jumbo jet hits a nuclear plant. We have tested it by slamming said jets into concrete walls the same thickness. They crumple up like a tin can. It is a hollow metal tube smashing concrete walls measured in feet of thickness.


    The assumed safety of those molten salt reactors might make it tempting to skimp on, or do away with the concrete shells. How much shock was transferred from the impacted concrete walls to the equipment inside? Was there a real reactor inside the test tgfcailtiy?

  52. John Berndt

    The shock was completely absorbed, it had as much effect as an aluminum can has on heavy rubber boots when you stomp on it. The Twin Towers didn't fall from the impact of the planes, they fell because the jet fuel weakened the steel frame when the fuel burned. Concrete doesn't weaken except at much higher temperatures.

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  56. Marcelo Pacheco

    It didn't blew up (obviously). It also didn't almost blew up. You're just following the usual anti nuclear radical script of twisting any information you find to create negative nuclear sentiments.
    The MSRE was tested for 6000hrs (250 days), without a single safety issue.
    It was abruptly shutdown cause Milt Shaw, the White House nuclear guy decided all money should go to plutonium (fast) breeder research. Oak Ridge was using 1 or 2% of the fast breeder research funding. They then asked for US$ 50k which was like a half a million US$ in today's money to properly decommission the reactor, that was denied. They had to leave the reactor pretty much as it was for 40+ years.
    Oak Ridge continued to do theoretical MSR design work on and off until today. They are still strongly pro MSR. If what you claim were remotely true, they would have abandoned it. Plus, there are dozens of MSR efforts worldwide. Nobody sees that single web post as any evidence of something dangerous. Yet you translate that to "almost blew up".
    You're just wrong.
    PROVE YOUR ASSERTIONS. Otherwise I have to conclude you're being paid by coal/natural gas interests to smear nuclear power safety FACTS, which are WAY better than any fossil fuel safety FACTS.

  57. Marcelo Pacheco

    Germany's emissions are up since they shutdown their nuclear reactors, even with all the solar and wind in their grid. The goal must be lower emissions. So far they're failing at that.
    Battery storage is still way too expensive for large countries powered by coal, natural gas or nuclear. Solar+Battery is already cheaper than diesel or other oil fuel electricity generation. Germany is proof that going to solar+wind with haste = substantial hikes in electricity prices and increased emissions. Germany also uses this electricity plan to hide their high emissions for gasoline and diesel due to unlimited speeds in autobahns. If they were serious about reducing emissions they would have a nationwide max speed. Even 160km/h (100mph) would be much better than as is.
    Germany's grid is reliable cause they still burn a LOT of COAL and natural gas. Adding solar + wind doesn't make your grid clean. Lowering emissions and specially reducing coal consumption is a clean grid.
    Oh and Diesel Gate hails from Germany.
    The PR lies are all yours.
    Nuclear isn't killing people. Anti nuclear propaganda did lead Japan to do a hasty evac from Fukushima that killed hundreds of elderly.

  58. Marcelo Pacheco

    I fell for this con job for 3 years. Patiently waiting for a single cold fusion product. Cheerleading cold fusion. If cold fusion = cheap heat (even cheap low grade/low temp heat) then we would have a single research lab in the world heated with cold fusion. No such thing. Its a con job.
    This is the same as solar roadways, and extreme pro solar/anti nuclear cheerleading. Its unscientifical.

  59. Marcelo Pacheco

    Molten Salts don't expand like water until they heat above 1400C or close to boiling.
    But since the fuel and the coolant is mixed in together, its so much easier to cool an MSR than a solid fuel reactor.
    In a Solid fuel / Water cooled reactor the hottest spots in the fuel reach 1800C, while the coolant can't go over 300C. Cooling 300C core water with 30C outside water is much HARDER than cooling 700C molten salt+fuel with the same 30C water (keeping it below 700C while the water cooled reactor core water must be kept below 300C or the hottest fuel spots melts).
    700C temperature limit is cause the reactor will get some damage above that, but if you consider the reactor a total loss, the coolant+fuel could go up to 1400C without melting the reactor walls. Above 1400C the salt goes from molten to boiling and then there's trouble.
    Plus molten salts have much higher temperature coefficients (its take a lot more heat to warm 1Kg salt by 1C than than 1Kg of water, several times more). Proof is cheaper salts are used in solar concentrated power plants to store heat during the day to keep producing power after the sun goes down / flatten power production during rain or heavy clouds.

    Plus cause they're a fluid, MSRs can have overflow areas like cars have, normally filled with air, their usual purpose is to take expansion if total fuel+coolant inventory due to fission product formation and allowing fuel top offs to require removing nothing from the reactor. So any thermal expansion is handled without problems.

    The most basic MSR reactor uses 1/6th as much fuel as a regular reactor per kWh produced. The other way of thinking about it is current uranium mining is enough to replace every coal/natural gas/oil/traditional nuclear reactor with an MSR burner while using existing Uranium mining and enrichment facilities (current nuclear is about 1/6th of worldwide electricity generation).

  60. Brian

    Read the links. the very people who worked on it sad it almost blew up.

    Liquid "cores" can concentrate isotopes in eddies and spots till they reach critical density. This has happened repeatedly in the the processing of nuclear wastes.

    The MSR was the most expensive decommissioning in history.

    They never built the reprocessing unit to remove the "poisons" (they slow or stop the reactions) from the system, that is necessary for a commercial system.

    Who actually thinks "“The uranium in the charcoal beds was in an unfavorable geometry that could have led to a chain reaction. If the system had burped, the contamination would have been dispersed over a wide area." does not translate into it almost blew up? seriously?

  61. Gallilao

    I should think you would be more disillusioned and more irate with "Hot" fusion. After all, they have been promising hot fusion, for many times as long.

    But I understand your frustration. I am old and running out of time and everything but I am working on it. A lack of time and resources however means I have to do everything myself, which in turn, further slows things down.

    But I'm workin' on it!

  62. Marcelo Pacheco

    Are you a nuclear engineer or nuclear physicist ?
    Cold fusion can only be explained with changes in nuclear physics.
    There's this thing called the coulomb barrier where pushing two atoms close enough together to fuse requires crazy energy at the microscopic scale. And we have no solution to squeeze just 2 or just 1000 atoms together using macroscopic tools.
    I forgot to explain that when I started cheerleading cold fusion I knew next to nothing about nuclear engineering. I did have 2 years worth of college engineering basic curriculum classes. Since Fukushima I got really pissed at the lunatic anti nuclear activists saying non sense about the accident on CNN so I decided to learn what I could about nuclear engineering as long as I didn't have to go back to college.
    Cold Fusion is impossible. It has to be hot fusion.
    If you remove all electrons from deuterium or hydrogen, we know how to fuse them together using manageable energy levels, but we don't know how to generate more energy than we put in.
    People have been working on this for 20+ years. I don't require electricity production. Just producing low grade heat (70+C) to heat up a building (with a small electric bill). If cold fusion were possible, someone would have achieved that already.


    There were and are very heavy subsidies for the petroleum industry. The growing solar and wind industries should be subsidized too. A Swiss company has started manufacturing CPV home solar panels that make twice as much electricity per unit area than current PV panels. A regulate sized house can go off the grid of the entire roof was covered.

  64. Marcelo Pacheco

    Oh charts by cleantechnica the same site that banned me cause they didn't like my opinions.
    This chart says NOTHING about emissions, just about market share of several types of generation in TWh produced. It misses the changes in thermal efficiencies of shifting from baseload thermal to peaking thermal (increasing emissions / TWh produced).

    Even if that chart is truthful, notice it takes more renewables increase to a lower CO2 reduction.
    That's cause you're shifting baseload fossil plants (>60% thermal efficiency) with peaking plants (<35% thermal efficiency).
    Germany is out of pumped hydro capacity. Its not exporting energy from the goodness of their hearts. Its pushing unreliable solar+wind electricity when they're over producing.
    If its neighbours go high solar+wind like Germany, they will tends to overproduce from solar at nearly the same time. And there will be an aggressive throttling of renewables which will put a hard limit at renewable production (which has effectively already happened in Germany).

    This only works because France and Poland aren't adopting solar+wind aggressively.

  65. Brian

    Hey, we share something. Bob Wallace banned me for calling him a superciliousness petty dedicator. He is. It shows the fossils and nuclear going down one for one because of renewable. The charts show you how solar pv has eliminated the inefficiency of peaker plants fuel use. nearly 100%. Germany is a net electricity exporter. Where do you get all those fake news? Summer AC use IS PEAK!!!!! Yeah, solar is not useless in winter, but it's not it's strong point. SO??????? CSP COSTS TOO MUCH AND FRIES BIRDS. you were JUST arguing that a few comment ago. Pick a story and stick to it.

    Germany is SAVING MONEY because of their push for renewables. aluminum leaving usa new one built in Germany.

    the German grid is ten times more reliable than the USA grid.


  66. Marcelo Pacheco

    Brian I'm quite different from most people here, cause the overwhelming majority has their pet favourites they play for. I want to avoid climate change deaths/wars/miserable living.
    So I'm on the anything that doesn't burn fossil fuel is good team. I respect people like James Hansen, PhD of climatology that said outright either we adopt every non fossil generation or we won't prevent climate change. So I say Germany killing nuclear is bad to avoid climate change. Kill Coal and Lignite instead !
    If all CSP does is kill a few birds, I'm fine with it. Oh and Germany has a ton of CSP in that mix !
    Plus I can't respect the freak response from Fukushima on a country that never gets Tsunamis and I never heard from a Germany earthquake. The whole excuse to 100% nuclear retirement in Germany can only be explained by the green party being too powerful and essentially saying they won't vote pro anything unless their pet agenda is approved (end of everything nuclear), Germany rarely elects an outright majority on any political party to make the chancellor.
    You still don't get my point.
    Germany needs to export over production in unpredictable periods cause its cheaper than throttling their plants. They produce over 100% of instant demand from solar in the best summer days at 2PM, but that's less than 25% of yearly power demands. But their neighbours can only take so much power in if its unpredictable. This drives the per MWh revenues from those exports down. France can't retire nuclear reactors to use Germany's solar cause they need those to export power back in critical times when Germany needs it.
    They can't even increase solar by a third without increasing those exports by a lot, and the financial return from those exports is far less than what net metering pays for roof top producers. The math of continuing to increase production is a mess.
    Oh, and lets talk Wind in the UK. London has a huge wind farm near London. A few years ago they had a windless spell in the middle of winter, lasted two weeks. It took France nuclear power to save them from power outages. I want my lights on at all times !
    Tesla Power Wall helps with that hugely.
    Love the Tesla Power Pack too.
    I'm not changing the message because my tent of energy sources I'm pro is huge. But everything has advantages and disadvantages.

  67. Marcelo Pacheco

    An MSR that has 600C outlet + an electricity turbine can do real time desal with little lost electricity production. When a 600C goes through a turbine, the turbine output is still above 200C. You can boil sea water just to do the first stage of cooling for free.
    As long as the MSR turbine doesn't use a low pressure turbine like the big PWR/BWR reactors use, this works. Low pressure turbines are big, cost of fortune and their economic advantage is much less when your outlet is 600C instead of 250C.
    When the turbine inlet is 250C, the outlet is a bit cold to still boil water through a heat exchanger.
    Of course you can still divert steam directly to desal even more. Your idea is good anyhow.
    I'm also hopeful about processes like:
    Ethanol is the perfect additive to Gasoline. 85% Gasoline + 15% etanol reduces pollution, increases fossil engine max HP, and we already have off the shelf mass produced engines that can run on any combination of ethanol and gasoline, all the way from 100% gasoline to 100% ethanol.
    Hopefully we can build this up faster than Lithium Ion EVs, and mass migrate all existing cars to fossil free combustion. This is particularly interesting for big trucks and busses.

  68. Gallilao

    "If cold fusion were possible, someone would have achieved that already." – How many times did Edison have to test filaments before he found one that would work in a light-bulb?………….. Everything in its own time.

    Before they can produce cold fusion, they have to understand subatomic structure and they have a long way to go.

    I am glad to hear that you are self-taught, that should ensure that you have a much better understanding than most and probably have a flexible and creative mind.

    That said, would you agree with the premise that both nuclear fusion and nuclear fission, are reversible processes and as a matter of fact, are the opposites of each other?

  69. Marcelo Pacheco

    Sure they are reversible processes. But it takes a star going nova to make Uranium and Thorium from iron and carbon like elements, and we don't quite have examples of fissioning helium back into hydrogen or iron back into carbon.
    Having the ability to read books explaining complex concepts without a teacher doesn't allow me to ignore established nuclear physics.
    I'm open to anybody achieving success doing something completely innovative and dislodging entrenched interests.
    But that doesn't make me believe for instance that solar roadways can ever work. Basic materials engineering prove it can't work, Thunderf00t explained it quite well. He's got a PhD, I don't and what he says makes sense.
    My issue with cold fusion is its right at the edge of a scientist claiming success and only his buddies able to reproduce it, while the majority of mainstream scientists can't. Hence my expectation that for 8 years after Leonardo Rossi made his claims, he and nobody else made a demonstration that lasted long enough and with high enough power to stand on its on (physics theories be damned).
    Big claims require extraordinary proof. I'm just waiting for the proof.
    I hope you (or others) achieve success. But I'm not expecting anybody to.

  70. Gallilao

    A very wise attitude! It is my contention that you should question everything and accept nothing on face value, until such time as you are able to PROVE IT, to yourself. But understand that I deal in data and fact and am completely indifferent to political views and attitudes.

    You are absolutely right about Rossi too, he is the E-CAT thing, isn't he? Anyway, they are probably just obscure chemical reactions and if not, then they are not worth the effort.

    If my understanding of subatomic structure is correct, then cold fusion will be almost, infinitely scalable and will require virtually no energy input. It will in fact, require energy extraction, which would be the logical route, if we believe that fission and fusion are transmutable.

  71. AN50

    Good comments. On the MSR, one of its big benefits is its low op pressure, making it far safer than the HP LWRs. There is always a trade off though. As for the turbine section, I believe all the designs I have seen run the liquid salt through exhangers only, sometimes in a double loop configuration so that the heat given up to the water/steam loop is two exchanges away from the salt/fuel mix. Of course low pressure and high temp do create problems of plate out in the exchangers, something that is being addressed.

    I like the ethanol equation, mainly because fossil fuels are finite even it they have a higher energy density and we need to have some sort of replacement plan. Mine is overpopulate the planet with MSRs, using the cheap electricity to produce hydrocarbon fuels through CO2 sequestration. Its just a high capacity version of plant life that doesn't depend on climate or solar radiation. Mother nature already figured it out, all we need to do is adapt her formula for our needs.

  72. Marcelo Pacheco

    Plate out is due to fuel/fission products circulating with the fuel. Temperature/pressure isn't the issue. Fission products contain almost half of the periodic table. All it takes is one problematic element.
    The one reactor design that seems to be farther along is IMSR from Terrestrial. They plan on 7 year operating cycles, after which they cool down the reactors for another 7 years in place then another up to 28 years (up to 4 cycles) in backup slots. Reactors sites will have dual operating slots to enable that cooling without moving the reactor.

    This allows the reactor certification to be much easier (only need to prove the reactor can handle 7 years of irradiation) and drastically reduces issues with transporting a reactor with mildly radioactive spots (like the graphite moderator) back to the factory.
    With time they might be able to increase reactor operating life and perhaps reduce the cool down to ship back to factory to a single extra operating cycle.
    It will be first certified in Canada where the CNSC is used a performance model for small/modular reactors (SMR). The NRC only accepts a prescriptive model which will be insanely expensive as the NRC would have to learn everything in practice there is to learn about MSRs so they can write their view of how MSR safety should be, but somebody has to pay for that !

  73. AN50

    It is unfortunate, that we (the U.S.) the inventor of this technology are allowing ourselves to be last to the table, by regulatory fiat. It's not that regulations, in and of themselves are bad, but how we misuse them, often to our own peril and at counterpurposes to their intent.

  74. Marcelo Pacheco

    Lets remind ourselves that we might have no nuclear power if it wasn't for WWII and the cold war. WWII forced US to develop uranium enrichment, plutonium production (which mandated the invention of the first nuclear reactors).
    Then the Cold War required nuclear powered subs so mutually assured destruction was a sure thing, no matter how many nukes the Ruskies had.
    Modern PWR/BWR reactors are incremental improvements over the very first reactor in the USS nautilus and Nimitz class bigger ones.
    Modern corporations have little interests in investing on R&D that will give them limited returns 20 years into the future. Long term investments are only made in things like Big Oil fields (that will produce a lot of it), extremely profitable drugs (that get 20 years exclusive sales due to patents), stuff like that.
    Corporations are about profit. Safety comes last.
    The NRC mandated prescribed safety led to AP1000 and ESBWR.
    The NRC wants to keep this. They don't want to even open an exception for the first molten salt reactor. Not even a medium MSR.
    This create a chicken egg problem. Who will spend up to US$ 100 million in NRC fees so they can create MSR regs and invalidate your design ?
    The NRC monster the US government created really leaves two logical solutions.
    1 – The DOE pays 90% of NRC costs for the first MSR.
    2 – MSRs are designed outside the USA, in a country that is really 100% independent of the NRC like China or Russia, or a country that already made the commitment that SMRs will use a performance model (Canada's CNSC) where they only set the safety requirements and allow the vendor to prove they meet those targets, and are genuinely interested in helping the first SMRs (Small/Modular/Reactors) to get to market.

    The US has a split model that makes the whole thing complicated. The DOE is supposed to promote nuclear R&D. The NRC sole concern is safety. Except the NRC is known to get absolutely carried away, like mandating nuclear tsunami defenses for all reactors operating in the US, including those 1000 miles away from the ocean, that's just one out of many examples.

    There's only one solution to the NRC, it starts with a million signatures demanding congress deeply reforms it. Half of the regulations are sane, cost effective, good. The other half is filled with some good intentions that cost way too much and some that sound like somebody that joined the NRC because they are dead set at shutting down every nuclear reactor in the world by making them uncompetitive. Except the NRC system is unwilling to purge/replace the bad ones, since nuclear costs are not a true concern to them.

  75. TimS

    Pro-renewable cultists will never learn the difference between fantasy and reality.
    "you can’t simply add renewables to the grid in large volumes and think that’s the end of the story":
    "solar fluctuates with weather and the daily cycle, wind fluctuates with the wind"
    "Turns out wind and solar have a secret friend: Natural gas"

  76. John Berndt

    So it might take a half a bizzilion acres to make an erg of energy instead a bizzillion, I can hardly wait. BTW when you add in all the various excise taxes and gasoline taxes the oil industry is one of the most heavily taxed industries.

  77. jon

    The only way to go we don't have a choice but to burn up that waste that our past generation made for us. So we need to cut that out which it would take 50 years or more to burn that waste we need to start addressing as fast as we can. Save Trillion in storing it and it can at least be used and then put the rest in the Yukon Mountain for the next 200 if need be but when the waste is starting to be gone. I figure someone would come up with a way to use that also. But 25000 plus year needs to start being cut into now.Free American Gun Association T-Shirt
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    Should have been included in this article is the cost of Uranium fuel vs. Thorium and the abundance of both in the earth. Thorium is as abundant as lead and costs a little more and Uranium is a lot less abundant and is on par with platinum in cost. But aside from all this is the fact that the AEC prohibits the mining of Thorium in the US. Until this situation is rectified LFTRs will not happen. More is the pity because reducing the uranium above ground any way possible is a deterrent to using it for penetrator ammunition and export around the globe to reduce the piles of waste at home.


    Alvin Weinberg did invent and build the first LFTR and he did get fired for advocating it's use as a safety criteria. One needs only to read the operating outline for a water cooled reactor to realise that it is at it's most efficient when operating on the cusp of a "runaway" scenario, one step away from total meltdown. A LFTR is "walkaway" safe. It needs no massive steel containment vessel for it's reactor because it operates at anbient pressure. Ditto for a massive concrete housing. No heat escapes as steam so no need for massive cooling towers. Sounds like substantial savings on construction costs.
    The prize is it"s fuel costs. Uranium needs extensive refining and as ready-for-reactor fuel it costs north of platinum! Aside from cost, it is much rarer in the earth than THORIUM. We will soon run out of uranium at present day rates of usage. THE WASTE IT LEAVES IS MIND-BOGGLING.
    Thorium is about as abundant as lead, needs little refining and processing and no enriching and the best part is a LFTR will run happily digesting "depleted" fuel from water-cooled reactors.
    We have thousands of tons of spent fuel languishing in swimming pools and perhaps millions of tons of suitable fuel for LFTR reactors. The biggest problem today is what to do with all the waste. Bury it in the desert has been suggested, but in 50 plus years we are no closer to a sane political decision than we were after trinity. Food for thought, Uranium 238 makes up 93% of ore dug up and U235 is 0.07% and is the only fuel used in water cooled reactors. U238 is considered waste and used U235 and are both eminently suitable as feed stock for LFTR. Free fuel for the next thousand years. Why bury it all when the solution is a new (OLD) reactor design?
    250 kg of Uranium = 1 kg of Thorium to achieve the same energy output!

  80. jeff

    This sounds a lot like the Thorium reactor setup using Thorium and (I think) Lithium salts to do the same thing.

  81. I'm Inventzilla

    I'm a cold fusioneer who hasn't found money for projects. One really prestigious laboratory is doing my experiment but if we had money I could do lot more to prove the principle.

  82. I'm Inventzilla

    if the plug melts under excessively hot conditions air gets into the molten salt-fuel loop it will heat up, expand and explode. You have to take Murphy's law seriously.

  83. I'm Inventzilla

    Thats very interesting information about unknown isotopes. There are so many stuck up engineers that think they can build fool proof systems that never go wrong. Its arrogance. Human error is something you cant factor out. The engineers that designed fukushima could have built a higher seawall around those five plants but they were SURE a tsunami that big wouldn't happen again. They ignored past weather reports to shave costs and claimed their logic was fool proof.

  84. I'm Inventzilla

    Its true that a few people have died in solar and wind accidents but there's no way an equipment failure can make a whole county uninhabitable or cause tens of thousands of cancers

  85. I'm Inventzilla

    are you telling us there will be reactors with fuel in them buried all over the place.

  86. I'm Inventzilla

    The coulomb barrier can be tunnelled through, its a matter of statistics how many nuclei tunnel through a quantum barrier to achieve fusion. Muonic fusion is real but falls short of producing more energy than what's put in to generate muons. The muon orbit much closer to a deuterium atom's nuclear than electrons and their charge shields the nuclei in a molecule of DT from each others electric fields until tunnelling enables fusion. The LENR and cold fusion theorists are trying to find other tricks to reduce the coulomb barrier.

  87. Christopher Calder

    I absolutely agree, and that is why I hope we can get either hot or cold fusion to work ASAP. Wind and solar do not have the reliability and energy density to replace fossil fuels and they do not reduce CO2 emissions, if that is what you are worrying about. They are a total 100% failure for anything by specialty uses. Wind is great for pumping irrigation water on a farm, but wind is of no use at all for creating electricity. Solar is fine for pocket calculators or to power a few LED lights in a hunting cabin, but of no use for electrifying a entire city. USE THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE RIGHT JOB. To replace fossil fuels the energy source must be reliable, predictable, continuous, have very high energy density, and we need to be able to turn it on and off at will. See The Renewable Energy Disaster at

  88. Gallilao

    It is kind of you to be interested but the reality is that I am too old and my health is too poor and failing and it would be a moot point at this stage in my life.
    I wish you good luck in your ventures though!

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