Tom Blees continues discussion about the MSR technology
Tom Blees, a member of the Global Energy Prize International Award Committee, resumed the discussion on the prospects of creating modular nuclear power sources using power vessels with MSRs.
Earlier Blees wrote an article "The Energy Transition To Come", in which he suggested that such projects are promising.
In response, Academician Ashot Sarkisov from the Institute for the Safe Development of Nuclear Energy of the Russian Academy of Sciences said that the idea is promising, but it is important to use a different type of reactor. Reactors with lead-bismuth coolant or water-cooled reactors with the highest referentiality would be more preferable.
“If air and water can be prevented from getting into the primary system, the corrosive effect would be considerably less, and this should be an issue that can be solved by good engineering. I believe that Mr. Sarkisov would likely agree that this disposable reactor concept would put that concern to rest,” Blees said to the Global Energy Association.
According to Blees, he had discussed this very issue with a former director of Idaho National Laboratory in the USA, Charles Till, who led the Integral Fast Reactor project back in the Eighties and Nineties. “When I asked him what he thought of MSR technology, his first question was the same as mine had always been (and Mr. Sarkisov's is today): ‘What are you going to build it with?’When I told him of that problem being solved by the plan to make the reactors disposable, his reaction was, ‘That's brilliant!’ I'm glad that Mr. Sarkisov took the time to point out this potential pitfall that could otherwise be a very real potential deal-breaker.”
He also pointed out that his reticence changed to enthusiasm when the founders of Thorcon—accomplished industrialists in ship design and building—showed that such reactor vessels (of 250 MWe) could be built so cheaply and quickly that they could be disposable after just four years of use.
“They chose four years because the original MSR at Oak Ridge National Laboratory operated for four years back in the early Sixties. Yes, today we definitely do have superior alloys today, but even using the alloys from back then it's almost certain that the modules would last for more than four years. Yet if the economics of building four-year disposable reactor modules are workable, then any added years would simply be a valuable gift,” the scientist said.