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2L bottle of water, put a little bit of water in the bottom, now try to balance it. And I couldn't because the weight was really low, I couldn't- -maneuver it fast enough. Then he filled it all the way up. Now it was much heavier it was much more unstable but the center of gravity was higher so yeah I was totally able to balance it. Rockets are the same way. They're unstable, but you want them to be unstable in a particular kind of way. You want them to be unstable in a way you can control it. I'm an aerospace engineer by training, went to Geogia Tech got my masters degree there. Now I spent 10 years working at NASA. This is the kind of community I was thinking of. It had all the same needs a community on Earth would have but it had some very unique constraints. He grew up talking space, living space, did his 4th grade state report on Alabama because of the rocket center. Even from our first date I knew he was passionate about space. Harrison Schmitt was the first trained geologist, and only trained geologist, to go to the moon. So he was a guy who knew what the heck to look for. And so the scientific take was so vast, it almost eclipses all the other missions put together. During the Apollo era you didn't need government programs to try convince people that doing science and engineering was good for the country. It was self evident. And even those not formally trained in technical fields embraced what those fields meant to the collective national future. We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they're hard. Who wants to be an aerospace engineer so that you can design a plane that's a few percent more fuel efficient. That doesn't really work. Saying who wants to be an aerospace engineer because we need a plane that can navigate the rarified atmosphere of Mars- You're going to attract the very best of those students. And the solutions to that problem, in every case I've ever seen, have improved life back here on Earth. Zero, and liftoff of the Atlas 5 with Curiosity. It had, like, heat shields and a hypersonic drogue chute. I said this is not going to work. Retro-rockets and then a hoist. It was something Rube Goldberg would have designed. An SUV sized rover was plunked down on Mars. How confident were you that this whole sequence of landing devices would work? I wasn't confident at all I was shitting bricks. It was scary. This lander has more than 10 times as much scientific instrumentation than anything we've sent onto the surface of Mars. So it needs more power? Needs more power, -as Kirk would say to Scotty. Well the last one was solar this one's got nukes. Wait, wait. So you've got a nuclear power plant on the rover? It's not a power plant, it's a power source. We're touchy about this because when you use the nuclear word- One of the two verboten n-words- That's right, that's right. Just saying. So when we use THAT n-word, we try to speak carefully. And it's not like a nuclear power plant with the cooling towers and the turbines and all that. It's a bunch of Plutonium that's giving off heat and we use that to generate electricity. So you found another thing to call it to not spook people when it's launched? Yeah. Okay. Apollo astronauts used plutonium RTG to power their science equipment. The Mars rover Curiosity is entirely powered by RTG. And it can run at night. It can run in any season. The other ones had solar panels they could only run in the daytime? Yup. Couldn't you charge a battery and keep working at night? In the Martian winter, your monopower goes down if your solar panels get covered with dust. So in the Martian winter the Sun is very low in the sky? Yeah. The Martian exploration rovers often found themselves short on power as dust settled on their solar panels. They were the only source of energy, and the Martian winter was approaching. The part of the it that really breaks my heart is that we just didn't have power to drive any more. Well, one of them did die, because of the winter- One of the two rovers? Yeah, if the power goes down enough so that you can't run the heaters at night, then you die. That already happened to one of our previous rovers, so, if you want to do a lot of science, you want a lot of power a lot of instrumentation, you want to last a long time and run anywhere on Mars- Send nukes. Send nukes. Exploring space requires energy. Energy to run experiments. Energy to scrub carbon dioxide from Astronauts oxygen supply. The carbon dioxide removal assembly is being worked on today inside the destiny laboratory. A short was seen in one of the heating elements that you see Mike Barratt there. He put a filter in there that helps keep the water pure. That system uses water because obviously water is made of hydrogen and oxygen. It uses electrolysis, which is passing an electrical current through that water to split the water into hydrogen and its oxygen. The hydrogen is dumped overboard, the oxygen is used to pump into the air- of the station for the crew members to breathe. You go to the moon and there's no oxygen atmosphere there's no lakes of water or anything. So it really comes down to nuclear and solar power. They called it the n-word at NASA. They're like- we can't even talk about nuclear. And I said- how can we not talk about it? We have exactly two options for how to make power in space and this is one of them. Europa! Another Europa. A black and white picture of a ring of Jupiter! Why is the Earth round? Why isn't it square or any other shape? That's a good question. That's a question I've asked myself. And the answer has to do with gravity- Carl Sagan was a member of Voyager's imaging team. And it was his idea that Voyager take one last picture. That's here. That's home. That's us. Every hero and coward. Every creator and destroyer of civilization. Every king and peasant. Every young couple in love. Every mother and father. Hopeful child. Inventor and explorer. Every teacher of morals. Every corrupt politician. Every superstar. Every supreme leader. Every saint and sinner in the history of our species. On a mote of dust. Suspended in a sunbeam. As we explore further from the Sun, the utility of solar panels shrink to zero. To illustrate, imagine we can power a space mission orbiting the earth with one solar panel. We'll call this solar panel- THE EARTH PANEL. If we use Earth Panel orbiting Venus instead of the Earth, we'll get almost twice as much electricity from it, because orbiting closer to the Sun, more photons will be hitting the panel surface. The same Earth Panel orbiting Mercury will generate almost 7x as much electricity. Mercury is closer to the Sun. More photons hit the panel. But when we start moving away from the Sun- In Mars orbit- We only get half as much electricity. So to power an identical space mission, we now need 2 Earth Panels. At Jupiter, where only 4% as many photons can hit Earth Panel, we now need 27 Earth Panels to power the mission. The distance between Earth and the Sun is what's called an Astronomical Unit. Earth is 1 Astronomical Unit away from the Sun. Jupiter is only 5 Astronomical Units away from the Sun, but it requires 27x as many solar panels. The relationship is not linear, its quadratic. At Saturn, 91 Earth Panels. Uranus . Neptune . At Pluto, 1500 Earth panels are required to power the mission. Somewhere between Mars and Saturn, our mission became impractical. Clouds and haze completely hide the surface of Titan, Saturn's giant moon. Titan reminds me a little bit of home. Like Earth, it has an atmosphere which is mostly nitrogen. But it's 4x denser. NASA's Cassini mission to Saturn pulled into orbit, dropped off of itself a little probe. The probe Huygens descended down from the Cassini spacecraft and landed on Titan. Hidden beneath lies a weirdly familiar landscape. Titan has lots of water. But all of it is frozen hard as rock. In fact, the landscape and mountains are made mainly of water ice. On Titan, the seas and the rain are made not of water but of methane and ethane. On Earth those molecules form natural gas. On frigid Titan, they're liquid. There might be creatures that inhale hydrogen instead of oxygen. And exhale methane instead of carbon dioxide. They might use acetylene instead of sugar as an energy source. How could we find out if such creatures rule a hidden empire beneath the oil dark waves? The probe Huygens landed in one spot. You know it's a big moon, it's 1 of 6 moons bigger than Pluto by the way. What does the other side of the moon look like? The probe only had battery life for a couple of hours. We weren't there long enough to see how things change. Does is snow methane? So these long time baseline questions can't be answered by 2 hours worth of data. Cassini Mission was launched in 1997 and Saturn is a long way away, it took 7 years to get there. The huygens probe launched from Cassini only operated 2 hours. But Cassini itself, powered by a plutonium RTG, continues to study Saturn and her 62 moons. For how long can plutonium power a mission? How far from the Sun can we explore? The Sun is constantly shooting out streams of charged particles in all directions. This "Solar Wind" blows a vast magnetic bubble it pushes out against the thin gas of interstellar space beyond the outer planets, our heliosphere. There is a border where one ends, and the other begins. Turns out there was a massive eruption from the Sun which eventually reached Voyager 1 in April of 2013. It caused the plasma around Voyager to vibrate or oscillate and by measuring that sound wave we could measure the density of the plasma in interstellar space: the space between the stars. The Voyagers move at about 40,000 MPH. They gave us our first close up look at Jupiter's Great Red Spot, a hurricane 3x the size of Earth. We can now make out finer detail on Jupiter than the largest telescopes on Earth have ever obtained. The cloud patters are distinctive and gorgeous. Its motion hypnotizes us. 4 days after the Voyager 1 encounter with Jupiter, I was looking at an optical navigation frame. It became very evident to me there was an anomalous present in the upper left hand corner just off the rim of Io. A volcanic plume, in fact a volcanic eruption. The Voyagers discovered the first active volcano on another world, on Jupiter's moon Io. The Voyagers dared to fly across Saturn's rings and revealed that they were made of hundreds of thin bands of orbiting snowballs. Voyager successfully completed its mission of discovery to the outer planets, but its odyssey into the darkness was just beginning. 35 years after its launch, Voyager 1 became the first of our spacecraft to enter an uncharted realm. Until then, we didn't know where the interstellar ocean began. Oh, hello Universe! This morning, the New Horizons spacecraft made the closest ever pass near Pluto after being launched almost a decade ago back when NASA had the cash to do cool stuff like this. And wow, the pictures are unbelievable! After nearly a century of near total mystery we finally know what Pluto really looks like. And we have to wait over a year now for all the information to come in. It's like opening up a birthday present every day from now until the end of the next year. Who doesn't love atmospheric data for their birthday? If you're watching Honey, hint-hint! And in 2019 - New Horizons will start sucking up data once again as it passes by a Kuiper belt object at a distance from the Sun of 43 astronomical units. Compare the performance of Cassini, Voyagers, New Horizons, and the Curiosity Mars Rover against solar and battery powered exploration. The Mars Rover, Spirit, froze to death, thanks to dust on its solar panels. Huygens landed safely on the surface of Titan, but NASA only received 2 hours worth of data. And most recently, the European Space Agency's 2014 achievement, of landing a solar powered probe named Philae on comet 67p. Humanity landed a probe on a comet whose path spans both Earth's orbit and Jupiter's. Every 6 years, comet 67p nears the sun, warms up, and ejects material from its core through vents on its surface. Every 6 years, 67p freezes once again as it drifts out towards Jupiter. Solar Powered Philae was never designed to survive a full orbit. But inner orbit study, an appropriate challenge for solar panels, hit a snag. The landing produced some surprises. Philae didn't secure itself to the comet's surface and bounced making multiple touchdowns. The final resting site was partly in shadow, receiving less sunlight to recharge its instruments. Philae was power-starved and unable to conduct experiments, before freezing to death. Hours of operation. Decades of operation. Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a tireless advocate for NASA, explaining to politicians and public what we miss when space exploration is severely financially constrained. We lost an entire generation of these smart people they became investment bankers or lawyers out of the 1980s and 90s because they had no place for them to take their interest in science. When the merger between Boeing and Lockheed's business occurred, their merger promised in the press release $150 million of savings. Instead there were billions of dollars of cost overruns. And entrepreneur Elon Musk explains how space exploration is launch constrained. Musk created SpaceX to drastically reduce the cost of launching payload into orbit. Space-X was founded to make radical improvements to space transport technology. With particular regard to reliability and safety and affordability. We have top men working on it right now. Who? Top. Men. But what about powering space exploration? Most of our RTG fuel, the Plutonium-238, was created a quarter century ago. NASA started producing more in 2013, but the worldwide shortage of RTG fuel is a perpetual constraint on space missions. And while our tiny supply of Plutonium-238 can power exploration missions lasting decades anywhere in our solar system, the radioactive decay of Plutonium really does not provide much power. Curiosity runs on 100 watts. Rolling across the surface of Mars, taking photos, grinding samples, detecting neutrons, monitoring the atmosphere, and sending all this data back to us- Curiosity does all of this on 2 incandescent light bulbs worth of power. Our space missions will never match what we see in movies, or read about in science fiction novels. This is an invisible constraint. The Martian is based on Mars Direct, a research paper written by NASA engineers. The weight of the rocket fuel required for a round-trip to Mars was so enormous it would render the launch ship impossibly heavy. We would split the mission up into 2 parts. And we'd send the return vehicle out first with its own return propellant plant. The propellant would be made on Mars. Before any humans land on the planet, Mars Direct uses a small, unmanned nuclear reactor on wheels to power the creation of rocket fuel. So that humans can get from the surface of Mars, back up into space. It is 6:53 on Sol 19, and I'm alive. Obviously. But I'm guessing that's going to come as a surprise to my crew-mates. That a starving astronaut's journey across Mars consists of repeatedly deploying solar panels, sleeping during the day while his vehicle recharges, and then driving at night, is a realistic but unnecessary challenge created for dramatic tension. Had Mark Watney been abandoned during a Mars Direct mission, he'd have ample electricity to journey across Mars, thanks to the small nuclear reactor on wheels it's just a nice little putt-putt he could tow behind his rover. It's not a giant nuclear power plant that powers a city, it's just a nice little putt-putt nuke sitting in the back of a truck. Look I don't mean to sound arrogant or anything but I am the greatest botanist on this planet. Similarly, Mark Watney rations his potato crop to survive 400 days on Mars. I now have 400 healthy potato plants. I dug them up being careful to leave their plants alive. The smaller ones I'll re-seed. The larger ones are my food supply. The carbon in Watney's potato crop tissue does not come from nutrient rich astronaut poop. It comes from the carbon in the Martian atmosphere. Photosynthesis is carbon dioxide + photons creating plant tissue and emitting oxygen. Because there's no shortage of carbon or water on Mars, more photons means more potato. Artificial lighting means bigger potatoes than could otherwise be grown in Mars orbit. It is the difference between one-half of Earth sunlight, and as many photons as the potato crop can absorb. Hey watch him. Oh my God! El Dorado, the legends are true. That is how illegal grow operations are routinely busted- simply by monitoring unusual behavior on the electrical grid. This is also why high yield urban farming requires so much energy. You want to see what minimal calorie count looks like? It has been 7 days since I ran out of ketchup. Andy Weir put his astronaut on the brink of freezing to death and starving to death, by downgrading the Mars Direct nuclear reactor to an RTG. Even so, nuclear power of some sort was still required, as the author explains. At one point I considered when he's on his long drive to Schiaparelli, I thought, what if the RTG develops a problem? What if it leaks or something like that and he has to live without it? Throws it away and he has to drive away without it? There's just no way you'd survive. You are dead. When you see a futuristic and inspiring space mission on the big screen, it's not being powered by RTG or solar. Well what if NASA missions had access to far more energy? Most people don't appreciate how little energy NASA has at their disposal to design missions around. The most exciting missions are not even under consideration because we have no way to power them. We've got 1 liquid water planet in our solar system, and we've already identified 3 potential hydrospheres that are ice covered and far from the Sun. Right. Based on our own immediate experience its a 3:1 ratio. Sure, sure. Do we know if any of them are habitable? We don't, but we gotta go look. A mission to explore under the ice of Europa would be the ultimate robotic challenge. Solar is out of the question. Jupiter is too far from the sun. And batteries can't hold enough power to melt through a planet's outer shell of ice. We need something small, lightweight, long lasting and extremely energy dense to power such a mission. Can I just get my favorite mission which doesn't exist and isn't funded now? It would be to go to Jupiter's moon Europa. It has an icy outer surface. The gravitational stress on Europa from Jupiter and other surrounding moons is pumping energy into it much the same way when you warm up a racquetball by hitting it. You distort it, it bounces back to shape, you're pumping energy into it. That has melted the interior ice. It has an ocean of liquid water that's been liquid for billions of years. Everywhere on Earth where we've found liquid water we've found life. I want to go ice fishing on Europa. Lower a submersible. Aerospace is fricking cool, man. It's awesome to work on rockets and spaceships and everything. I love it. It's like in my guts. I love it. If you want to build a ship don't drum up people to collect wood. But rather, teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea. This was O'Neil's vision back in the 70s. We all knew we needed energy. Solar energy sure seemed great. This really affected the way I thought. I was like, yeah, sign me up for this. There's no coal on the moon. There's no petroleum. There's no wind either. And solar power had a real problem. I've worked a lot of my career in solar powered systems. It's just that, that said- I'm a lot more aware of their limitations. The moon orbits the Earth once a month. For 2 weeks the sun goes down and your solar panels don't make any energy. I knew Kirk Sorensen as a young engineer. I ended up getting a job at Marshall Space Flight Center at NASA. Dating back to NASA days when we were looking for deep space power systems out there for Mars and the Moon. And all of the systems we had were just not going to make it. This is Mark Watney, astronaut, here on the Hermes. You basically point the bird in that direction, you wait 150 days, 36 million miles later we should be at Mars. Ion engines are a real technology. They're not just invented for the book. Basically they're particle accelerators that shoot particles very, very fast. So fast, that the particles gain relativistic mass. Oh, wow. So with less matter you're getting more momentum change. So you need very, very little mass. All the technology in the book actually exists. However, some of it is better than our current incarnation. So we don't have ion engines anywhere as powerful as Hermes has. But there's nothing preventing us from making it. We know how to do that. We could scale it up. And everything you do in space, because you don't have any ground or air or anything to push against, it all comes down to delta-v. To put yourself on a Mars intercept you need a delta-v of about 2.5 km/s which is about 5,000 MPH. You can't cheat the system in any way. Physics demands that you pay the price. And the amount of fuel that you have on your ship determines the total amount of delta-v you can have. Period. And you need a lot of energy on board so you need a reactor on board, which my fictional ship has. There were a lot of people who were saying- Let's put solar arrays out on Mars. Well Mars has terrible dust storms. I said, if you were on Mars, and you had these solar arrays, and they got coated by dust, you're going to die. Take a look. Dust storm. Headed right for Mars One base camp. Southern Hemisphere coming from the east. These bad boys can cover a whole planet and last up to a year. Now at this time I was not particularly excited about nuclear. I thought- nuclear- isn't that bad or dirty or yucky? I had this vague distaste for nuclear. Almost all the nuclear power we use on Earth today uses water as the basic coolant. At normal pressures water will boil at 100 degrees Celsius. This isn't nearly hot enough to generate electricity effectively. So water cooled reactors have to run at much higher pressures than atmospheric pressure. And this means you have to run a water cooled reactor as a pressure vessel. If that sounds heavy that's because it is. We were looking at a nuclear reactor and they tend to be heavy and you need to have a large amount of shielding. My dad worked on the snap reactor for NASA. Did he really? What my dad did was that he shook the shit out of it. They would see what broke. Then they would fix it, shake it again. See what broke, fix it again. Nice. Then they ran it for 1,000 hours. Up power, down power. They were going to put it in a Saturn V rocket. Send it to the Moon. Never did that. Send it to the space base that they never built. Put it onto Mars but they never did that program. I know. It's a shame. We presented this at the Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space conference, to accommodate space travel or off-world living. That brings in a whole set of more robust variables that need to be attended to. Nuclear reactors in space, like you just said, they are under such extreme conditions. You know, the shuddering of the rocket as its going up into space. The g-forces, the vibrational problems. But mass is everything in space, and so if you can have a much lighter reactor let's do it. Well your choices are limited. You're not going to make a light water reactor that you need this really thick pressure vessel. Let me diss on water a few more times. It's a covalently bonded substance. The oxygen has a covalent bond with two hydrogens. Neither one of those bonds is strong enough to survive getting smacked around by a gamma or a neutron. And sure enough, they knock the hydrogens clean off. Now, in a water cooled reactor, you have a system called a recombiner that will take the hydrogen gas and the oxygen gas that is always being created from the nuclear reaction and put them back together. It's a great system as long as it's operating and the system is pumping. Well, at Fukushima Daiichi, the problem was that the pumping power stopped. At high temperature H2O can also react with the cladding to release hydrogen. Or damage the cladding, releasing radioactive isotopes. These 2 accidents illustrate the need for a coolant which is more chemically stable than H2O. In a community on the Moon we would live very close to your power source. This isn't something that's going to be far away. If the power source were to fail, you're going to die really quickly. So I thought, if I were living on the Moon and I was totally dependent on a power source I'd want one that I'd just about feel comfortable living right on top of. Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima were all radically different incidents. But what all 3 had in common was how poorly water performed as a coolant when things started to go wrong. Steam takes up about 1,000 times more volume than liquid water. If you have liquid water at 300 degrees Celsius and suddenly you depressurize it, it doesn't stay liquid for very long it flashes into steam. That's scuba tank, hot scuba tank, full of nuclear material. At Three Mile Island, water couldn't be pumped into the core because some of the coolant water had vaporized into steam. The increased pressure forced coolant water back out, contributing to a partial meltdown. At Chernobyl, the insertion of poorly designed control rods caused core temperature to skyrocket. The boiling point of the pressurized water coolant was passed, and it flashed to steam. It was a steam explosion that tore the 2,000 ton lid off the reactor casing, and shot it up through the roof of the building. At Fukushima, loss of pump power allowed the coolant water to get hotter and hotter until it boiled away. These 3 accidents illustrate the need for a coolant with a higher boiling point than water. When you put water under extreme pressure like anything else it wants to get out of that extreme pressure. Almost all of the aspects of our nuclear reactors today that we find the most challenging can be traced back to the need to have pressurized water. Water cooled reactors have another challenge. They need to be near large bodies of water so the steam they generate can be cooled and condensed. Otherwise they can't generate electrical power. Now there's no lakes or rivers on the moon so if all this makes it sound like water-cooled reactors aren't such a good fit for a lunar community I would tend to agree with you. You see i had the good fortune to learn about a different form of nuclear power that doesn't have all these problems for a very simple reason: it's not based on water cooling and it doesn't use solid fuel. Surprisingly it's based on salt. Science allows you to look at everyday objects for what they really are. Chemically and physically. And it really makes you look twice at the world around you. Your table salt is frozen. That's a really strange thing to think about your table salt on your kitchen table. It's frozen. But once they melt they have a 1,000 degrees [Celsius] of liquid range. And they have excellent heat transfer properties. They can carry a large amount of heat per unit volume, just like water. Water is actually really good from a heat transfer perspective. Its really good at carrying heat per unit volume. Salts are just as good carrying heat per unit volume. But salts don't have to be pressurized. And that- If you remember nothing else of what I say tonight, remember that one fact. A nuclear reactor is a rough place for normal matter. The nice thing about a salt- is that it is formed from a positive ion and a negative ion. Like sodium is positively charged, and Chlorine is negatively charged. And they go- we're not really going to bond we're just going to associate one with another. That's what's called an ionic bond. Yeah, you're kinda friends. You know, you're- Facebook friends! There you go, facebook friends. Alright, well it turns out this is a really good thing for a reactor because a reactor is going to take those guys and just smack them all over the place with gammas and neutrons and everything. The good news is they don't really care who they particularly are next to. As long as there are an equal number of positive ions and negative ions, the big picture is happy. A salt is composed of the stuff that's in this column the halogens, and the stuff that's in these columns the alkali and alkaline. Fluorine is so reactive with everything. But once it's made a salt, a fluoride, then it's incredibly chemically stable and non-reactive. Sodium chloride, table salt, or potassium iodide, they have really high melting points. We like the lower melting points of fluoride salts. Sometimes people go, oh you're working on liquid fluorine reactors, No, no! I am not working on liquid fluorine reactors. I'm talking about fluoride reactors and there's a big difference between those two. One is going to explode, the other is like, super-duper stable. I see moving to molten salt fueled reactor technology as a way to get rid of all the stored energy term problems we look at in today's reactors. Whether it is pressure, whether it is chemical reactivity. Even the potential of fission products in the fuel itself to be released. Those fission products are bound up very tightly in salts. Strontium and caesium are both bound up in very, very stable fluoride salts. Caesium fluoride is a very stable salt. Strontium bifluoride another very stable salt. In a light water reactor caesium is volatile, in the chemical state of the oxide fuel in a light water reactor. That's been one of the concerns about caesium release. Caesium would not release from a fluoride reactor at all. I actually met Kirk in a conference in Manchester in the UK- as part of an event put on by The Guardian newspaper. Hi, I'm Kirk Sorensen. They'd invited people to come and present their ideas and Kirk was 1 of the 10 people that presented. And I can remember sitting on the panel and just being kind of blown away by the fact that there was an alternative version of nuclear. I'm an environmentalist, my passion is climate change and energy. I worked at Friend of the Earth, a green campaign group in the UK. And I was an anti-nuclear campaigner. But I've become a politician. I will be faithful and bear true allegance to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth. That's changed my life quite a lot. I'm still getting used to it really, people call me "My Lady" and "The Barronnesse. Sellafield Limited is actively working with the 600 people who are going to be losing their jobs at this time. And everybody in the area is doing their very best to see if these people can find jobs very quickly. Sellafield is a unique site in the UK, and I believe it could become home of world leading research into next generation nuclear reactors. Such reactors- as well as being more efficient in their fuel use- generating no long lasting waste, can be be designed to burn up existing stockpiles of Plutonium held at the Sellafield site. Despite greater acceptance of nuclear power there remain concerns about nuclear waste. So, in light of this, is there more the government can do to support R&D into new nuclear designs that will help to ensure we develop the safest and the most efficient reactors? An engineer looks at the world as hundreds of things that are inefficient and should be more properly designed. When you tell an engineer that something is 20% more efficient he's like, yeah! You tell him it's 50% more efficient, oh my gosh! You tell him it's hundreds of times more efficient it becomes absolutely irresistible. Making solid nuclear fuel is a complicated and expensive process and we extract less than 1% of the energy from the nuclear fuel before it can no longer remain in the reactor. The solid fuel will begin to swell and crack, and you begin to get this central void. This is actually a gap in the fuel. When the fuel swells to a certain point the clad can't hold it any more. And when the clad can't hold it any more it's time to remove the fuel from the reactor. At this point only a small amount of the energy has been consumed. Wigner didn't like solid fuel. He was a chemical engineer by training and he thought- What process do we run chemically based on solids? We don't. Everything we do, we use as liquids or gasses because we can mix them completely. You can take a liquid, you can fully mix it. You can take a gas, you can fully mix it. You can't take a solid and fully mix it unless you turn it into a liquid or a gas. I believe part of this came from Wigner's educational background. He was the only person or almost the only person who combined great skill as a nuclear physicist with great skill as an engineer. Wigner was a chemical engineer by training. He was the only one who commanded both of those attributes. And so he was able to see both the engineering and physics aspects. He was a chemical engineer by training and he knew that in chemical processes the reactant streams are almost always liquids and gases- they're fluids. And in fluids a completion of the various chemical reactions are possible. He looked at the nuclear problem and wondered if the same principle might not apply. And they began investigating some very radical nuclear reactors, totally different from the stuff we have now. Wigner was not terribly successful in making converts in the nuclear community. But he did make one convert, this guy, Alvin Weinberg. He was his student during the Manhattan Project. And Weinberg got it, he got the big picture. We need liquid fuel. I see it. I see what we gotta do. They were into small modular reactors before small modular reactors were cool. Small, liquid-core, and then you have high-efficiency. So there were a couple things that jumped right out at us. The shielding weight became reasonable. All these great benefits, how do we know this can work? Quite simply because- because we did it. I got in the car, I live in Alabama, and I was able to drive to Oak Ridge and talk to some of the people there, and I said- Hey, I heard long time ago you guys did this really cool thing. In the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Laboratory we ran what was called the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. This was the main focus of Oak Ridge for decades and it was very abruptly cut off. It was a very bitter pill to swallow for them. So a lot of these great minds, they thought their life's work had gone to waste. Yeah, long time ago we did a really cool thing. Everyone who worked on it is retired or dead now. Oh. That's not good. I've got the world's oldest molten salt website. If you find the original copy of the Generation 4 report, my URL from my website is listed as the only [molten salt] reference. I'm a guy in a garage. I should not be the only reference for this. The other thing is- Alvin Weinberg wasn't dead yet. To list me while there's so many other documents are you kidding me? I actually got an email from Richard Weinberg, the son of Alvin Weinberg. Well are your father's papers somewhere, have they been examined? He said- most of my father's papers are at the Oak Ridge Children's Museum. So I ended up going back to Oak Ridge. Literally there was a big walk-in closet with filing cabinets stacked to the ceiling that nobody had looked at in decades probably. I'm realizing as I go through these Oak Ridge documents, how limited their distribution was. At the very last page of every one, there's a distribution, about 40 people. So best case scenario, 40 people read what I'm holding in my hand, 50 years ago. And this is no little thing. This was a long research project starting from the 50s, a huge body of research Oak Ridge did. Unfortunately only Oak Ridge so it was geographically limited knowledge. There's hundreds of these big thick documents. At one time this whole courtyard would have been filled with these specimens so we could do all sorts of research and testing on it. But one day, nickel alloys were at a real premium. Like, unheard of recycle value. He said someone made the decision to come in, and they cleaned out all of our lab specimens for recycle. Uri Gat, a scientist at Oak Ridge, got me involved in Molten Salt. Walking through Graphite Reactor Building, there's this large palette covered with books, manuals. We kind of stopped it was in the way of our path. Uri was there, and he goes- Oh, they didn't tell me again. And I just reached down and picked them up. They were all big thick documents on the Molten Salt Reactor. And I happened to pick 2 of the best I possibly could. The status report of the Molten Salt Breeder Reactor, the other was the project plan. I just randomly picked them up. The workman comes and he says- What are you doing here? Uri goes- What's going to happen to these documents? The guy goes- These are the excess going to the burn facility. They were burning them. It was a real shame, probably in the 1990s, that needing more space so many documents were being destroyed or shredded. Hey, this would be a great for a space reactor we ought to throw some money at these guys and get all this stuff documented. NASA was able to get Oak Ridge and like $10,000 bucks to scan in those documents. A really genuinely beautiful thing to try and share knowledge. There was never a level of uptake for it at the agency, but amongst individuals a lot of people got very interested. We had dug up that information from Oak Ridge National Labs, thought it was great, and put together several proposals based on it. It has been a lot better. The new policy is, any old documents- if someone in the world is calling about them that makes it important enough to scan. And as we need them they seem to be ready to make electronic versions of them that the rest of the world can use. We have been able to access, and also to disperse, an amazing amount of information. This was the big problem was, how do you show this is real? You know? It sounds like made up technology when you describe it to people. Jeeze the Molten Salt Reactor pretty much does what fusion is asking, and were almost developed to the stage we could start using them so long ago, in the 50s, 60s, and early 70s. You nuclear engineers are probably going to think those are fuel rods, they're not. They're graphite. The fuel was a liquid which flowed through channels in this graphite. So the graphite serves the function water serves in existing solid fuel reactors, which is to moderate the neutrons which are being born in fission. Except, this time, instead of having solid fuel in a liquid moderator, you've got liquid fuel in a solid moderator. It's so opposite. There they have solid fuel, liquid moderator. Molten salt- liquid fuel, solid moderator. Uh- Water, salt. Uh- Graphite, no graphite in here. Metal in here, yeah. No metal in here. It's like an opposite reactor. Well back around 2004 a gentleman named Kirk Sorensen had contacted me by email and came to visit us at Berkeley. We'd been working on Molten Salt Reactor technology and doing some of the early studies of how salts might be used to cool solid fuel reactors. And Kirk came into my office. He had a stack of CD-ROMs. On them was this compendium of reports from Oak Ridge National Laboratory from the Molten Salt Reactor program of the 1950s through 1970s. And that was a treasure-trove. There was an enormous amount of very useful data. He'd discovered a treasure-trove. This was going to change the world. When I was at NASA I finagled some funds to get those documents scanned. I made bunches and bunches of copies of CDs. For you young people this was almost pre-internet. Yeah, we had it, but your website would hold about 20 megabytes. CDs were really the only way to move around big data. Sneaker-net was probably the better way to describe it. I made these for the Secretary of Energy, delivered them in D.C.- and sent them to lab directors. Sent it all out, to these different places just sure that they were going to get CDs from a random person and put them in their computer and study them extensively- all 5 gigabytes of them, and come to the same conclusion that I had and change national policy. I mean of course, right? Nobody cared at all. The only person who cared was Per. And I'm really glad that he did because I think he feels the same way about this technology that I do, that it's really exciting. I mean I spent a number of years when I first learned about this just asking people- Okay, tell me what's wrong with this? Tell me why it's not the greatest thing since sliced bread. Because really, I'm not a nuclear- I wasn't a nuclear engineer back then. I didn't want to get involved if it wasn't important. I wanted someone to come and say, oh we did this and this and this and it totally did not work out. That would have been simple. I'd be like, okay, fine. I'll go back to doing my space things. But the fact that- they didn't say that. And they said that- This was a great idea. We really should have done it. That stuck in my- That stuck in my craw for a long time. Joe Bonometti and I would talk to each other at NASA. And it almost tormented us. I think it really did literally torment Joe. That we weren't working on what we felt was the most important thing. It'd be a fantastic help to the human race in general. It could also be what lends us quite well into space reactors and going to Mars, going to the Moon and other places. You need that light, small power source. We need water. We need to grow our food. The sustainability of long-term colonization of Mars is a very real option with the molten salt reactor. Already we're pretty constrained in fresh water. We in California are experiencing this first-hand right now. Another application of having lots of energy, is to be able to create fresh water from ocean water. Every drop of drinking water on the planet is desalinated with nuclear power- today. I think we should just use a little bit more. And everybody on the planet has all the fresh water they can drink. Put a power plant on the coast. Bring in seawater from a couple miles out. Desalinate it. Suddenly you're not even pulling water out from the aquifers any more. So the river's not touched. The lake's not touched. I must be missing something. These guys who are real nuclear engineers, they must know something about nuclear that would- if I knew it then I'd know why we're not doing molten salt reactors. So I need to go, get my degree, and get an understanding, and then I'll see whatever it is they see. Turns out everything I learned, everything I studied, just made this look better and better. And these are kind of arcane reasons, but they're very important- Like one day I learned how the reactor would always homogenize its composition. That may not sound like a big deal but to a reactor designer that's a humongous deal. It's just of absolutely incredible performance. I'm sitting here thinking- You guys should build this machine if you only picked one reason it should be for that reason because if would make it so much easier for you to design and operate the reactor. And I brought it up to my professor- he was talking about how current reactors work- I said did you realize this design would always have a homogenous composition, and he goes- I never thought about that. From cyberspace, from Kirk Sorensen, who is with the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. He would like for you to comment on the Molten Salt Reactor program. The molten salt people included the most famous figures in nuclear energy, in particular Eugene Wigner, are all dying off. We don't have people building molten salt reactors now. The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment was one of the most important and, I must say, brilliant achievements of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. And I hope that after I'm gone people will look at the dusty books that were written on molten salts and will say- Hey, these guys had a pretty good idea let's go back to it. Once you learn something, you know, you can't pretend you didn't learn it and you can't pretend you don't know what a powerful thing this is. And- You can choose to do that. But that's not the moral choice to make, right? To ignore it. To pretend you didn't learn it. So the moral thing, the right thing to do is to do what we're doing. Which is, in my opinion, it's sort of the bare minimum. Well I've been in this energy game for about 10 years now. No one's ever told me there was a safer, more sustainable form of nuclear. So I was kind of instantly interested. So I kept thinking about it occasionally, and I kept in touch with Kirk a little bit. And then Fukushima happened. This is great, this is just what I wanted to have happen. Is for her talking to these guys, and getting that straight dope. Oh, man, it's just perfect. Dick Engel is probably the most knowledgeable person around these days, right? I've never met Syd I've read all his papers. I've actually extracted all the text from them, converted it all, rebuilt- I mean I have- I don't know if there's anybody who's studied his stuff more than me. I was so tickled when I found out he was alive. I mean how do you feel about the reactor now? It sounds like kind of a boring job in a way. Did you feel fondly towards this reactor design? Oh yes. It wasn't at all boring. I mean boring in the sense- it was safe. It did exactly what we calculated it ought to do. And that's pretty satisfying. I think it would unleash a lot of human potential which is currently not being fulfilled. Standard of living does correlate quite well with access to energy. Throughout her life she had been heating water with firewood, and she had hand washed laundry for 7 children. And now, she was going to watch electricity do that work. There's a great talk on TED by Hans Rosling, how women in the 50s, when they started to have washing machines, became suddenly hugely more productive. To my grandmother, the washing machine was a miracle. Washing clothes is a really unproductive task. It's just repetitive, you have to keep doing it. You're not creating anything that's sustaining anyone really, it's just time wasted. So 2 billion have access to washing machines. And the remaining 5 billion, how do they wash? How do most of the women in the world wash? They wash like this. By hand. It's a time consuming labor, hours every week. And sometimes they also have to bring water from far away. And they want the washing machine! And there's nothing different in their wish than from my grandmother 2 generations ago in Sweden, water from the stream, heating with firewood, washing like that. They want the washing machine in exactly the same way. But when I lecture environmentally concerned students they tell me, no, not everybody in the world can have cars and washing machines. How many of you don't use a car, and some of them proudly raise their hand and say- I don't use a car. And then I put the really tough question- How many of you hand wash your jeans and your bedsheets? And no one raised their hand. Soon as you could get a machine to do that for you that time became time for the family and he said that's when he sat down with his mom and started to learn to read with her. And that would happen multiplied over all these women suddenly have much more capacity for being more nurturing, being more productive. It's a great empowerer to have energy and to do things for us that are just routine, rote tasks. Huge fractions of the developing world, women spend all day looking for sources of water. And, when they get to the water, it is typically filthy. And- Parasites, disease, etc. I mean, if you could have clean water, disease and parasite-free water for homes- you would liberate an enormous amount of time. And you'd increase the health of the people. There's a lot of things we just throw away because the energy to re-use them is more expensive than virgin material. Dig it out of the ground, turn it into something, you use it, you smash it, then you throw it back in a pit in the ground. Ultimately it means you just leave one big hole in the ground over here and start filling up another hole over there. Is that sustainable? Perhaps there's a more closed-loop system that could be employed. That's the dream. But that does require energy. That was one of the things that attracted me about the notion of exploring space was that you had to implement that simply to survive. If you were going to live on the Moon or Mars, there was no pit over here and pit over there. You better figure out how to make it all stay. Every atom of nitrogen or oxygen or hydrogen became precious to you. When I would tell people why are we doing NASA, that was the most effective thing was the whole idea of recycling and what we would learn from exploring space. What prevents us from doing that right now on Earth? I mean, why do we have to go to space to learn how to be really, really good recyclers? Why don't we recycle like that on Earth? It was energy, you know- Energy has to be really, really cheap or the penalty has to be really, really bad. Now, in space, the penalty was really, really bad. If you didn't recycle, you ran out of air and water. But, on the ground, to go achieve that dream of a closed loop, you need to have really, really cheap energy. For example in the copper mining space, when they extract the copper- They'll do a first pass, and then leave it as a mound. And they'll wait until the price of copper goes high enough. There's a price at which you can justify doing a second, third or more passes. It's all a function of what's the energy input and what's the market price. And when those reach parity, you can go in and justify more extraction. Well the same is true with recycling materials. If we can bring the cost of electricity down far enough, we can conceivably go back and recycle landfills. Appliances, we chop up old rail cars. Demolished bridges, buildings. Whatever. We load scrap into large haul trucks. Back up into this bucket and dump scrap inside. That's dozens of cars. Yeah. A lot of cars. That bucket probably has 140 tons of scrap metal in it right now. I told them if they see anything go boom to run behind you. That's still the standard protocol? That's right I've got Kevlar on. Alright you guys do the same we're all getting behind- So you've been able to drop your power consumption per ton almost by a third it looks like. Probably since the mid-early-80s. So besides your scrap material input, what's you next largest cost on production? Electricity. Electricity. How's your water use? We're evaporatively cooling. We use about 2.5 million gallons a day. So we're pretty big water users. Which is about a tenth of what the paper mills use. But you can get far more recycles on steel or aluminum than you could out of paper or plastic. Oh, sure. Yeah, actually it is debatable whether paper recycling is even that great a pursuit. In some cases it is mandated, but- This is one where economics drive the recycling. But the steel industry is probably one of the better models of recycling. Aluminum too would be. There's less given over to waste. If we could make energy cheap enough there's a lot of other products you could make economic to recycle. Absolutely. It's easy to forget about that in our world here on Earth because we're so extracted from our energy sources. Food is at the grocery store. We flush the toilet and the waste goes somewhere, where someone takes care of them. We don't really think about the flow of energy that makes all of this possible. With the energy generated we could actually recycle all of the air, water, and waste products within the lunar community. In fact doing so would be an absolute requirement for success. We could grow the crops needed to feed the members of the community even during the 2 week lunar night using light and power from the reactor. It kind of was this microcosm that made it easier for me to understand the bigger picture that we have going on here on Earth and how we can make the bigger picture better. How we can enhance our quality of life here on Earth. When I think of our golden era of space exploration, the late 1950s through the early 1970s- Over that time very few weeks would go by before there'd be an article in a magazine, a cover story would extol- The City of Tomorrow. I mean why wouldn't we want a community of the future to be self-sustaining and energy independent? The same energy generation and recycling techniques that could have a powerful impact on surviving on the moon could also have a powerful impact on surviving on the Earth. And people love that. They think you're naive to be optimistic. We are going to make the future better than the past. We're going to figure out our problems and we're going to get past them. What's your project? My project is on reducing carbon emissions and I choose to do so with nuclear. I talk a bit on the oil-sands, on how nuclear can help. For example generating the steam for Sag-D. People were mostly interested in the LFTR, talking about the thorium. They liked that better as an alternative because uranium really has a bad rap. Has it directed you in your life? I want to be a nuclear physicist. You do eh? Yeah. I was going to be a music teacher. I had my heart set on it. That's what I went to school for, music education. When I heard about thorium, I just thought to myself- Music is great, I love it, but it's just insignificant to the challenges the human race is experiencing. Because of my former experience as a reactor operator for the U.S. Navy, I got it, I understood it right away. I made a 2 minute video for a science video competition. In the 1950s Alvin Weinberg, director of Oak Ridge National Labs was tasked with building a nuclear reactor. Today we learn that we can run this type of reactor on thorium. I've been trying to get people in my generation to do the good stuff that needs to happen on energy issues for 30 years. The title of my talk is- Thorium and Molten Salt Reactors: Improving Public Knowledge and Awareness. With us being in chemical engineering we have a background in liquid-liquid extraction- The fission products are more soluble in the bismuth stream than in the salt stream, so they will be transferred when they contact. It was nice to finally have a technical audience. Yeah. Oh my gosh. It's going to be up to you guys. You high-school students and you college people, to pull us out. So you can do good for my grand-kids and everything. And you know what, they get it, they know it. I didn't grow up around oh we gotta fight the Russians we gotta fight the communists. You don't have a searing image of a mushroom cloud in your head, probably. No. Absolutely not. I really want to work on LFTR. I really want to work on thorium technology. I know everyone I talk to about this technology, we're all engineers so we're all geeky that way, but everyone's super excited here about the potential. Because it's really quite cool. We're going to try and get a teacher in every single school to teach molten salt chemistry and molten salt class. I love to see you all here, but it's for me and it's for my children. I've love to see more companies coming up with codes, coming up with reactor designs, and I would love to jump on board. My desire, when I was a younger man, was to get involved in alternative energy. I hadn't really seen anything about thorium or molten salt reactors at all. And that TED Talk was the one where Kirk was in town talking about LFTR. Thorium has an electromagnetic signature that makes it easy to find even from a spacecraft. Here's an actual map of where the lunar thorium is located. When I pitched this story to Wired Magazine. There were 6 editors around a table, they're pretty well informed science and technology journalists, and not a single one of them had heard of thorium. We were working on nuclear engines, working on really far out stuff. I'm in this buddy of mine's office. He's got this book on his shelf and the book was called "Fluid Fuel Reactors. He used to work at Oak Ridge National Labs in Tennessee and he said- I just went to the library and I got this old book. It was written in 1958. I've been meaning to look through it. I said well, hey, can I borrow this book? Big old thick book, it was about 1,000 pages. Oh boy. Whew! But it was intriguing enough to me and it seemed really different than the kind of nuclear energy that we have now. They also mention in this book a lot about thorium. Thorium, thorium, thorium. I was like- Dude, what the heck is thorium? Thorium is a naturally occurring radioactive substance found just about everywhere on this planet. We have lots and lots of thorium. And it has some unique properties. One of them is- If you hit thorium with a neutron, the thorium will absorb the neutron- and t will turn from Thorium-232 into Thorium-233. It's going to decay into Protactinium-233, and then it will decay in about a month to Uranium-233. Uranium-233, if you hit it with a neutron, it will fission. In addition to releasing all that energy, it will release 2 or 3 additional neutrons. Alright- So you need 1 of those neutrons to go find another thorium. And you need another 1 of those neutrons to go find another Uranium-233, to continue the reaction. You've fissioning Uranium-233 but you're making a new one. You can almost think about it as a pseudo-catalyst. If you had some Uranium-233 you could catalyse the burning of thorium indefinitely. When Shippingport was shut down for the last time, in 1982, the examination showed there was more fissile material, more Uranium-233 in the fuel than there was when they started. Thorium breeding worked. It was actually done and demonstrated. Not in a molten salt reactor, but in a light-water reactor. Well you're really coupling 2 different technologies as far as history proving them out. You have Shippingport that proved the thorium fuel cycle. And then you have molten salt reactors that prove the liquid fuel form. The Oak Ridge plan was to couple- I mean they designed the MSRE for a thorium fuel cycle. Their design- They didn't do it. That was their plan but they never got there. But it was- It wasn't like somebody said- Oh gee put thorium in MSR I never thought of that before! Today's reactors are fueled by a rare isotope of Uranium: Uranium-235. To fuel a reactor with abundant material is called BREEDING. Breeder reactors take naturally common isotopes and turn them into man-made isotopes that can be split apart to release energy. Shippingport was a breeder which used pressurized water as a coolant. To combine pressurized water, with the breeding of nuclear fuel, is a particularly expensive approach. With breeder reactors, coolant choice greatly impacts the cost of operations. Even more so than with inefficient non-breeders. The real object of this reactor is to learn about pressurized water reactors for atomic power. It will not be cheap to operate. It will be no cheaper to operate than Wright's Kitty Hawk would have been to carry passengers around. At the present time, reactor design is an art, it is not a science. We are trying to make a science out of it. Shippingport's Thorium fuel load was a proof-of-concept, and not an economic breeder design. At Oak Ridge, Wigner saw Molten Salt as a way of economically breeding natural Thorium into Uranium-233. At Argonne, Fermi saw Liquid Metal as a way of economically breeding natural Uranium into Plutonium. Both uranium and Plutonium can be and are of course peacefully used, and alleviate a great deal of human suffering. But- I must admit, there is that lingering notion of how they were used terribly in weapons at one time, that does make it difficult for the public to accept forms of energy that have that connection, and- Thorium, fortunately, was never employed in that manner and so probably has a neutral feeling in most people's minds. They don't really have an opinion one way or the other about thorium any more than they would about dysprosium or something else on the periodic table. Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Nein! Well this was war time. Their plan was to make bombs. They took natural uranium and they separated those 2 isotopes. They would highly enrich Uranium-235 from less than 1% up to like 90-plus percent. Took big factories, very difficult to do isotopic enrichment. But this is how they made the uranium for the first nuclear weapon used in war. This was the bomb at Hiroshima. It was called "Little Boy. Then they said- Well, what can we do with all this junk Uranium-238, the 99.3% of it? You could expose it to neutrons, and you could make it into Plutonium. Now, plutonium is a different chemical element than uranium, so they can be chemically separated. Because Uranium-235 and Uranium-238 are identical chemically. There's no chemical difference between them. But there is a chemical difference between plutonium and uranium, so it was a lot easier to do a chemical separation of the plutonium you'd made. And that's also how they made the Nagasaki bomb which was called "Fat Man. OK, well, maybe we can do the same thing with thorium. Maybe we can expose it to neutrons, and we can make it into Uranium-233. Uranium will be chemically separable from thorium, and we can go make a bomb out of it, right? Sounds great. It's a really bad idea, because as you made the Uranium-233, you were always making Uranium-232. You didn't make a lot of it you only made a little bit of it. But, Uranium-232 is much more radioactive than Uranium-233. Here's the decay chain that Uranium-232 is on. It jumps down to Bismuth-212 and Thallium-208 and these 2 decay products put out very, very strong gamma rays. And these gamma rays are just super bad news if you want to go and build a practical nuclear device. Because they tell everybody where the stuff is, and they kill you. So really quickly they were going, okay, we can work with Uranium-235, that seems okay. We can work with plutonium, that seems okay, but this Uranium-233 stuff that's bad news for making a nuclear weapon. So thorium was just set aside. Run! The Wolverine. PG-13. Well, after the war, they picked up on this again because now they were thinking- Let's talk about making power instead of making nuclear weapons. And so what happened is they put resources into the plutonium-breeder reactor almost from the get-go. They built the Experimental Breeder Reactor One in 1951. This was the first reactor that made electricity. Four little light bulbs here. This was a breeder reactor. It was designed to convert plutonium into energy while making new plutonium. This was not a light water reactor! This predated the light-water reactor by years! Early nuclear pioneers like Enrico Fermi and Eugene Wigner saw the future quite a bit differently. Fermi believed that we should really focus our efforts on the fast-breeder reactor. Eugene Wigner on the other hand, reached a different conclusion which was that thorium was a superior fuel. And this opened up a number of possibilities with coolants and reactor configurations. They by-in-large said: We're going to go the plutonium route. And one of the reasons why, was they developed a great deal of understanding about plutonium from the weapons program. They had made the stuff. They had worked with its chemistry. They'd made fuel out of it. They go- We get this. Thorium? We haven't really messed with thorium. You know, it would be like starting over. So that propensity there was to go and do what you already knew how to do. And the plutonium was so much better developed than the thorium. Because the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor uses liquid sodium as coolant, and because sodium has a higher boiling point than water at atmospheric pressure, the coolant in a liquid metal fast breeder does not need to be pressurized. Pressurized Water Reactor has thick pipe. Where as here we have relatively thin pipe. So then- both types of breeder reactors, the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder and the Molten Salt Breeder can avoid the cost and complexity associated with containing pressurized water coolant which may flash to steam. However, the chemical stability of Molten Salt coolant, and the ability of Molten Salt to secure radioactive isotopes within strong chemical bonds is not shared by sodium. It's stored under an oil, to stop air or moisture getting on it. Reacts very, very quickly with air and also with water. The hydroxide is a white crust on the outside. Alright, go. Booooo. They built the reactor and put it in a sub and ended up cutting the reactor out of the sub and putting a LWR in it. They became disenchanted with sodium cooling rather quickly. What happens if there's a leak? Sodium reacts with the air and the water. Well you haven't got air next door to your sodium surfaces. It's inerted. With Liquid Metal Fast Breeders, the advantage of a coolant operating near atmospheric pressure must be weighed against the use of that same coolant which also reacts rapidly to air at high temperature, and violently to water at any temperature. Milton Shaw wanted Alvin Weinberg and Oak Ridge to get on the fast breeder funding wagon. Weinberg wanted to stay on with thorium and molten salts. Well it was pretty obvious that Shaw was completely convinced that LMFBR- with its sodium cooled system was going to be successful. If we have a winner here, why spend money on what we know is going to be the loser? This breeding principle holds the key to our efficient use of our atomic fuel resources of uranium and thorium. This atomic power plant in Michigan is named after Enrico Fermi. A breeder type of reactor. Great amounts of research and testing go into the design and construction to make them efficient, and above all, to make them safe. BREEDER REACTOR has taken on a strongly negative connotation. In 1966 a Liquid Metal Breeder Reactor suffered a meltdown. This incident led to the book and song- WE ALMOST LOST DETROIT. However, in 1986, twenty years after the accident, another Liquid Metal Breeder Reactor, running at full power, underwent a controlled system blackout. We took EBR-2 to 100% power, and we gagged the safety system so the emergency control rods would not go in if they were told to. And then we turned off the main coolant pumps. And you pulled on your helmets! Well it sounds dangerous but it wasn't. No control rods were inserted. No human intervention was involved. They just turned off the pumps, and waited. The temperature climbed, held, and then began to drop. The core tends to expand thermally a little bit as it heats up. The fuel expands the clad expands, the core support structure expands, the core plate underneath expands. And now more neutrons leak out, and don't contribute to the chain reaction. And now there's natural circulation going on inside this big vessel. We can design it so that natural air circulation on the outside would occur so you would never, ever need to take operator action. The trouble is, these tests were done about 2 weeks before Chernobyl. Yes I was aware of that it was- And so no one- No one even knew about this which was a shame. Bob? This was not commercialized, right? We were going to. It was called Clinch River. I was working on Clinch River. And then- We're eliminating programs that are no longer needed such as nuclear power research and development. This administration does not support the Department of Energy's Advanced Liquid Metal Reactor Program, and will oppose any efforts to continue funding this reactor project. In 1994, during the Clinton administration, the last American breeder reactor program was cancelled. This is not a dream. This is real. We know how to do these things. Nobody was the light water reactor as the machine on which we would power our civilization using nuclear power for thousands of years. The only question is, which breeder, and how fast do we get to it? I mean, I've got a 1962 report to The President and right in there it states, this is a stop-gap technology. I think these early nuclear pioneers would be absolutely floored to show up today in our nuclear world and go- Gosh, you're still using light water reactors? I mean come on guys- We should have seen more technology advancement by now. We should have seen something better. Successful breeder reactor tests have never been publicly celebrated. The advantages outweigh the difficulties. You can handle this molten salt reliably- and when things go wrong, we were able to fix. The concept is ultimately going to be practical applications. CANCELLED, PLUTONIUM and MELTDOWN- would be the words most commonly associated with BREEDER REACTOR. Pandora's Promise came out and they're talking about the fast reactor. Is there any uptick in interest in this now? I think it has motivated some people who had been either skeptical of nuclear or were antinuclear to re-think. So I'm Robert Stone I'm the director of PANDORA'S PROMISE, which is the documentary which chronicles the conversion of a number of high-profile environmentalists from being anti-nuclear to pro-nuclear. And their process of conversion on this issue very much mirrors my own. On opening night I polled the audience. I was actually surprised that 20% admitted to being pro-nuclear art Sundance but they raised their hands. Q&A after the film, and I asked the same question. And that was the response. Until PANDORA'S PROMISE in 2013 there was no compelling video explanation of the Liquid Metal Reactor's safety test for the public to digest. That same year, a video of molten salt researchers was posted to YouTube, explaining how the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment safely compensated for an equipment malfunction thanks to the passive safety enabled by molten salt. Molten salt is inherently safe, you know, self controlling. Just about any molten salt concept that has been seriously considered has been shown to have this stable behavior. This is an old facility look down before you walk, that is our biggest hazard here right now. Oh! Oh my goodness! Yes, yes! I've modelled this shape neutronically. It is like a lead pencil isn't it? Yes, it's graphite. We just returned from a trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratories and one of the exciting things that the Baronesse and I got to do was to tour the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, which was one of these types of reactors that was built in the 1960s. Decades ago, we successfully demonstrated passive safety features of the competing breeder reactors. We took EBR-2 to 100% power, then we turned off the main coolant pumps. The fuel expands the clad expands. Now more neutrons leak out, and don't contribute to the chain reaction. Safety is one of the most important reasons to consider very seriously Molten Salt Reactors and this is because of the clever implementation that was demonstrated in the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. A small port in the bottom of the reactor that was kept plugged. And to keep the port plugged, they has a blower that would blow cool gas over it. So there was a little plug of frozen salt there. If the power went out, the blower turned off, and the heat would melt the frozen plug and guess what- Sploosh, everything would drain out of the reactor- into this drain tank, and the difference between the drain tank and the reactor vessel is that the reactor vessel is not meant to lose any thermal energy. The only place you wanted to lose thermal energy was to give it up in the primary heat exchanger. The drain tank on the other hand is designed to maximize the rejection of thermal energy to the environment. I'm a mechanical engineer. So all we ever talked about in school was how to add heat to things and take heat out of things. One of the hard things about designing a nuclear reactor is to design it to not lose any heat while you're running it because you want that heat to go over to the steam turbine. You don't want to lose a bunch of heat in normal operation. But to then turn around and try keep it cool if something goes wrong. So there's 2 conflicting things. The great thing about liquid fluoride reactors is you can design them completely separately. You can say here's my reactor and it's designed to make heat. And here's the drain tank and it's designed to cool in all situations. Decades ago we turned naturally abundant isotopes of uranium, and thorium, into energy. Shippingport, a light water breeder, was captured on film. The liquid metal fast breeders were also captured on film. And when you present that to somebody's who's been antinuclear their whole life they go, huh? Did you know that? And most people are like- No I never knew that. People say- I never knew that. And they think. That's why thorium, like- Do you know you can power a reactor with thorium? They go, what's that? Clearly, someone also shot film footage of Glenn Seaborg standing in front of the Molten Salt Reactor discussing the thorium fuel cycle. I can not find this film. I can not show you any film footage of an operating molten salt reactor. Only a handful of pictures exist. It's like NASA landed a man on the moon, and then lost the film. This makes for an interesting communications challenge. I was driving home from work in April of 2006, and I was listening to a piece on the radio from NPR. And it was talking about the importance of proper branding. And that M was a bad sound. Muh. It was kind of a- They were saying L was one of the best sounds. M was one of the worst sounds. So I'm sitting there thinking about the M S B R. The Mmmuhhh. You know, the Molten Salt Breeder Reactor and I thought- Hmmm. Molten: bad. Salt: bad. I thought well how can we fix this? Well instead of saying Molten we could say Liquid. Because it is liquid. And liquid turns an M to an L, and according to this L is a lot better letter than an M. There are a lot of different kind of salts. So if we were more specific on the salt- we could say Fluoride, which is a salt. It's a particular kind of salt. Breeder is kind of a generic term, and what we're really doing is using Thorium as a fuel. So all of a sudden there it was, L F T R. One of the things I learned at NASA was, you really want your acronyms to be sayable. If they have more than 3 letters, you want to be able to say them like a word. And it's like it just appeared. There it was: L F T R. Lifter. You could say it. It was a word. Well as a marketing student I'd have a lot different approach, but- Hey, you know what? We need guys just like you. Any other marketing students here? This stuff- there's almost a branding effort that needs to happen. How do you tell a story saying this is different? I used to think, when I was y'alls age, I was an aerospace engineer I didn't know anything about nuclear. I thought nuclear power was dumb. I had no interest in it. I was like- Old junk. Who would want to be into that? It wasn't until I learned about thorium and I reallized these efficiencies were possible that I began getting really interested. You know- Don't do New Coke, but what do you do? How do you help people understand that there really are alternative possibilities out there? We need guys like you thinking about this. You can come to one of the conferences. Talk to your friends. Tell people about it. I mean the biggest problem we have is getting the message out. A guy got on yesterday and he said- Why don't we buy a full page ad? Because that costs a lot of money. Why don't you go tell 5 of your friends about it that doesn't cost anything. And it's probably a whole lot more effective. It was only developed at Oak Ridge. So no other national laboratories really participated in the development, which is not true about any other- about most other types of reactors where the effort was spread and many people participated. This was really only in the Oak Ridge, before the age of internet. I think it was some time in 2006 when I discovered Kirk's site- Energy from thorium- and learned about Molten Salt Reactors. Kirk Sorensen, he is what brought molten salts to the fore. It's pretty much all on his shoulders and he should be lauded for that. It's outstanding what he has done. Kirk gave me some CDs, and then he put them on the internet. And of course, to me that was a game changer. That was an inflection point. Before, I sounded like a nut. And I couldn't point- Unless you were physically with me, and I could bring down- I have a copy of Fluid Fuel Reactors showing the Molten Salt Reactor in it and the Aircraft Reactor Experiment. Matter of fact, it has a picture and in the background there's a stepladder shows you the scale. It was half the size of your refrigerator, and it put out 2 million watts of heat! And it operated in 1954, I wasn't even on the planet then. You know, we can have world peace, and we can specialize in what areas that we're good at, and trade with one another, and not fight over limited resources. There's some chemical differences between thorium and uranium. Bleached by water, Uranium compounds were widely dispersed. And having been scattered far and wide, Uranium compounds today are found as complex, generally dilute deposits containing mixtures of tetra, penta and hexa-valent uranium. Unlike uranium, tetra-valent thorium- and it's constantly tetra-valent- resists weathering. Thorium thus remained concentrated where it first wound up- within easy reach. Barack Obama, and I've heard other people say this before, they say that there's no silver bullet to the energy crisis. Molten salts are truly the best silver bullet for serving mankind. It unlocks thorium economically, and as we know, thorium is so plentiful in the Earth's crust. It'll come as a byproduct for hundreds of thousands of years. And, in fact, if we- on purpose- wanted to mine the granite just for its thorium, we're not going to run out until the Sun becomes a red giant. Alvin Weinberg called it burning the rocks. You could literally mine rock just for its energy content. Glenn Seaborg realized this in 1944 and he was absolutely dumbfounded with the possibilities of what it meant for the future. The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment has operated successfully and has earned a reputation for reliability. I think that some day the world will have commercial power reactors of both the uranium-plutonium and the thorium-uranium fuel cycle types. Here he was watching nations wage war with each other in World War 2 and realizing this could be a complete game changer and change the entire energy outlook of the future. You know EFT bloggers noticed all these guys from China from graduate school computer modelers started showing up on EFT signing up from Shanghai, Beijing, and they started asking all these obvious questions about this and that. How they make the code work. They were all modelling it, the Chinese government as best as we could tell. Did you say Chinese is building nuclear reactors so where are they getting the blueprints or are they developing them? Well they probably got a whole bunch of stuff from the PDFs from my website. Gone through your logs to see how many are coming from China? It's been in the public domain for an awful long time. I just made it a little easier to get, you know? China announced to their national press of the existence of a well funded Molten Salt Reactor project. And it's being run by a guy named Jiang Mianheng. He got his PhD in electrical engineering from Drexel University, he was educated in the United States. The really interesting thing about Dr. Jiang Mianheng is that his father's name is Jiang Zemin, and he used to be the premier of China. So, when I found that out I thought- This is not some shmoe here, this is probably someone who's got some resources behind him. And if he says he's going to go build a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor well then I tend to think he's probably going to do it. So, ever since finding that out I've been really encouraging people in the United States, and England, and Canada, and Japan, and just about anywhere- I said, you know it would be maybe a good idea if we got going on this because, uh, these guys are probably going to pull it off, and you know, good, I hope they do. China definitely needs clean energy. Absolutely. And thorium will provide them clean energy for hundreds of thousands of years. But, frankly, I'd really like us to be able to do it too. And I'd like it to be something maybe we develop rather than that we go buy. We buy a lot of things from China already. You know, I mean, it's not as if we're not buying enough things from China. We are definitely keeping them busy. So let's- you know- let's go develop thorium. And, uh, that's really what I'd like to do. You know one of the fun things about being mayor is that you come to the science fair to see the projects of some people that are close to you, and next thing you know you're standing on stage in front of 1,000 people. It tends to happen. Hi, I'm Joe Willis, and this is my science fair project- DECARBONIZE ALBERTA, and this is just a dry-run for a science fair which is in a week. What is this, you brainwashed your son into being a proponent of the nuclear industry? Why? Why, man, why?!? No it's the other way around actually, I was the first critic. Joe Willis for Decarbonize Alberta. Wait, what, that's me? I got a thorium documentary, I watched it with my dad and naturally he fell asleep through the entire thing. And I'm telling him how thorium can save the world and he's not agreeing with me at all. So I put it in the second time, and he falls asleep. Yeah, I got the gold medal, I got the second consumer science award, and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration & Air Conditioning and although that one's name sounds like something for air conditioning it's for air quality. I try to portray science as exciting and fun with Katie and Caysie Science Videos. Caysie is my miniature poodle she's 3 years old. I thought that if we adopted the LFTR then we would have a much better future. If we educate people, then they may understand nuclear power, and they may become supportive. You need this stuff explained in layman's terms so the average Joe on the street gets it the way the average Joe on the street gets the basic beats of an internal combustion engine. They made an information package that they tried to be relatively neutral, that they could give to people and then ask for their opinion on nuclear power. People were meh- not really opposed, not really in favor. When they did focus groups where they brought 12 people in, left the same information and then left the room and let them talk, then went back, pulled the people apart, anonymously, the approval ratings were amazing. It's probably you at least get 1 or 2 people that knows enough that the other people trust, that can explain it to them, so, if we can explain it better to the public I think that will go a long way. For me, I think it's education. At all levels. We talked about, on the board, educating candidates and people in political office. But I think there's also the general public. Make them aware of what's possible. And get them interested in the sciences at the lower ages and say, yes, I want to be working on something that can power the world in the future. In addition to being an engineer, he really is an educator. He really is a teacher. And he was beginning to spend more and more and more time- mostly educating. This stuff, this is laws of physics stuff. I didn't invent it. All I do is promote it. He got a phone call from a stranger and spent probably 45 minutes on the phone really being patient with the specifics. I'm tapping at my watch. We need to start today to get young people interested in this area. The molten salt chemistry. The metallurgy. The radiochemistry. Even the civil engineering. We have to start that supply chain almost from scratch. Are their labs going to be integrated into this curriculum? Or is there any way to leave those out? I know that was really the biggest challenge, getting the supplies to develop a lab for our curriculum. But still any molten salt is going to require a furnace of some type. Most of the nuclear engineering schools have lost their operating reactors in the past 20 years. So they're teaching- It'd be like teaching you how to operate on a car with a shop manual but no car. So there's students learning how to run nuclear reactors with nothing to learn on just sort of reading about it. China has built a huge network of training reactors. They did it in, like, a couple years. We did a journey to just about every nuclear engineering school and we said how would you like to have a salt loop? It would be just be externally heated. It wouldn't be fueled so it couldn't generate its own heat, but- in every other conceivable way, especially if you had neutronic stand-ins, you know, it would act exactly like a Molten Salt Reactor would. You can show the scientific phenomena, the chemical and physical phenomena, without breaking the bank. Would that be utilized by other departments as well? Absolutely! You'd need an XRD, basically to look at the crystal pre and post. And those type of equipment span the gamut from biological sciences to geo-sciences, engineering- If they're going to have a training reactor they might as well have a Gen 4 training reactor not a Gen 1. That's what they have now, down at U of I, that's being dismantled. MIT and Harvard, even they can't afford to build their own telescope any more just by themselves- So Harvard and Berkeley and University of Chicago and MIT get together and they all say we'll pitch in and we'll share it. So you've got all of these people excited now- I hope so is everybody excited?- The molten salt reactor- Well plus you mention nuclear to anyone and their initial reaction is: nuclear energy oh, there's no way we could learn this stuff I don't want to do that class it's going to be too hard. I was really encouraged by the Chicago meeting we were at, was the number of young kids that were there. And I mean like- I suppose I don't mean kids- like, college age- How knowledgeable. How enthusiastic. And that kind of gives me hope. And I can tell you that is not going on in the conventional nuclear industry. We haven't produced very many nuclear engineers. I taught a class of senior level engineering students at Tennessee Tech in the fall of 2010. There were 13 in the class. And they didn't even have nuclear at Tennessee so these were Electricals and Chemicals. Um- 5 of them went on to grad school in nuclear engineering because of my course. I wanted to- like- write the NRC and say- You've told them the best situation you can possibly have is to be part of a massive decommissioning contract. I mean- How many people want to spend their careers doing that? When a nation dreams big, and has fully funded projects, visible to everyone, where a frontier is getting advanced, daily Innovations attract smart, clever people. The prospect of innovation attracts them. Everyone feels like tomorrow is something they want to invent, and bring into the present. You know, you guys should elect an engineer president. Well that's what the Chinese do. You know all our political leaders are lawyers and all China's political leaders are engineers- heh heh- so- oh gosh. We're going broke. We're mired in debt. We don't have as many scientists as we want or need. And jobs are going overseas. I assert that these are not isolated problems. That they are the collective consequence of the absence of ambition that consumes you when you stop having dreams. If all you do is coast, eventually you slow down, while others catch up, and pass you by. Why nuclear energy? Especially, after what happened in Japan? Why Molten Salt Reactor? Why Thorium? And last but not least, why China is the first one to eat the crab? That's Chinese saying. Uh, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has begun an effort to develop what they call T-MSR, Thorium Molten Salt Reactor. And it's really along these same lines. And they are well funded, and well staffed. We have 300 people working full time on this. They know that those are the same people who are going to turn around and operate and maintain those reactors. I give them great credit. It's very compelling work. Chinese are definitely in the lead right now on this. 1994 the State of California passed a law of the zero emissions. And GM's EV1 came out in 1996 because they want very much like to catch the market of the California. The big oils heavily lobbying East Coast, not to follow the same track as California did. Finally, GM called back all the EV1s from the market, and crashed them in 2004. It's- it's- it's something to me like- like- like World War 2 Nazi. It's amazing. It's a very scary story here. Here is pure electric car developed by Chinese Academy of Sciences. We used to have a dream- if we can produce clean electricity then we can drive our electrical car. However- if you look at this- as of today- it's all gasoline cars. So it makes our job even impossible. We need a revolutionary something happen. Why thorium? And why MSR? Low pressure here, which give you more safety. We also end up with the high temperature here. We need high temperature. Because, if you can go 900 degrees C, then we can use this energy to- convert the CO2, which is not the waste at all- is a raw material for our chemicals, in fact. We need the energy to convert them. We need the high temperature. There's all sorts of very, very interesting chemistry that we have never had the opportunity to look at because we've never had a cheap energy platform at those temperatures. With a heat platform like a Molten Salt Reactor you can do any number of high temperature reactions. We're still going to need liquid fuels for vehicles and machinery. But we could generate these fuels from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and from water, much like nature does. We could generate hydrogen by splitting water and combining it with carbon harvested from CO2 in the atmosphere- making fuels like methanol, ammonia, and dimethyl-ether, which could be a direct replacement for diesel fuels. The whole planet's transportation system is gauged toward the consumption of a fossil fuel. There's an entire internal combustion infrastructure on the planet. Imagine carbon neutral gasoline and diesel sustainable and self produced. -a way of getting the full lifecycle out of the infrastructure we've already built up. Because you don't want to just abandon the infrastructure we've already built up. We have trillions of dollars of internal combustion machinery around. But we need to at least stop putting more stuff into the air. The opportunities abound. I couldn't even tell you. I just- There's so many possibilities. I wouldn't- I wouldn't even want to predict. Wouldn't even want to. Alright, so- This the work that's actually going on at NRL today, this is not a theoretical possibility. The ocean or rivers, as it's pointed out, is full of carbon dioxide and hydrogen. There's lots of this everywhere on the planet. In fact, seven-tenths of the Earth's surface is covered with water. We are looking here at the electrolytic cation exchange module. This is on version 3. Here's the skid that's used down at Naval Air Station Key West. What's going on is pretty simple. We're pumping electricity into this module up here. We're pulling carbonic acid, HCO3, out of the water. By the way, per unit gallon we get about a 92% removal from it. Then we're using standard electrolysis to crack water in order to make hydrogen. And what do you do with it? You string the carbon together with your hydrogen, and let's get into the fuels business. Here is the spectrum for JP-5, which is the standard fuel used to run all the aircraft. A bit like a classic bell curve. What you're seeing is the spectrum- based upon carbon content of the individual hydrocarbons as you make this guy out of oil. So this is anybody. Exxon, BP, Shell, whoever you want to name it- pulling petroleum out of the ground, fractionally distilling it, and making JP-5 according to the military specification. So what happens coming out of our machine down at Naval Air Station Key West? Now look at this, we've got a decay curve. Because we're manufacturing the fuels synthetically we're able to control the carbon content and get a better concentration of the C10 hydrocarbons that we want than you can get from natural oil. So what this turns out is that the synthetically made aviation fuel actually has a higher energy density and is cleaner. It doesn't have the sulfur compounds in it, it doesn't have the nitrates in it. All of the really nasty stuff that comes out of burning a fossil fuel we don't have, and we have a better power density profile making this stuff artificial. If you can do just basic high school chemistry, if we can get hydrogen and CO2 from seawater you have the fundamental building blocks right there for making any hydrocarbon fuel you want. Burn the fuel it will go into the air, it'll get absorbed into the ocean, pulled out of the ocean, turned into fuel, burned and back into the air. So your car works beautifully just as today but it's not running on oil. But it's still running on the same fuel you have today. It's not a real airplane, I admit it. However, you're looking at it in the air- flying on fuel that was made from sea water and electricity. What do you do about civilian aviation? Are we going to move to a world where only the highest of our elected officials fly around the world when the rest of us get to walk? Because there is no substitute for aviation fuel if you want to get in the air. We're not going to have solar powered aircraft. We're not going to have hydrogen fuel powered aircraft anytime soon. We're looking at some total radical technology breakthrough if you want to fly. The hydrocarbonic acid in the ocean is in equilibrium with the CO2 in the atmosphere. It's a very simple test. Seal up a fish-tank, fill saltwater in the bottom, don't let any air into it. Run your probes in there, pull carbonic acid out of the bottom. Read your CO2 level on the air above it and watch the CO2 level in the atmosphere drop. Every time you take a piece of carbon out of the ocean it is the same as taking it out of the atmosphere. It will pass from the air into the water. When you send an aircraft up in the air and it's running on fuel you made by taking carbonic acid out of the ocean, you have a virtual carbon cycle. You are not adding CO2 at all. It's carbon-free fuel that is carbon and burns in our existing engines. So what we're going to do is go through the various stages that will be needed to make fuel on the Martian surface. I've taken a tray full of ice, and covered it in sand to represent the Martian geology. There's ice caps at the top and this is solid ice, water, and also solid carbon dioxide. We can drill down to get this solid ice and turn it into liquid. Take a screwdriver. Heat it up. Melt this ice. By burrowing through our Martian surface that we've got here, we can turn frozen water into liquid water and steam. Now we can use electricity to pull the hydrogen and the oxygen apart by simply dropping a 9-volt battery into our bowl of water. On the negative terminal, which is the fatter terminal, we see bubbles forming, and that's hydrogen gas being formed out of the water. Did Lewis and Clark cross the American continent bringing with them all the food, water and air they would need for their horses for a 3 year transcontinental trip of exploration? No, if they had done that they would have needed a wagon train of supplies for every man, and another wagon train for every horse, and then of course the wagon train men would have needed more wagon trains and it would have gone exponential. If you looked at these other mission plans, what you saw was that the majority of the mass they were sending to Mars was the propellant to come back. What is the travel-light and live-off-the-land approach to Mars exploration? This is a little rocket ship for returning from Mars to Earth in the terminal stage of the mission. But no one is in it when it goes out the first time. They have to be unfueled or this will weigh much to heavy to throw to Mars. And then slung below the vehicle not shown in this diagram is a little truck in the back of that truck is a little nuclear reactor. You take the water you electrolize it, split it into hydrogen and oxygen, and you suck in the Martian air, which is 95% carbon dioxide, and now you've got a fully fueled Earth Return Vehicle sitting, waiting for you on the surface of Mars. But it wouldn't be practical if you had to bring the fuel from Earth. And in fact we make extra propellant beyond what the Earth Return Vehicle needs so we can operate chemical powered vehicles on the surface of Mars for exploration purposes. The ability to make use of local resources is not just the key to making the mission cheap, it's also the key to making the mission effective. Because there's no point going to Mars unless you can do something useful once you get there. The Constellation program was the program NASA had started to put people back on the Moon and I had been working on it for a number of years. It was good that it got cancelled. It was a program that was in really big trouble. It was way over budget, it was poorly designed, it was being very poorly implemented. But- I was where with a colleague and she did trajectory work like I did and I said- Are you disappointed this has been cancelled? I'll never forget what she said to me, she said- Kirk, I've been here 30 years. Every single thing I've ever worked on has been cancelled. The old strategy, including the Constellation program, was not fulfilling its promise in many ways. That's not just my assessment. And I think there is a parallel there, I think, between what's going on in the nuclear industry and what's going on at NASA. So it sounds like you each worked on a number of different reactors over your careers. Everything I ever worked on got cancelled. Not because of him though. You know the Shuttle was a magnificent technology development- In 1981. Part of the problem was, U.S. held on to the Shuttle for 30 years. And in 2011, the Shuttle was not such a magnificent technology development any more. Because NASA kept holding on the old technology, until finally President Bush had to say- We're going to stop doing it. The Space Shuttle, after nearly 30 years of duty, will be retired from service. I think there's a parallel there with the Light Water Reactor. We built 100-some-odd Light Water Reactors between the 70s and the 80s and a few into the 90s. And, as you've seen from our visit to Oak Ridge, there's talk about extending those reactors 60 and 80 years. And you get into the same sort of argument of diminishing returns. How long do you hold on to the old technology? I don't see the trajectory as serving any purpose, because there are processing disadvantages, there are engineering disadvantages, there are material science disadvantages. All of those things are non-issues if you adopt a truly fluid fuel / cooling system. Whether you're in space or on the Moon or on Mars. You need something that is basically stupid-proof. Right? It's idiot-proof. And all of the redundancy that is involved in solid fuel reactors is basically eliminated. Desalinating briny water. Synthesizing liquid fuel. Growing indoor crops. These are how humans can reduce our ecological footprint here on Earth- and explore Mars without breaking the bank. In all environments, on Earth, and in zero gravity, we want reactors capable of producing large amounts of power, yet are simple and compact. On Earth, small reactors can be transported by train by truck or by ship. Factory construction is much cheaper than on-site construction. A small reactor also requires less natural resources to fabricate in the first place. Size is even more important for off-world application, because launching stuff into space is so incredibly expensive. We don't want any complex mechanism for shuttling around solid fuel. Much operational complexity takes place outside a nuclear reactor. The enrichment of uranium. The management of spent fuel. Overall, Molten Salt Reactors are much simpler. The greater efficiency enabled by liquid homogeneity means less mining, and less waste per kilowatt-hour generated. Unlike today's solid fuel reactors, which can only be economically fueled with uranium, it is possible to fuel an appropriately designed Molten Salt Reactor economically with thorium. Almost all of it will ultimately end up fissioning. Out of about 1000 kg, about 15 kg of Plutonium-238 will be left over, now this is good stuff. Plutonium-238 is different than Plutonium-239, the stuff we use in bombs. In fact it's worthless for bombs. This is the stuff NASA uses in its deep-space batteries. Voyager, Galileo, Cassini, New Horizons, all these deep space probes. Almost everything that comes out of this reactor can be sold for product. And then, it'll make enough Uranium-233 to replace itself with 1000 kg of thorium. Breeding thorium requires a more complicated design than is required for a uranium fueled Molten Salt Reactor. The question becomes, do you only want the reactor to be as simple as possible? Or- Do you want the entire fuel lifecycle to be as simple, and efficient, as possible? In space, for most applications, we absolutely need our reactor to be as simple as possible. A smaller, lighter reactor is of the utmost importance, for our immediate exploration needs. The first Molten Salt Reactor launched into space will undoubtedly be powered by Uranium NOT Thorium. But eventually, we want to maximize the efficiency with which we consume natural resources. On Earth we do this because we don't like digging big holes over here, and dumping big piles over there. On the Moon and Mars, we might not worry about pollution, but we'd be far more constrained in how we harvest natural resources. Thorium is an element found everywhere. It is junk. Rare earth mining operations would just as soon pay you to take it off their hands. If you're pulling out rare earths, and your deposit has- let's say- 8% rare earths, it may have 14% thorium. Every known way to extract rare earths from their mineral concentrates- thorium just literally drops out like a rock and you have it. The thorium is free. So it's going to be the most valuable commodity in the world- with almost no value. Because the element thorium can be isolated with basic chemistry, and because Molten Salt Reactors do not require solid fuel fabrication, it is possible to mine dirt for energy even on the Moon and on Mars. One amazing application of Molten Salt Reactors is to solve the water problem. We're standing in Palo Alto, California, in Silicon Valley, and they are in the midst of one of the worst droughts in California history. Well, solve the water problem by reverse osmosis desalination of all that water we have off-shore here- Then make very environmentally friendly fertilizers- because you're doing zero-emission energy source- and then solve the food problem. And you can apply that model worldwide. Any factory assembled advanced reactor, brought to market, could help make nuclear power safer and less expensive. But, it is Liquid Fueled Thorium Reactors which can completely decouple energy generation from negative environmental impact. LFTR consumes only the unwanted byproduct of existing mining operations. There's so much rare earths that we're throwing away because of thorium. One rare earth and usually one thorium atom. We could solve the rare earth problem without opening any new mines and we can solve the energy problem without mining either. We need the thorium, and he needs someone to get rid of the thorium. I realized that there was 60 people sitting on the other side of the podium going- Do you think there's enough of it? Do you think there's a stable supply? How much thorium do you think you'll be pulling up a year? And he goes- I think about 5000 tons. He goes- Is that a lot? By my calculations, 5000 tons of thorium would supply the planet with all of its energy for a year. I said- So your 1 mine, in Missouri, would bring up enough thorium- without even trying- to power the entire planet. And he goes- And there's like a zillion other places on earth that are just like my mine. I mean- it's a nice mine, but it's not unique, it's not like this is the one place on earth where this is found. The promise of abundant clean energy has already been made by wind and solar advocates. However, those are diffuse and intermittent sources of energy. Thorium, when consumed in a molten salt reactor, is incredibly energy dense. And thorium, in a molten salt reactor, can follow energy demand. We did it at a number of different power levels. You could change the load on this radiator by moving the doors down and the reactor would follow the load. As the salt would heat up, there would be less fissile material in the nuclear reactor core, and so fission became less likely. Conversely, as the salt cooled down, there was more material, because the salt was contracting, and fission became more likely. An inherently stable system. In other words, gets hotter, cools down, gets too cool, heats up. So that is a really amazing quality that a nuclear reactor can have and this reactor had it in spades. And then you have other things like wind and solar where you can't change the rate of what's coming at all, you just take whatever you're going to get. We have to get beyond burning stuff for energy. And we can go to a dispersed form of energy, which is gathering wind and solar. Or we can go to a more concentrated form of energy, which is nuclear. And the disadvantage of wind and solar that will always exist is the amount of labor, energy, and expense of gathering and concentrating and directing that energy. Because energy had to be collected and directed to do work. And nuclear energy has already been collected. Our national conversation on energy- rarely mentions these concepts: Energy density. Energy reliability. If we continue to ignore energy density and reliability, we'll wind up in a future like this one- A future where we continue to solve problems through ingenuity and perseverance, but always with a disadvantage- We won't be using energy to tackle problems, if we've constrained our own access to it. Human mechanical energy is so amazing. Why can't we use that to create energy? You will never run out of electricity. You never generate any pollution. So half the world is not going to generate pollution. We call it- Free Electric. Solar Freakin' Roadways- -replaces all roadways, parking lots, sidewalks, driveways, tarmacs, bike paths and outdoor recreation surfaces with smart, microprocessing, interlocking, hexagonal solar units! Maintaining a nation of solar highways. Manufacturing bicycle-battery-generators for every home. An extremely ambitious idea to replace our nation's roads with solar panels. The Department of Transportation has kicked in $850,000. People are actually taking this seriously. Despite the media attention they've received, I think these ideas are flat-out crazy. But they're par for the course in today's energy landscape. They Keystone XL Pipeline extension- For a while, the entire national energy discussion revolved around a single pipeline. Sometimes it seems, the more difficult an energy source is to harness, the more attention it receives. If you'll give me a chance to serve, I'll bring the EPA and the Agriculture Department and all the people together and we'll use ethanol as a part of our nation's energy security future! For example, corn ethanol receives 7 billion dollars in subsidy each year. Corn ethanol's return on energy investment is 1.3 times. Only 30% more energy is recovered from corn ethanol, then went into producing it. Ethanol is a lousy molecule. I'm sorry, but the farm lobby did a really good job- because they had a lot of money- to be able to peddle a really grossly inferior molecule like ethanol. Its got 25% less energy density- per mole- than regular old gasoline. And it costs a hell of a lot more money to make. Even Al Gore, who was a key proponent of Corn Ethanol, acknowledges that the subsidy was a mistake- The energy conversion ratios are, at best, very small. How does Corn's 1.3 times compare against other energy sources? Solar cells return 7 times. Natural Gas is 10 times. Wind is 18 times. Today's water cooled nuclear is 80 times. Coal is 80 times. Hydropower is 100 times. A thorium powered molten salt reactor can return 2000 times the energy invested in it. As another point of reference, 7 billion dollars is not just our yearly corn ethanol subsidy- It would also triple NASA's entire technology development budget. Uh- personally if I was going to try to be living on the Moon or Mars I would definitely want a nuclear power source I would consider anything less to be tantamount to suicide. There's lots of thorium on the surface of the Moon. There's lots of thorium on the surface of Mars. There are fluorides on Mars. For certain. So you can actually get your fluorine source, your thorium source, your uranium source, and most likely the other metals that you would need. Extract the water from the soils of Mars. Separate the hydrogen and oxygen. We now have a supply of rocket fuel on Mars. A filling station. So you don't have to carry all your fuel with you. There are many advantages to not having energy being your scarcest resource in space. Set up some other nuclear reactor somewhere else in space. Space becomes that frontier. These innovations make headlines. And those headlines work their way down the educational pipeline. Everybody in school knows about it. You don't have to set up a program to convince people that being an engineer is cool. This is a video about thorium, molten salt reactors, nuclear power, and energy itself. We look at technical challenges. We look at statements made which mischaracterize the potential of thorium. And we'll examine some claims that nuclear power is entirely unnecessary in the first place. This video exists because NASA spent $10,000 to digitize reactor research documents in 2002. The documents are public domain, accessible through ORNL's online library or Kirk's website. This is not mystery technology. Anyone can learn about molten salt reactors in great detail. In fact, half a dozen privately funded startups are working right now to bring modern, factory assembled, molten salt reactors to market. The bug was put in my ear, to think about a new company. I worked 10 years on technology development at NASA. Technology doesn't develop on its own. It develops when we push it. And the converse is true. When we don't push technology it doesn't go anywhere. These reactors are designed to operate under 1 Earth gravity. They won't be small enough to launch into space. But unlike a space reactor, these Molten Salt Reactors don't depend on NASA to fund development. In fact, the first molten salt reactor to ever operate, was called the Aircraft Reactor Experiment. It was incredibly compact, and it was designed to operate without gravity. Unless you were physically with me, and I could bring down Fluid Fuel Reactors showing the Molten Salt Reactor in it and the Aircraft Reactor Experiment. It was half the size of your refrigerator, and it put out 2 million watts of heat! They consciously and deliberately ignored the contribution of convection to heat flow in liquids. They ignored it. They ignored it for a very good reason. They were designing a nuclear reactor powered bomber. It was going in an airplane. Airplanes do interesting things like go into dives. The force of gravity disappears. Convection then stops. Convection is a gravity driven phenomena. So they couldn't rely on convection. NASA will be able to crib from the Aircraft Reactor Experiment- and an abundance of modern reactor designs- to begin work on low gravity- or zero gravity- molten salt reactors. When Molten Salt Reactors begin powering our cities and providing fresh water, it will be quickly recognized that the best bang-for-the-buck ever attained by a government agency was the scanning of molten salt research- performed by NASA for $10,000. In the last third of this century, our independence will depend on self sufficiency in energy. The United States will not be dependent on any other country for the energy we need to provide our jobs, to heat our homes, and to keep our transportation moving. Beginning this moment, this nation will never use more foreign oil than we did in 1977. Never. Our imports of foreign oil have been climbing steadily since 1985, and now stand at 42% of our total consumption. We need a long-term energy strategy to maximize conservation and to maximize the development of alternative sources of energy. America is addicted to oil, often imported from unstable parts of the world. This country can dramatically improve our environment, move beyond a petroleum-based economy, make our dependence on Middle-Eastern oil a thing of the past. In 10 years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East. Hello, I'm Llewellyn King. I'm executive producer and host of White House Chronicle on PBS. And I've been writing about nuclear power in Washington for nearly 50 years. In the 60s, there was an enormous enthusiasm for nuclear. And if you had some different scheme you weren't encouraged but there was room. The atomic establishment consisted of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy which directed the Atomic Energy Commission which had its way in everything. The joint committee was different from any other organ of the Congress, any other committee, because it was a joint committee. They could introduce legislation. None other ever has, and is an experiment which will not be repeated. The result was a kind of world of its own. People who on it were devoted to nuclear, but they had their own view of it. And it didn't matter whether The Senate was in charge or The House was in charge and there was no separation between the parties. One of the people by the way on the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy was Al Gore's father who is just as passionately pro-nuclear. The players and names are now sort of lost in history. John Pastore from Rhode Island. Chet Hollifield a very powerful House member also chairman of the government operations committee in The House. And I am one of the few people who actually knew Alvin Weinberg. I also saw at that time thorium get pushed out by the atomic establishment of the day. The light water industry, the industry we have, is very defensive it has really- it serves the utilities, not the vendors, not the scientists, not the engineers but the operators, the utilities they are in the catbird seat they control the general view expressed by the nuclear industry. And they're timid. They don't want to say nuclear is better than coal it's cleaner than natural gas because they have a lot of sunk investment in coal and because they're buying that all gas very cheaply. They never want to be put in the classic advertising situation of saying: "This is better. We are moving ahead. When you come along and you say a reactor is going to be much better, safer perhaps, than previous reactors this alarms them because the sunken investment and the fear for the fleet that they have. The hearing of the subcommittee on energy will come to order. Numerous engineers who are renowned engineers... People who know what they're doing... Tell me that there are a number of approaches that would eliminate the leftover waste problem but everytime I hear about it, coming back, what will be built? Again, it's light water reactors. I don't understand what's going on here? Why are we spending money to build reactors based on the same concept that we have been building ever since World War 2 ? I believe that the light water reactors for the foreseeable future will be a bridge between the industry of today and an industry of tomorrow. What we've got is not a bridge to tomorrow but a protection of the status quo. My constituents are always asking me about this... Does thorium have a place in our nuclear future? We have made a massive commitment in this country to uranium based cycle, I see no compelling reason to move towards a thorium cycle. There was a recent report done by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD on thorium systems. Can you make them work? Yes you can make them work. Is there an advantage doing it? I haven't seen it. A new paper has just come out on thorium powered nuclear reactors. Not quite so bullish on the case for thorium. It's from Britain's National Nuclear Laboratory. So they say that there is about 4x more thorium on Earth than there is uranium. But at the moment uranium is cheap enough that simply doesn't matter. It's, I think, one of these sort of technological cults. Melting the fuel rods down in concentrated nitric acid from the thorium reactor. Extracting [uranium] 233 and then making more fuel rods with that and putting it in another reactor... It's economically totally out of the question. Go to my web page section on thorium reactors, written by physicists. You just heard three different reports cited. One to a congressional committee on energy. One to readers of The Economist. And one to the audience of Russia Today. All 3 reports overwhelmingly focus on the challenge of consuming thorium in solid fuel reactors. Solid fuel reactors such as Shippingport Atomic Power Station. This reactor is going to cost something over 55 million dollars, I believe it will produce about a 100,000 kilowatts of power. The real object of this reactor is tolearn about Pressurized Water Reactors for atomic power. It will not be cheap to operate. It will be no cheaper to operate then Write's Kitty Hawk would have been to carry passengers around. At the present time reactor design is an art, not a science. We are trying to make a science out of it. Rickover built one of these reactors and put it over here in Shippingport. A funny-looking submarine shell shaped containment building. Get Out. That's funny. My understanding was that he had a very aggressive timeline for the first power reactor and he was told it would take forever. He pushed it through very quickly. Oh, absolutely. He was an absolute termagant. Other managers who have been less successful than they should have been were because they thought they were Rickover, and they weren't. Shippingport was the first civilian commercial reactor in the world. For 25 years we've never had any problem. Why? Because I have my representative sitting in that control room every minute that reactor is operating. If he sees one of the operators talking to another and it's not on business he tells them to stop. If they don't stop he shuts down the plant. And we have shut down twice. You managed to recruit an extraordinary group of people and bring them in. There are no good people waiting to be hired. All the good people already have good jobs. I did not recruit extraordinary people. I recruited people that extraordinary potential then I trained them. Tests of mechanisms in air and in room temperature water looked alright- Nevermind the good news get to the problem! Dynamic hot water test from the labs. Some bearings froze and some valves tended to seize up. Now, these results are just preliminary. Damnit Mannoff! The test equipment may be at fault. Our job is to anticipate the worst and then fix it. Did you know about this Rockwell? Yes Adminral, I did. Then why the hell didn't you tell me about it? Yes sir I guess I figured this was Panoff's area. I didn't want to take over his turf. His turf! Does it matter to you if pumps and valves freeze up or the reactor control rods sticks? Yes sir that would be disastrous but it's- Then it's your responsibility to tell me so, 100% your responsibility! And it's 100% Panoff's. And it's 100% Dunfurt's. The existence of these other people doesn't change your responsibility one wit. He insisted on everyone being trained everyone being up to quality and no excuses. You know, you did it right and you did it right the first time. This Shippingport Atomic Power Station on the Ohio River it is the first full-scale nuclear power plant for generation of electricity in the United States. Over its 25-year life, shippingport was powered by various combinations of nuclear fuel including one fuel load of thorium. He wanted to prove you can make a light water breeder. He kind of snuck Radkowsky in there to put the thorium in. The people in charge now of the AEC were not interested in the breeding. Only problem is the core turned into a gigantic humongous swiss watch that had to be that accurate with a million little springs holding it all together. He was trying to shoehorn different nuclear physics into an existing system. It made it very complicated and very difficult to work. He did that under the Naval Reactor program. We used to have a separate Naval Reactors division here in this lab. They developed and built the reactor for the world's first atomic submarine: The Nautilus. The story of The Nautilus is legend. Because of its success it was used as a starting point in the development of an advanced design reactor for shipping port. Its name: PWR - Pressurized Water Reactor. The reason we have that as the base for our power reactor technology today is because The Navy was prepared to pay the first-mover costs to make one work. And once you've done that it's extraordinarily difficult to compete with it because those first mover costs are very, very high and have no financial return associated with them. I became really quite friendly with Rickover and spent better than a year... and that's where he learned about nuclear power. Was that about 1947? It was 1947, yes. And it was I who urged young Rickover, the way to make nuclear powered submarine was with the Pressurized Water Reactor. You know, The Navy had reactors and so The Air Force had to have reactors. The Navy has built their nuclear submarines and The Army has taken the same technologies as The Navy, the water-cooled reactor and they're doing their thing. But The Air Force wants to build a nuclear-powered bomber! Dirty little secret was that most of the people involved in it knew from the get-go that it really wasn't practical. In contrast to a submarine where you've got limited space but you can shield it for the people on the submarine, it's much harder on an airplane because of the weight. Most of us did not really think Aircraft Reactor really could work. But we did feel that there is very interesting technology there that someday could be applied. And I would maintain that Weinberg was absolutely right in his assessment of the situation back then. He knew that to make the nuclear airplane work they couldn't use water cooled reactors. They couldn't use high-pressure reactors. They couldn't use complicated solid fuel reactors. They had to have something that was so slick, that was so safe, that was so simple... Operated at low pressure, high temperature, had all the features you wanted in it. They didn't even know what it was. I think someday this will be looking at as one of the great pivot points of history that if this program, this Nuclear Airplane program had not been established the Molten-Salt Reactor would have never been invented because it is simply too radical, too different, too completely out of the ball field of everything else- for it to be arrived at through an evolutionary development. It had to be forced into existence by requirements that were so difficult to achieve and the nuclear airplane was that. Well we were young chemical engineers at the time. God smiles on young chemical engineers they do things that in later years would be regarded as crazy. The Navy program that led to the Light Water Reactors we have now was well optimized to the needs of The Navy. It actually wasn't very well optimized to the needs of power production. The reactor category advocated by Alvin Weinberg for civilian power production, the Molten-Salt Reactor is covered in only two of the three reports dismissing thorium. So let's dismiss that third report by the anti-nuclear organization IEER, and focus on the NNL and OECD reports. They do include sections on molten salt. The United Kingdom's NNL report correctly identifies the advantages offered by Molten Salt Reactors in its Molten Salt Reactor section. That is, page 23. However, the full implications of Molten Salt Reactors are not examined throughout the different sections. For example, proliferation risk and reprocessing are covered as if spent fuel containing Uranium-233 will be shuttled between the reactor, a reprocessing facility, and the spent fuel repository. That is not the case. Uranium-233 is both created and fissioned into energy inside the reactor itself. Unlike solid fuel alternatives what emerges from the Molten-Salt Breeder does not represent a proliferation risk, nor a reprocessing challenge. A single part of the NNL report illustrates how this should have gone. Page 18. Recycling U-233 present some difficult challenges in fuel fabrication because of the daughter products from U-232. Problems. Challenges. Technological barriers. Technical risk. And then, at the bottom- MSR is unique in that it avoids these problems entirely with no fuel fabrication required. The NNL report could easily have a caveat carved out in every section regarding Molten Salt Reactors. MSR impacts every aspect of the thorium fuel cycle, including proliferation. The subreport cited as a Molten Salt Reactor reference is in fact also focused on solid fuel as well, just like the main report. From a liquid fuel perspective, there's no meat in this report. The OECD report is another report focused on solid fuel. Like the NNL report, every section goes into detail about the challenges of thorium with solid fuel reactors, but it does offer a fairly meaty section on Molten Salt Reactors. 11 pages. Does the OECD report evaluate Alvin Weinberg's concept of the molten-salt breeder and identify technical challenges which may impede development? Of those 11 pages, in a 133 page report, 1 sentence does so. This 1 gigawatt design was a thermal reactor with graphite moderated core that required heavy chemical fuel salt treatment with a removal time of approximately 30 days for soluble fission products, a drawback that could potentially be eliminated by using a fast spectrum instead. The remaining 10 pages of molten salt are then entirely dedicated to a different Molten Salt Reactor concept. A fast-spectrum Molten Salt Reactor. If you don't know the meaning of: moderator, fast spectrum, or fission products, then please bear with me. These terms will be explained, as will the need for chemical processing. The critical point is, the OECD report carefully dances around the thorium reactor options being promoted by advocates such as myself. I know that our policy is very simple to understand- no nuclear. Is there more nuanced demanded there, because concerns about nuclear energy can be addressed with future technologies? In a fast-spectrum reactor, uranium and thorium perform the same. In a solid fuel reactor, uranium is a superior choice. It is only in Alvin Weinberg's thermal-spectrum Molten-Salt Breeder Reactor that thorium's advantages become clear. And this is what i think is really worthy of consideration- Right now we have to make an economic case for why should we consider thorium as a fuel source? We can go and we can mine uranium and we can enrich it and we can essentially burn out the small amount of Uranium-235 in that. And you can put an economic quantification on the value of a gram of fissile material in the form of LEU [Low Enriched Uranium]. It is on the order of $10 to $15. Out of the ground that's that's what a gram of of U-235 in that fuel represents. So if you want to make an economic case for why you're going to use the thorium fuel cycle you better figure out how to turn a gram of thorium into fissile and fission it for less money than that. Otherwise nobody's really going to care from an economic basis and so this is why we want to pursue radical simplification in the reprocessing. Want to make it as simple as we possibly can but no simpler. The OECD report evaluates thorium and based only on solid fuel reactors and fast-spectrum Molten Salt Reactors. It does not evaluate thorium based on Alvin Weinberg's Molten-Salt Breeder Reactor. When the idea of the breeder was first suggested in 1943, the rapid and efficient recycle of the partially spent core was regarded as the main problem. Nothing has happened in the ensuing quarter-century that has fundamentally changed this. And I'll go further- Nothing has happened in the ensuing 40 years that has fundamentally changed this. Weinberg nailed the basic idea. The media overlook this gaping hole in the report. No mention of Alvin Weinberg, the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment or of liquid chemistry. No mention of a buried sentence in the hundred page report. Let's reword it for clarity. This one gigawatt design was a thermal reactor with graphite moderated core, that avoided the drawbacks of fast-spectrum by removing soluble fission products through the use of chemical fuel salt treatment. The successful breeder will be the one that can deal with the spent fuel most rationally, either by the achievement extremely long burn, up by greatly simplifying the entire recycle step. We at Oak Ridge have always been intrigued by this latter possibility. It explains our long commitment to liquid fuel reactors, first the Aqueous Homogenous, now the Molten Salt. The second reactor actually operated very well, that was the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment There it is this is the place. These things right over here are the spent probes. See those things will extend like 60 foot in length, and went down the tank did the melting, the bubbling and stirring and everything. He had to go down an additional 20 feet to get to the top of the tanks, it actually had to go inside the tanks. Those things would extend you got a pipe within a pipe. The probe had heaters on the end of it. It would melt a pool in the salt and would sink down into it. All those long-handled tools they had for operations, those were- it was almost heroic actions you'd say when they were trying to do things, when you've got this length of distance, and we'd certainly try to design things today that could be robotically handled. It just would not be designed the same way as it was at that point. One of the things that I've learned from talking to some of the old-timers, people didn't disbelieve that we could build the machine, they didn't believe that we could maintain it. Operation of the MSRE was not too difficult. And the people that I had working for me they all had hound dogs under the porch. Old cars out in the yard, that didn't run very well. If anything came up inside the Molten Salt Reactor say hey we can fix that. And they did. He felt like despite the challenges of operating high radiation fields that they were able to operate and maintain that machine over the course of its a lifetime. I started out at the lab in 1957 and got onto the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment. The dynamics were not common to reactors because it was molten salt instead of water cooled solid fuel. If it heats up it gets less dense and that means it's less critical- Less reactive- Yeah less reactive- Yeah. I was running some tests late at night. The device that I was using got stuck in the wrong place and pulled the rod out and the power went went up and up beyond the design power and then controlled itself and went back down. Everybody was happy. After they completed the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment they went to the Atomic Energy Commission, they said, Hey G can we have some more money? We'd like to go now and build the real thing. We'd like to build the core and we'd like to build the blanket and we'd like to hook a power conversion system on and make electricity. They felt like they shot the moon. Well, the Atomic Energy Commission unfortunately did not share their zeal to continue with the technology. In addition to being a thorium guru, Weinberg was also the original inventor of the Pressurized Water Reactor. He had invented it and gotten his patent for it in 1947. It was a little bit of a tricky thing to have the inventor of the Light Water Reactor advocating for something very, very, very different. He didn't like the fact that it had to run at really high pressure, he just he saw that as a risk. But as long as the reactor was as small as the submarine intermediate reactor which was only 60 megawatts, then containment shell was absolute. It was safe. But when you went to 1,000 megawatt reactors you could not guarantee this. He figured there would be an accident someday where you were not able to maintain the pressure or keep cooling. In some very remote situation conceive of the containment being breached. Does any of this sound familiar? He was making enough of a stink about this the Congressional leader named Chet Holifield told Alvin Weinberg, he said, if you're so concerned about the safety of nuclear energy it might be time for you to leave the nuclear business. And Weinberg was really kind of horrified that they would have this response to him because he wasn't questioning the value or the importance of nuclear energy. If anything he was far more convinced about that than anyone else. What he was questioning, was whether the right path been taken in the development of nuclear reactors. He was particularly well-suited to ask that question because of his role as the inventor of the predominant technology. So, he was quietly shown the door. After he left Oak Ridge within a very short order the Atomic Energy Commission Commission commissioned a report, Wash-1222. They really nitpicked on three small issues about the reactor. They said look big problems here! You know I don't think we can go forward until these are resolved! And when it came time to talk about the safety and the performance of the reactor- There may be some safety advantages that haven't been quantified yet regarding this approach but you know we just really can't be sure about that. And it just just burns me up because a big, big, big mistake the United States made in 1972 walking away from this. Do you feel like the program had sound technical basis or do you feel like technical problems were the basis for cancellation? Some of the technical reasoning that I heard for the cancellation was that there was a corrosion problem. Tritium was raised as another issue, we made no effort on MSRE to do anything with tritium. Did the people on the program feel like tritium was an insurmountable problem? We recognized that tritium would have to be captured but most people thought that that's something that we should be able to do. Did the people on the program, particularly the chemists or the material scientists feel that corrosion was an insurmountable problem on the program? No. And some of the subsequent experimental work seem to bode very favorably for an ability to solve that issue, as well as the tritium issue by the way because we did do some tritium experiments. Were either of you present when the molten-salt reactor program was cancelled in the early seventies? We were still working here. We were still working on the system. We were still finalizing reports on the performance of the MSRE. I didn't see it coming. Mr. President? Since you missed our meeting on breeder reactors, we sent the message today, Craig. I told Ziegler to tell the press that it was a bipartisan effort. This has got to be something we play very close to the vest but I am being ruthless on one thing. Any activities that we possibly can should be placed in Southern California. So, on the committee, every time you have a chance, needle them. Say, where's this going to be? Let's push the California thing. Can you do that? Nixon was from California. Hosmer was from Southern California. Chet Holifield, who ran the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, was also from California. It doesn't lead me to believe that the President was seriously considering alternatives to the fast breeder reactor and other paths that could be taken. It was a focus on what can we do right now to get jobs. Now, don't ask me what a breeder reactor is. All of this business about breeder reactors and nuclear energy and this stuff is over my... That was one of my poorer subjects, science. I got through it but I had to work too hard. I gave it up when i was about a sophomore. But what I do know is this- That here we have the potentiality of a whole new breakthrough in the development of power for peace. The fellow on the phone call that we heard earlier said that if cost targets were missed I for one don't intend to scream and holler about it. In that same month the Atomic Energy Commission issued Wash-1222. It almost completely ignored the safety and economic improvements possible through the use of the Molten-Salt Breeder Reactor technology. Milton Shaw who was the head of reactor development in Washington called up he says stop that MSRE Reactor Experiment, fire everybody, just tell them to clear out their desks and go home. And send me the money for fast breeders. We were competing with the fast breeder people at Argonne [National Labs] mainly. They just had more political sway than Molten Salt Reactor. Do to see a prevailing opinion about Molten Salt Reactors? We haven't been funded to look at Molten Salt Reactors. There's no opinion? The opinion is simple. Build IFR. That's it. We realized that we were minor league money-wise compared to the other program. One anecdote that I heard was put your hand on your desk take everything that has to do with molten salts, sweep it off and you're finished. I saved all my documents. I did too. You look at the authors of the papers that I've listed, most of them are deceased. Grimes. Rainey. They're deceased. All their techincal skill is gone. And I'm reading ORNL documents fiendishly to try and go okay I think I know how they did that. But I don't know. I don't know. I don't know because I don't have anybody to talk to. We had a corpus of people in Oak Ridge who knew how to do this in the mid-1970s. They are literally dead and gone now. I've met a handful of them they're in their 80s. You know... they're not going to do this anymore. Well Beecher's been dead for a long time now. How about Paul? I have not had any contact with him so I don't know. You don't get taught this stuff in nuclear engineering school. You know I said one time in an online talk you can get a PhD in nuclear engineering and never learn about this stuff. I got an email a few weeks ago. Kirk, I just saw your talk. I wanted you to know I just graduated from Purdue with my PhD in Nuclear Engineering and I want to tell you're absolutely right. I have never heard of this stuff before. He goes on to say it's even worse than that, because I'm totally a student of nuclear history. He goes: I'm so geeked out on nuclear history and I've never heard of this. How did I not hear about it? He goes: It's great though. He goes: You're absolutely right this is top-notch stuff they did and we should be working on it right now. But it's absolutely possible for you to go through a normal curriculum and never learn about this. In any other place, as an organization you're abandoning this route and going another, well it just gets lost. It is amazing how much they documented. Enormous amount of detail about the work that had been accomplished and how they had developed the technology. They were written to very high scientific standards that we can go back and repeat once again things that were initially studied back in the 1960s and 1970s. Now, you were aware of the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment? There were some journal articles that gave basic background. They had a full issue of a pretty substantial nuclear engineering journal. But the thing that was missing was this extensive compendium of hundred-page reports that gave enormous amount of detail about the work that had been accomplished and how they had developed the technology, and using that we were able to accelerate our work in looking at how to develop fluoride salt cooled High-Temperature Reactors, a variant of the earlier Molten-Salt Reactor technology. Ok, now, this Compact Integral Effects Test oil loop that we've developed is a 50% height scaled replica for a fluoride salt cooled High Temperature Reactor loop. The scaling between the CIET facility here on the left and this is the Mark-1 PB-FHR design that we've developed. Now this is a pebble bed fluoride salt cooled pebble bed reactor. The key thing in this design is that we also have passive safety so that you have confidence that even if all of your electricity is gone that you'll still be able to remove decay heat after shutdown. It is actually very easy to turn off the fission reaction. When the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, there were seismic sensors in the plant that notice the earthquake before any human being ever noticed it. And they noticed that was out of their tolerance their bounds they've been set to, and so before anybody did anything the computers started shutting down the reactor. The workers stayed calm because they knew Japanese power plants are designed to withstand earthquakes. The reactors automatically shut down within seconds. But nuclear fuel rods generate intense heat even after a shutdown, so backup generators kicked into power the cooling systems and stop the fuel rods from melting. So when you turn a reactor off fission stops, but you have this decay heat. You have to manage that decay heat. The tsunami hit about an hour after the reactors were shut down. So fission was long gone by the time the tsunami came along, but the reactors are still managing decay heat. That decay he continued to build. Heat was not being removed from the reactor. And why weren't they using the power from the reactor in the pumps? Because the reactor been turned off. The reactor was turned off immediately when the seismic sensors sensed the quake. So there was no reactor generated power. In Light Water Reactors, if you allow fuel to be uncovered and you allow it to heat up the zirconium cladding will react with steam to form hydrogen. As the fuel overheats to temperatures where it begins to lose its physical integrity and have localized melting- in the chemical conditions that you have with water- highly oxidized conditions- cesium and iodine are very volatile. They evaporate out, condense to small particles, and you have intrinsically high pressure. So you therefore how physical mechanisms that can mobilize cesium and iodine. Now we designed the reactors to make that very unlikely through a combination of highly reliable cooling systems. Passive systems are better than active as we learned at Fukushima. But the physical mechanism remains. The physical mechanism remains. Whereas in a salt reactor- In a salt reactor, cesium- There's nothing that cesium loves more than fluorine and it will compete with anything else to grab hold of fluorine. And cesium-fluoride is very low volatility and very high solubility in salt. So no aerosols. This is the Watts Bar plant. Up here is where all the control rods slide in and out of the core. And then there's these 4 steam generators. You see the steam generators at Watts Bar are as big if not bigger than the reactors and they also have to operate these very high pressures. Now there's 4 of them, look- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8- big pipes. The number one accident people worry about with this kind of reactors is what's called a double-ended pipe break. One of these 8 pipes, for whatever reason, shears. And all of a sudden pressure is lost in the reactor. Steam doesn't take away heat nearly as well as liquid water does from a surface. So all of a sudden your fuel rods are not being cooled nearly as effectively as they were before. Now fission will stop. Because one of things the water is doing- its slowing down the neutrons. So without the water the fission reaction stops. You do not need to put control rods in or anything. The reactor will turn off immediately. But the containment building, I mean look at the size of the reactor, look at the size of the containment building. It's huge. It's much much much bigger than the reactor and it's all driven by that 1000:1 difference in the density between steam and liquid water. This building is the size it is, and it's the way it is, precisely to accommodate this event. They've designed this reactor so if this happens, all the steam is captured in this building. A design basis accident for Pressurized Water Reactor that is evaluated, in which we believe the reactors can respond safely is what's called a large break loss coolant accident. You could think about going to a real big Pressurized Water Reactor, the real thing, getting high explosive, strapping it onto the cold leg of the reactor, and blowing that, like, take the pipe apart- and and do the test. There's a number of reasons why that's just a bad idea. The best way, once we're getting into rather severe conditions is to make use of simulations validated by scaled experiments. I think that would surprise people to realize that the best way to simulate a fluid is with a different fluid, not with the same fluid. Because your first impression would be, if I want to stimulate water I should use water. Yup yup. If you want to scale the fact that's not the case. If you went back to 1960s and asked how are you going to put in place a system to reliably provide cooling under emergency conditions. When the normal shutdown cooling system is not functioning really the only practical way to do that was to use active systems with redundant and diverse components and power supplies and all of that. That was the reason we ended up with Gen2 approach to active safety. South Korea, Japan, France- You know there's lots of countries that are still stuck there, right? The united states we're the one country that really has developed the capability to do something much more sophisticated in terms of validating models for the reliability of passive safety systems. And therefore, to be able to shift towards using systems that do not require electrical power. And now you're going to see for Molten Salt Reactors, there's this amazing thing- We can match the behavior of molten salts in terms of convective heat transfer using heat transfer oils. We can put up to 10 kilowatts of heat into this loop. Which, in salt, would be equivalent to half a megawatt of heat. Which is a scaling relationship between the oil and the salt. It's very convenient. Was it just kind of dumb luck that it happened to be so favorable in that direction? It makes you believe there must be a higher power that sometimes every now and then smiles down on us. Was there a student who approached you and showed you some calculations? Because I don't think anyone's done this- Philippe Bardet, he's an assistant professor at George Washington University now. He came into my office and said, you know, I was just looking at the properties here and the prandtl number of this oil matches the prandtl number of salt. And realized that in fact we could match simultaneously all of the key non-dimensional parameters that come out of the energy equation. This technique then was developed here at Berkeley. It was invented here, yes. At moderate temperatures around 80 degrees centigrade heat transferred oils like dowtherm have the same prandtl number as FLiBe does at 650 degrees. And if we scale to about 50% geometric scale, and if we accelerate time, we can match grashof, reynold, proud and prandtl number which means convective heat transfer can be the same. And this has huge implications because you'll notice that in the CIET facility we can instrument extensively. So really, the big goal of this machine here is to simulate how decay heat is removed from this design when there's a shutdown. That is correct. Also you learn a lot. For example if you get bubbles trapped in the system, which when you fill things you generally do, they can change the behavior. So in this loop we've got lots of transparent locations where we can see bubbles and where we can vent them from the high places so that we can get all of the trapped gases out once we filled it. Well, it's really important when you design the salt system also to make sure that it's not going to have high points that are going to trap gas in ways that you didn't expect. Up at 600 degrees centigrade it's a different environment in terms of instrumentation and pipes. Transparent pipes are tough to do. You might get little windows in. You can put FLiBe into a test tube and heat it up and melt it and you can see it, but you can't build glass molten salt loops. That would be bad. Well they'd probably break. I was in seventh grade. I read Isaac Asimov story about the implications of what free energy would do and I sort of knew I wanted something- I was going to be an engineer or scientist just from day one, and this sort of said- Ok, what can you do to make a difference? And that was where I sort of said advanced nuclear power was something that could make a difference, and that low-cost clean energy could make a huge difference to society. If I'm gonna have to get up every day for 50 or 60 years and working on something well it ought to be something I believe in. And so here is some FLiNaK. This is a fluoride salts. FLiBe actually looks almost identical to this. Liquid salts are an outstanding heat transfer media. It really doesn't matter what you're going to be transferring heat for- Whether this be a solar power tower, whether this be a salt cooled reactor, a Molten-Salt Reactor, viscosity on it is 30 times larger. Water is very low viscosity so it's still very low viscosity fluid. Some people might imagine this is quite a gloopy or kind of slow moving liquid but it's actually quite fluid. You're right. It does go through a melt much like a glass as opposed to water which doesn't quite do that. So we want to run it at 100 degrees or so above this so it does flow nicely. If you go ahead and you repeat doing things in here you can see you start to etch the glass just a little bit. So what we have to do in a reactor is keep things very highly reducing. If you put an extra beryllium in there, essentially giving you a preferred spot to rust. And so this is all about controlling the potential corrosion of the salt within any vessel that you put it in. The iron in some of the the alloys or is more soluble at higher temperatures and in your heat exchanger where it's a hot temperatures you will get medals taken out a solution and then it gets the colder end it will redeposit. So you can self-plug your heat exchangers which you would very much like not to do. Your technique to avoid that is keep everything very well reduced so it doesn't corrode in the first place. You'll make it lousy, but there are no strong chemical reactions that are going to take place between the salt and even direct contact with water. The hazards on this are same thing as the hazards on a deep-fat fryer, which is, I trip throwing hot oil or hot salt in this case on visitors would be considered a bad. But there's nothing else to this. It just makes a nice little clear liquid. But I'll just pour this out into a stainless steel crucible, and you could hear that little snap there was just there was a little bit of moisture at the bottom of the stainless steel. I mean at 450 degrees this thing is a solid. So it doesn't take very long for it to form a solid again. Isn't that a nice feature? If you had a little crack on this and it started to weep- it forms a plug. Self plugging. That's nice thing about not being under pressure. On the other hand if your design keeps the vessel hot it'll stay liquid on there but that's why you have a guard vessel. If your absolute worst-case happens and you have massive vessel rupture well you still catch it. The idea of this loop- To retain our expertise in using high temperature salts. To provide a platform for us to test different components different reactor concepts. Above about 600 C it becomes technologically very difficult to transfer heat effectively. The loop is designed to run at 700 Celsius that's about 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit. And the whole loop is made out of Inconel 600. Currently, the loop is designed to run on FLiNaK which has pretty similar properties to FLiBe. It's just a different salt with different composition. The main purpose of the enclosure is to keep the heat inside. The loop is designed to be about 200 kilowatts. That is 700 C. That's pretty hot. We'd rather keep the heat in here, out the ceiling, instead of trying to air-condition the room with 200 kilowatts. So we'll heat the whole loop up. Will pressurize this container and pump the salt into here. And within here is the pump. Will be a motor mounted up top. A long shaft. Then the bottom here is the impeller of the pump. And there is a little picture of it here. It is currently out being assembled. The salt will be pumped through a test section. Silicon Carbide pipe almost. Currently it's upside down. So if you imagine it flipped around upside down then inserted in this spot here. We're going to fill it full of these little graphite spheres about three centimeters. We'll fill it up about this much. This kind of illustrating how many of these 600 spheres will be inside of it. And the idea is we're testing a reactor concept where the fuel would be inside these pebbles. Fuel pebbles in here and that's where the fission and the heat created. And you've got flowing FLiBe over it. We're using an inductive power supply which would be located on the outside here so it comes in kind of through the wall here around the test section and it inductively heats the pebbles without using fission it's kind of the only way to really get heat into the system. Can I ask them what the theory was between up around using a sort of a solid-fuel pebble into the FLiBe rather than absolving the actinide into the salt? Currently in this country we're not really looking at the molten salt fueled system. So the driver from a programmatic research was solid fuel or the pebble. But there must be some advantages to doing the solid fuel? Or it's just it's just an extension from previous research study really? The applicability of molten salt fueled system can be tested also in this system. This is the base for an awful lot more of our testing for example we'll be doing natural circulation safety testing. We're doing a lot of corrosion specimens in here and a pump loop. Silicon carbide even though we're using that as part of the design that's part of the test. We're going to find out how that performs in a salt environment now. There are a number of technologies that have never been done before in salt in here. That rotating flange up there to allow things to shift between there. The fact that we've got ceramic and metal pieces all in a single loop. The joints, which are the nickel carbon-based joints, we can actually gasketed seals. This one does flow so as the salt flows through it, send sound waves through. Kinda like the car going by and make different sounds. Doppler effect. Doppler effect, there you go, that measures the Doppler shift. Nice. Kevin, mention the fluidic diodes. What you can do with that. Simply put it's a way to control a liquid flow without using a valve. Part of the safety system that's used in the Molten Salt Reactor, had them and also liquid metal reactors, where during normal operation the flow goes one direction through it. So it would flow, in normal operation it goes this way comes in the side and outside that side. And that creates a lot of resistance. It spins around and comes out. During an accident the flow reverses and goes this way and there's not a lot of resistance going from here just flowing out there because it doesn't spin around. So that's after the particle bed test, that's the next set of tests, is to test this idea for the safety system. Most of the technologies that for a Molten Salt Reactor in the- As far as a thermal hydraulics- well they're identical. If you want to use the salt as a coolant it is just much, much, much easier to do something that's non-radioactive. So that's why we have the walk before you fly. The direction that we've gone with the FHR technology is to look at the use of the same kind of coated particle fuels that have been developed and tested for helium cooled reactors, to get functional commercial reactors operating sooner than we can with liquid-fueled. There are advantages specific to thorium-fuel over uranium-fuel when it's dissolved in molten salt. But first, let's start with some of the advantages common to all molten salt reactors- even those which use solid fuel instead of liquid fuel. Much of their research can be applied to liquid fuel molten salt reactors as well. It's all laying out that fundamental research so that someday a thorium reactor you can look up these papers and these publications that we've written here and be like oh this is how we can do this, you know? We're studying the fundamental science behind it, thorium fuelled or otherwise. Hi my name is Grant Buster. I'm a graduate student here at the thermohydraulics laboratory at UC Berkeley. I work to develop a fundamental understanding of how pebble fuel moves through a reactor core. This is kind of the central column and this would be rotated around it's kind of an annulus- a doughnut-shaped core. Some will exit the reactor core quite quickly, while others will be held up for you know, maybe months at a time. Every time we defuel a pebble we can assay these pebbles using gamma ray spectroscopy, to discern what the burn up is of this pebble. And whether it should be placed back into the core or whether it should be put in storage. When you change your fuel type in a light water reactor it's a huge deal. You have to you get the new vendor to design and you have to figure out the compatibility of the new fuel assemblies with the old fuel assemblies and how you're going to shuffle them and then the fuel will stay for three refueling cycles before it's fully spent- It's very complicated. In fact, if you think about how it is that you buy gasoline, compared to how is you buy nuclear fuel these days- Buy nuclear fuel, you're locked into your vendor. Yeah. You know with gasoline, if you want new gasoline you just go to a different gas station, right? And you fill up your tank with the new gasoline. You don't worry about it being exactly identical. Pebbles are very interesting because you can just put in a few pebbles to test. Once you verify that the new pebble design that you have is working, you can start to just substitute- because this is a homogeneous bed- new stuff. Really, pebble fuel is fairly well understood it's been used since like the 70s now. In Germany ther was a helium cooled reactor. It was a dry bed so all the pebbles are weighted downwards. Additionally they drove in control rods from the top. If you can imagine- They crushed a lot of pebbles. They didn't like round or make like a nose cone? They did, but it's still a confined bed- There's not a whole lot of movement. All the pedals are weighted under gravity and it was just not a very smart system. But, with our system, everything's buoyant. Almost neutrally so. The pebbles are very light so to speak. With molten salt coolant, graphite is less dense than salt, and floats, and therefore fuel elements want to float. We realized that it might be an advantage that pebble fuel floats if you have pebbles. Because in a salt cooled reactor you want to have the coolant in a vessel that has no openings around the bottom- That is a pool type of configuration, which means you don't want to take the fuel out from the bottom of the reactor, right? You want to take it from the top. You want to take it from the top. Gravity-driven control blades against the buoyancy, with degrees freedom on the bottom. The forces on these pebbles are much much smaller. So all we had to do was to find a 40% scale pebble material that would have the right density ratio. I went home that evening and went to the kitchen and started taking out my wife's plastic stuff and cutting it up to see what would float and after destroying a lot of perfectly good, you know, plasticware- I finally got around to cutting up a milk jug. This is science at work. Science at work. And the stuff floated. And then I looked on the bottom and I looked up the recycled number. We sourced polypropylene tiny little pebbles and have a 13 thousands of an inch tungsten wire through the center. You can see the tungsten wires. This is the control blade insertion experiment. The blade is kind of a phantom because, plastic, you can't really see it so well. You can see it moving all the pebbles. Can see the shadow of it like Predator. Yeah, yeah. And you can actually image these large beds. We've had to develop our own tomography software. Tell where all the pins are. Reconstruct how the actual three-dimensional pebble bed is, physically. The stress chains that are actually created in these granular beds are quite complex. The white lines where the blade was. Concentrations of displacements right around the tip, those are the pebbles undergoing the largest amount of imparted force. You gotta see that they are propagated up quite far. But once again- The the forces that we measured were one order of magnitude less than the recommended force limits, so, we have very high confidence that this is a viable shutdown method. Will the molten salt provide lubrication? Also lubrication, yeah, the lubrication can only help us really. And I don't know if you guys have heard a lot about this but essentially SINAP, the Shanghai Institute of Applied Science, has a very aggressive program with Molten Salt Reactors. They're doing a two-pronged approach where they build solid fuel test reactors with pebble fuel, and also Molten Salt dissolved thorium test reactors as well. Thorium? Huh? Thorium? Yeah. Yeah, dissolved thorium fuel in the molten-salt. Similar to the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment in America. Why aren't we working on liquid fuel? Well our lab is is specifically designed the PB-FHR, the pebble fuel variant. I mean the United States in general. Oh- Licensing. Licensing a liquid fuel reactor commercially, especially in the U.S. right now, is scary. The U.S. is electing to go after salt cooled reactor at first. It's not to say that the U.S. doesn't recognize that Molten Salt Reactors have some interesting advantageous capabilities, but, they are more technically challenging thing to do to. So what is a fluoride salt cooled high temperature reactor? Essentially it uses coated particle ceramic fuel. Fluoride salt is a primary coolant. Dr. David Holcomb is about to describe the safety features of ORNL's reactor design. Just like the Berkeley pebble bed, all the safety features you'll hear also apply to reactors where the fuel is dissolved into molten salt. Our definition for strong passive safety on this is there's no requirement for an active response to avoid either core damage or larger off-site release following even severe accidents. And, that's ever. This isn't three days this is this is ever. If it just goes black you don't have to do anything. Large margin to fuel failure. Good natural circulation coolant. And very good negative temperature reactivity- Shuts itself off rather than going out of control. High radionuclide solubility in the salt. If you actually did have major fuel failure well you've converted your reactor into a Molten Salt Reactor, if you go ahead and you fail all the fuel. It's a low pressure system- There's no driving force to cause things to go outward are this and which also helps you to make containment barriers because I don't need containment barriers to be very strong, turns out we're designing a thing with four layers of containment barrier because they're relatively easy to do. You put a stainless steel dome around things and you've got a containment barrier. We can use things like fusible links. You can set melt point alloys that are 10 or 15 or 20 degrees above your normal operating point and all your control rods are linked by a melt point and just let them passively drop-in. You can have a poison salt injection system which is just held shut by a melt point system because we do have a lot more margin, and that something which is distinctive to us, because we're not anywhere near temperature limits for short terms, for anything. We just let things heat up until you get to a melt point and you stick in a lot of negative reactivity. You have hundreds of hours before you even get one in a million type failures, at 1,600 C, if you've operated at low enough temperatures, on this. There is a large volumetric change in the salt with temperature which says that are passive natural circulation cooling has got a very strong driving force, which means that we can rely upon natural circulation, which gives us the ability of making very large reactors because the natural circulation is not something which is limited, that I have to wick stuff out to the side. I can go ahead and just continue to use normal types of cooling and just reject it to the the atmosphere, which says that my upper limit on my reactor size is actually my grid not my reactor safety. By focusing on the areas that give us the most leverage in terms of the benefits to the salt and trying to, in other areas, stay with what's been done historically- It will reduce the sort of number of fences we have to jump over. I'm Raluca Scarlat. I'm a PhD student at UC Berkeley. I do research on fluoride salt cooled advanced reactors. They're cooled by fluoride salts but the fuel is not dissolved in the salt, so it is in solid form. Its zoned meaning that you have the blanket of thorium serves a similar purpose as online chemical reprocessing does in the LFTR reactor. So this project was built maybe 4 or 5 years ago, and we were considering a very complex core design. So this isn't like multiple fuel regions really in the middle it's going to be just one type of fuel? Dark green were pure graphite pebbles for shielding. The green was a thorium blanket. There's a lot of potential but the designs right now are much more simple with just one fuel lair and one outer shielding lair. You couldn't actually do it then with thorium? The PB-FHR we're designing is 19.X % enriched U-235. So just uranium, yeah. Solid fuel is the fundamental barrier which impedes thorium being used as a much more efficient source of energy. We've studied and we tried to identify ways to design solid fuel reactors to utilize thorium effectively, and it's very challenging. Their capabilities look, in terms of fuel utilization conversion ratio, look remarkably similar to Light Water Reactors. Or course for India thorium is important because we don't have too much of uranium. Conversely, India has massive thorium deposits, and almost no uranium. India has been pursuing a solid fuel based thorium breeder, since 1950, with steadfast determination of securing energy independence. Most of that time they've been looking at thorium-oxide fuels, solid fuels, and running the same challenges with solid fueled thorium that everybody does. And I have been told informally, through friends of this person, that one of the former directors of the Indian nuclear program, when asked if you had it all to do again what would you do differently, he said I would have gone to molten salt right from the beginning. Dr. Sinha and his colleagues think that Molten-Salt Breeder Reactor, am I quoting you correctly? I heard you telling me some time back... that they think that the Molten-Salt Breeder Reactor seems to be the most suitable candidate for the self-sustainable thorium reaction. What I think is amazing about molten salt technology is the fact that the thorium fuel cycle integrates so cleanly with the technology. The advantage of the molten salt is that processing is much simpler, and it reduces the fuel cycle costs, and makes a breeder a conceivable economic proposition. Liquid fuel enables economic thorium breeding. Thanks to liquid chemistry, and thanks to liquid homogeneity of the fuel. You can use thorium in existing reactors but the economics aren't there to support it. In addition, liquid fuel's homogeneity can also enable more efficient consumption of uranium as well. With an MSR, those degrees of freedom, that soup, if you will, in a molten liquid state permits the complete usage of the fissile materials whether they be thorium or uranium or what-have-you. So in principle you can make a Molten Salt Reactor using pure uranium. There's nothing wrong with that. To compete with thorium-breeding levels of efficiency, a uranium fueled reactor would need to overcome some additional challenges. But even the incremental improvements possible by using similar molten salt reactors- fueled with uranium- would allow us to extract additional energy from our existing stockpiles of spent fuel. [Dr.] Leslie Dewan is co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Transatomic Power. She's one of Time's 30 People Under 30 Changing the World. And so you and a friend- we figured that this was the smartest we were going to be for a while. Mark and we figured that this was the smartest we were going to be for a while. Mark and we figured that this was the smartest we were going to be for a while. Mark and I started thinking very broadly just about nuclear reactors in general. So we looked at the 6 types of Gen4 reactors. We got our inspiration by looking at the Molten Salt Reactor. Our fuel is a liquid. We can leave it in a reactor for as long as it takes to extract essentially all of the remaining energy in it. The commercial regulatory structure in the U.S. is currently set up only for Light Water Reactors. The uncertainty in the estimates of the cost and timeline effectively block large-scale private investment in new nuclear reactors- Because no- no investor would want to put money into a project if they don't have a good sense of when they're going to get a return, or how much it will cost at the beginning. The NRC regulations specifically spell out prohibitions against fluid fueled reactors, even for national laboratories. You can not operate fluid-filled reactor more than one megawatt without expensive licensing process running about $150 per man-hour. The NRC trusts sophomores in college more with Light Water Reactors than they do national lab scientists with fluid fuel reactors. It's been there for ages, since Milton Shaw. Yes, Shaw is the one who actually decided that we weren't going to do liquid-filled reactors. He instituted the Catch-22. We can't do work on Molten Salt Reactors, because we just don't know enough about how Molten Salt Reactors work. Ok, can we find out how they work? No. Because we don't know how they work. It's like- WHAT!?! So it's a demonstration reactor cut-off for liquid fuel reactors is maybe 1 megawatt thermal vs 10 megawatts thermal for solid fuel reactors. We'd like the demonstration facility to generate meaningful results for a full size plant. On the order of 20 megawatts thermal. Any smaller than that and it really- It becomes a different machine. Just the thermal hydraulics even will be so different that it wouldn't really be valid comparison. You know, the state of Missouri passed a resolution that they want to be the first state to have Thorium Molten Salt Reactors in their state. Every state with reactors has their own Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And there's a provision where they can literally go off on their own. It's just like highway funds. If you don't approve drunk driving level of 0.08 it's like- Oh you can do that Wisconsin, you can do that Illinois. Say goodbye to 500 million dollars in highway funds though, if you do that. So they hold a gun to their heads to do that. Same thing with the NRC. But- It would be an extraordinary wake-up call, for- Even if one state did it. Where, if one state was just like- You guys are so out of sync with what current nuclear technology is, that we absolutely have to, for the health of our state, go on our own. That- That would be- The NRC I'm sure would have- have great retribution- not my word, somebody else's. I thought that was the- When we discussed that, somebody was like- "That would bring down great retribution! not my word, somebody else's. I'm sure the great retribution would come down, but at some point, someone would be like-Hey!? Why did this state go off on its own and put up with this gigantic huge penalty they paid, you know? Why would they do that? And of and maybe it would become a national conversation and certainly in the decision-making halls of the power they'd be like- Has something gone so off the rails here that one state is essentially, in one little way, willing to secede from the union on this? The current system incentivizes reactor designers to develop their first projects outside of The United States. And, in fact, this has already happened. Some existing nuclear reactor design companies are planning on building their first power plants overseas. In Canada, or China, or the Philippines- Because they don't think it will be possible to build an advanced reactor in the U.S. under the current regulatory system. We have chosen Canada for a very specific reason. We have a completely new reactor system with a completely, profoundly, different risk profile. Canada has a fundamentally different regulatory environment for nuclear power which is, I would say, very progressive. We do feel that we have competitive advantage by pursuing this technology in Canada specifically. Currently there is no way for us to build a prototype facility or move beyond the laboratory scale work that we're currently doing. We want more than anything to do this in the U.S., but we've been forced to keep an open mind with respect to the other pathways we could take. China is building a supply chain in order to manufacture and distribute Molten Salt Reactors, and we are not. We don't do big science anymore in the United States, we don't. China is. India is. The Czech Republic is. Jan Uhl'r. He's got a great budget, and he just bought an obscene amount of FLiBe, for pennies on the dollar, from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, because he's doing big science over there. And we basically gave it away. Anything that's different, that's never been done before- It seems like in the nuclear field everybody wants to be number two. This is one of the flaws that has impeded innovation in the nuclear energy technology area, which is that this is a first mover barrier. Because quite obviously, once the answer comes out as to how NRC will manage that sort of question- Everybody knows what that answer is and and everybody else can free ride. On the other hand, the benefits that come from the switch to molten salts, even if we're using uranium at the same rate that you would with Light Water Reactors, are substantial. And what we can learn using solid fuel, and what we can develop, can be readily applied to build liquid-filled reactors as well. ORNL and Berkeley's respective pebble-bed design both make great use of molten salt to offer passive safety. This is a drain tank. This is a drain tank. -to drain it back down again. And we've done that a couple of times already. And eliminate the challenge of high pressure operation. If you have a little crack on this, and it was starting to weep, it forms a plug. Self plugging. It'll self plug. That's a nice thing about not being under pressure. In fact, these reactors are intended to be modular, and factory produced. We e are very interested in a transportable size of these, for some of the things like supporting individual refineries, or remote power operation. And ultimately a much less expensive source of energy than today's reactors. There are vigorous debates that go on about what is the best and fastest path to get this technology developed. And I think that, you know, it's good for us to have those debates, and it's good for parallel efforts in multiple areas to be underway. The effort on the solid fuel side, I think, it's important that we can target achievable goals where we can reach certain milestones in a shorter period of time- on the solid fuel side. There's just fewer hoops you need to jump through. Pebble fuel is fairly well understood, it's been being used since like the 70s now. Well you know them the next best thing that scales up after molten salt science is fluoride cooled solid fuels. So if molten salt pebble-bed reactors can be passively safe and less expensive, why is every single organization shown here investigating, if not dedicating themselves entirely, to the pursuit of liquid fuel? There are supreme advantages of dissolving the fuel and fission products in the fluorides, because you can add and subtract at will. Solid stuff is always going to be expensive fabrication. And what do you do with spent pebbles? They have an inner carbon core surrounded by a TRISO matrix, surrounded by an outer layer of graphite. Every time we de-fuel a pebble you can actually assay these pebbles using gamma-ray spectroscopy to discern what the burn up is of this pebble, and whether it should be placed back into the core, or whether it should be putt in storage. Then will you do with the spent pebbles? There was that much more manufacturing and engineering and thought going into these pebbles, but ultimately, from a macroscopic, or 50,000 foot view, you still have the same waste problem. Except its now in a far more engineered and therefore much more difficult medium in which to go extract that waste and processes it. Well it's a lot easier to deal with the chemistry if you don't dilute the fuel into the salt. Chemistry is not- chemistry is not difficult to deal with. Just think about problems and solve them. I would pose this question- What is easier? Running a liquid past a solid in order to transfer the heat? Or having the fuel be a liquid, and use that in and of itself? So I would argue that actually combining the two is easier. Sure it's more chemistry, but so what? I'm a chemist. There are lots and lots of chemists, you know, on the planet. And a lot of them are a hell of a lot smarter than I am. So, like, go solve the problem. Oh wait a second- Oak Ridge already solved the problem from 1951 to 1974. Solid fuel makes a thorium breeder reactor an economic impossibility. Solid fuel impedes the efficient consumption of uranium as well. Solid fuel leads to larger stockpiles of nuclear waste, which would be otherwise recycled into energy. And, solid fuel ensures all breeder reactors ever created by humans will inevitably use fast-spectrum instead of the thermal-spectrum. Those breeders won't use moderating material to sustain criticality. Yes, that is another re-articulation of the OECD report. Fast-spectrum. Thermal-spectrum. Moderator. You've heard Dr. Per Peterson, Kirk Sorensen and members of India's Nuclear program state that thorium is best suited to liquid fuel reactors. We're about to explore the technical reasons behind this. What these terms mean, and why they're important. We will examine need for ongoing chemistry inside a thorium reactor. And we'll review the science behind all nuclear power, starting at the very basics. But, before we do, I'd like share my feelings about nuclear power. I have no qualm with solid fuel nuclear reactors. They are statistically one of the safest forms of energy generation. Hundreds are in operation, and they've been producing pollution-free energy for decades. In fact, today's nuclear power is carbon-free energy' right between solar power and wind power in terms of miniscule carbon emission. So I'd very much like to see existing nuclear plants continue to operate until we finally stop burning coal for energy. But that isn't happening. Can you give me an update on Diablo? What update do you need, except to close it down? I cannot believe you are shutting down an operating source of reliable clean energy. In fact, nuclear plants are shutting down faster than new ones are being built. The nuclear industry is a death industry. It's a cancer industry. This is crazy. You are sitting on top of a nuclear weapon. Operating reactors are being shut down and replaced with solar and wind power- Backed up by natural gas and coal. Most the ones that are kind of cute and cuddly- its energy farming. There's the intermittency problem, you have to have some way of getting energy during those time periods that it's not available. During the day we generate as much electricity as we can using solar. At night, when it's cloudy, we use more natural gas. Each year we probably get over 200 days of sunshine. But there's 165 more days without. As big as this solar plant is, it's not enough to meet our customers needs. The plant operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That's why we need natural gas. The result being higher, not lower greenhouse gas emissions. We are headed in the wrong direction. Will a marginally better solid fuel reactor change this? I don't think so. Because a marginally better solid fuel reactor is already under construction. It's a pretty darn good reactor. And it might almost become economically competitive with fossil fuel, if a strong learning curve is established in their manufacture and assembly. It has great passive safety features, designed to survive a Fukushima-like loss of power to its cooling pumps. I'd like to introduce you to the AP1000. The AP1000 plant is designed to meet the world's growing need for electricity. So how does Westinghouse explain this Pressurized Water Reactor's passive safety system to the public? As the steam from the in-containment refueling water storage tank fills containment, pressure increases until a certain point is detected by the instrumentation and control system. Then, the instrumentation and control system sends a signal to automatically open redundant, air-operated valves. Welcome to the exciting world of the nuclear industry communications. I was surprised looking at the communication of the AP1000, how it didn't seem like it was trying to appeal to a mass audience. They fear if there's any hint, that if you say hey there's a better reactor here. The new all-wheel-drive, all leather seats reactor has arrived, that casts doubt on the predecessors that are still in operation. The valves allow water to flow by gravity from the passive containment cooling water storage tank, located on top of the shield building, to provide additional cooling of the steel containment vessel. Are they trying to tell us the AP1000 is a particularly safe reactor? I'd also like to introduce you to Dr. Helen Caldicott. An AP1000, which is still a Light Water Reactor like the ones you have here, but it's cheaper because it's got less steel and less concrete in it and it's called an eggshell reactor in the industry. So it could easily have an accident it's very dangerous. She's a prominent anti-nuclear activist, and funded the author of this thorium dismissing report. I think you should not put nuclear energy on the table. It sucks the air out of the energy policy discussion. She uses debunked, fabricated visuals to sell books. Well they'll be dying of cancer, but they're not dying from lack of electricity. They might be sweating a bit in the summer. Oooh, but you mustn't be too hot in the summer! That's what we've got sweat glands for. And to scare people into protesting operating reactors. And the industry has never, ever, called her out on it. In Seattle the ambient levels of radiation went up 40,000x about normal. And I've got a few slides- This is the fallout from Fukushima. Ambient levels of radiation in Seattle went up 40,000x. This was released by the Australian radiation service, which is actually come to pass, so his Japan and hear you, and the ambient levels of radiation in Seattle went up 40,000x above normal. The ambient levels in Seattle went up 40,000x above normal. Because of this, Dr. Helen Caldicott knows she can say whatever she wants- With no regard for the truth. Parts of Tokyo are extremely radioactive. Nuclear power produces massive quantities of global warming gas. There are wild boar in Germany that almost glow in the dark. About 40% of the food probably in Europe is radioactive. More people have died from Chernobyl than in the Black Plague. Do you think that the industry should debunk people that are less credible? I think that when somebody makes false statements about nuclear, that's when you need to address those statements specifically. And in some cases you need to demonstrate why the person who made the statement has no credibility. A number of people are making false claims and they're not getting challenged. What's with the nuclear industry that they don't do that? They don't care, they don't have to. Big nuclear is going to survive and as a matter of fact is going to flourish. The industry has a philosophy of as long as nobody's thinking about us, that's a good thing. They like to do their job quietly and hope for the best. Look at what Westinghouse is doing in China. They have, to my knowledge, 4 AP1000 being built right now, another 12 on order. Maybe China's going a little fast but also the Chinese government is acutely aware of its pollution. It doesn't like nuclear power. Nuclear energy is kind of energy, it is safe. People in the city here, make their life better. For the oil and the coal is limited source. We are better to not use the coal. The industry can not get much energy from the sun. China is big country so nuclear power is necessary. There were some Eskimos- Inuits and they had their normal life and they dried their fish and platted the leather and hunted the polar bears and lived in the igloos. And then they got electricity. And then they got television. And then the young men and women lift to go to a better life, and their life was destroyed, that's what I'm talking about. I was in China in 88, there wasn't a single car. There were millions of bicycles. There was one tall building in Beijing. And I said, if China goes the way of America and all get refrigerators and cars- we've had it. There are people who are really using very, very little material and very, very little energy. They are so green. And they are so eager to stop being that kind of green. The main economic and demographic event in the world now is people are getting the hell out of poverty. Wires everywhere- because they need electricity to do all the stuff that means being part of the city. How can i change this distribution so that most of this energy is being generated by non-carbon emitting sources, and furthermore how can i grow the pie itself, so that other people in the world can enjoy energy at something a whole lot closer to a western lifestyle? Because most of the world especially developing world would love to have these things, and frankly, I think we should want them to have these things. People always talk about China's and consumption energy in the emission of CO2 of the largest quantity of the world. China export. Consumption of the energy in China is not only for China but for the world. But U.S. not only per-capita wise the highest energy consumption country, but also take advantage of other countries to make import of the goods. Energy consume the other countries rather than in the U.S. Lot of the energy used here in China is not for consume, is for production. A lot of energy consumption- It's an unbelievably optimized process. There's not the same room for improvement, which is largely industrial processes. This is a 200 ton electric arc furnace. The main power source for the furnace is electricity. So each furnace at max power is about 105 megawatts. So you've been able to drop your power consumption per tonne almost about a third it looks like. Probably since the mid- early- 80s. So besides your scrap material input, what's your next largest cost on production? Electricity. Electricity. In a week's time if both arcs a going, we'll use more electricity than the city of Chattanooga uses in a year. Yup. Wow. In fact, one of those things that we've been chasing is- You know we've got all the waste heat, but it's the nature of it that doesn't lend itself very well to, you know, throwing in a conventional Rankine cycle somewhere. In theory, back of a napkin kind of stuff, maybe we could recover another 20 or 30 megawatts out of the 200 we're sharing between these two furnaces. So we probably captured ninety percent of what's to be captured. Chasing the last ten percent is pretty expensive. Most people don't understand everything you look, touch, feel, anything that's tangible- there's energy behind it. A lot of it. Don't eat any Japanese food. No seaweed. No miso. No fish. Nothing. I know Japanese food is not- I went to a sushi restaurant in New York the other day. A sushi restaurant. People drinking sake, girls all dressed up, with big shoes that they wear these days, everything. And I said- Where do the fish come from? They said Japan. So I got fish from New Zealand. I mean, you have to the same people that demand fresh fish will be flown in from Alaska in cold storage, they're the ones that- Oh, we've got to have wind power, we've got to have all these all these options that aren't viable, so... Yeah. It's a frustration we felt in this industry. We saw the other day how electrical power was used to make steel from recycled materials. You know those operations couldn't proceed if they thought in 2 hours they might or might not have power. They would not be able to make steel that way. They have to have reliable energy sources. Well! Mozart and Shakespeare wrote by candlelight. Oooh! Candlelight? I'm writing an article for the International Herald Tribune now about the future of nuclear power and I ended it by saying that, and the editor wrote back and said you don't want to encourage people to think they have to go to candlelight again. Well what's wrong with candlelight? Right! That's right! The World Health Organization has concluded fossil fuel air pollution kills more than 3.5 million people per year. That's 10,000 people per day. 10,000 people is more than had been killed by nuclear power in the history of the planet. You know, so we have to- We have to be objective in comparing the environmental impacts of different energy sources. Until I heard about thorium and began learning about nuclear power I had no idea nuclear power was carbon-free. We have to phase out carbon emissions at a rate of several percent a year. I don't see any way we can do that without the help of nuclear power. Nuclear power is essentially carbon-free energy. And, until fact-checked Caldicott's dismissal of thorium- Educate your friends and get the word out about thorium. I had no idea how much misinformation has been propagated. As James Hansen says at NASA, the godfather of global warming, we've got to stop burning coal- Now! Germany's now decided that 80% of its energy is going to come from renewables- Shortly. The people who argue for all renewables think that- Well if we can go from 0% to 10% to 20% renewable then we're on the way and then it will get easier and we'll get 100%. Well it's actually, if you look at the engineering, it's actually the opposite. When you to 20 or 30%, then it gets harder! Not easier! ...because of the intermittency of the renewables. But, current reactors can only generate clean energy at questionable prices. Long periods between projects and long periods between the task- This is what I would call the ideal conditions for forgetting rather learning. If you're manufacturing you do the same task every week or month or day to depending on the time-step of the factory. These, you don't. You have different people, in different places, to different standards- This is a conditions for forgetting, not for learning. If AP1000's costs can be controlled enough to compete with coal plants, then coal will get cheaper. Successfully reducing our dependence on fossil fuel will result in a glut of cheap coal, oil and natural gas. We need more than borderline competitiveness to keep people from burning those cheaper and cheaper sources of dirty energy. Nuclear power plants are capable of much more than producing marginally competitive baseload electricity. So what can they do? Let's return to first principles, and then re-examine what it is the human race needs in order to thrive- with minimal impact on our environment. Let's take a peek at a future powered by nuclear! This is a little weird. We can radically cut climate change emissions and leave a safe clean world for the future. We don't need to invent anything new! We just need to stop wasting time with distractions like nuclear power. Come on! Let's build the future we all want to see! To understand why nuclear power has so much potential requires some effort. It requires you to exercise a little bit of study. Which part of this is doable, and could be safe, and could be acceptable in our society, and which part of this is not? And there's a collage of images that the anti-nuclear movement will throw you, usually of nuclear weapons. I hate nuclear weapons. I never want to see nuclear weapons used. I have no interest in that- But I do want to see nuclear power used to make my life, and my children's lives, and your children's lives safer and better. Think of the sun's heat on your upturned face on a cloudless summer's day. From 150,000,000 kilometres away- we recognize its power. When was the last time you watched Cosmos with Carl Sagan? Recently actually. Yeah? I showed it to my kids a couple years ago. Empire Strikes Back and Cosmos were probably two of my formative influences of the age of 6. The Sun is the nearest star- a glowing sphere of gas. The surface we see an ordinary visible light is at 6,000 degrees centigrade. But in its hidden interior- Super hot gas pushes the Sun to expand outward. At the same time The Sun's own gravity pulls it inward to contract. A stable equilibrium between gravity and nuclear fire. Atoms are made in the insides of stars. The atoms are moving so fast, that when they collide, they fuse. Helium is the ash of The Sun's nuclear furnace. The Sun is a medium-sized star, its core is only lukewarm 10,000,000 degrees. Hot enough to fuse hydrogen, but too cold to fuse helium. There many stars in the galaxy more massive yet, that live fast and die young in cataclysmic supernova explosions. Those explosions are far hotter than the core of the Sun. Hot enough to transform elements like iron into all the heavier ones, and spew them into space. Long before the Earth, our home, was built- stars brought forth its substance. Our planet, our society, and we ourselves, are built of star stuff. Now, two of the things that were created in supernova are thorium and uranium. These were different because they were radioactive and they kept some of that energy from the supernova explosion stored in their very nuclear structure. And some of this thorium and uranium was incorporated into our planet. Sinking to the center of the world, and heating our planet. Liquid iron circulating around the solid part of the core as Earth rotates- acts like a wire carrying electric current. Electric currents produce magnetic fields, and that's a good thing. Our magnetic field protects us from the onslaught of cosmic rays. A bigger deal- the magnetic field is deflecting the solar wind. If you don't have a magnetic field deflecting the solar wind, over billions of years your planet ends up like Mars. Because the solar wind will strip off a planet's atmosphere, without the protective nature of the magnetic field. So if we didn't have the energy from thorium inside the Earth we would be on a dead planet. The decay of radioactive elements in the core keeps it moving. Let's talk about radioactivity. Because I had an erroneous notion of what radioactivity was. I thought, that if you had something that had like a half-life of a day, and you had something had a half-life of a million years, it meant that the dude that was radioactive for a day is like brr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r for a day and then, ooop, I'm done. And the dude with the half-life for a million years is like brr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r for a million years, and then done. Ok, so you go- Which one of these is more dangerous? Well definitely the one that's got a half-life of a million years because that's got to be, like, radioactive forever, and the dudes that's radioactive for a day that's not a big deal, right? Completely wrong! Ok? Utterly backwards. The dude who is radioactive for a day is really, really radioactive! The dude who is radioactive for a million years is hardly radioactive at all. Which one of those two is more dangerous? The one that's radioactive for a day. By a long shot! Ok? So you're radioactivity is directly, and inversely proportional to your half-life. If somebody goes to you here's stuff that's got half-life of a million years- scary huh? You go, here give it to me, I'm going to put it in my hand. It's not going to hurt me. Agghh! It's not going to hurt me. Here's stuff with a half-life of a day- you want to hold it? No! No, keep it away from me man! That stuff is hot! But it's going away fast too, right? Got a longer half-life? Less dangerous. And I want to tear my hair out because what I haven't mentioned is radioactive waste. With all out radioactive waste? The main problem is radioactive waste. Close down all those reactors, now. With solar and wind and geothermal- Geothermal. What's green energy? And they go- Geothermal's green energy. Okay, do you you know where geothermal comes from? No. Comes from the decay of thorium inside the Earth. Oh. Is geothermal renewable? Yes. Ok, then thorium's renewable. No it's not you're using it up! Well, you're using up thorium as it decays inside the Earth. Any argument for geothermal, if it is rigorously pursued, is an argument for the renewability of thorium as an energy resource. The majority of American geothermal is harvested in the state of California, which has most of its geothermal energy harvested in the Imperial Valley. A typical Imperial Valley geothermal plant produces 40 tons of radioactive waste, every day. And they're saddled with all our radioactive waste, who do we think we are, Bob? Geothermal is creating 200 times the volume of radioactive waste that nuclear reactors do, per watt of power. I don't wanna wear a dosimeter. Don't want to calculate rems and sieverts. I don't wanna see no clean-up crew. Or get zapped before I hear the news. We can get the heat from Earth and Sun. And hook the wind to make the engines run. If common sense could only start- a chain reaction of the human heart- What a wonderful world this would be! Coal and gas plants are able to release radioactive material to the environment in much greater amounts than a nuclear plant would ever possibly be allowed to, because they are considered what's called N.O.R.M. - Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials. For instance, when you go frack a shale and you pull gas out, a lot of radon comes out with that too. Burn the gas that radon being released. Nobody counts that radon against the gas. If they did, the regulatory commission would shut the gas plant down. Same with coal. And they've spent a lot of money to make sure that regulatory agencies do not regulate N.O.R.M. for a coal or gas plant the way they regulate radioactive emissions from a nuclear plant. If they did we would be shutting down all our coal and gas plants- based on radioactivity alone. A fear of radiation, probably, is the basis of most fear of nuclear power in general. What is radiation? It's simply the idea that there are certain nuclei that radiate things from them. In the process of changing to something else they radiate something. Modern physics and chemistry have reduced the complexity of the sensible world to an astonishing simplicity! Three units put together in different patterns make, essentially, everything. The proton has a positive electrical charge. A neutron is electrically neutral. And an electron an equal negative electrical charge. Since every atom is electrically neutral, the number of protons in the nucleus must equal the number of electrons far away in the electron cloud. The protons and neutrons together make up the nucleus of the atom. If you're an atom and you have just one proton- You're hydrogen. 2 protons- helium. 3- lithium. All the way to 92 protons- in which case your name is uranium. For any given element, the number of protons must remain the same. But the number of neutrons may vary. The atomic weight of an atom is the number of protons plus the number of neutrons. Natural uranium may contain 142, 143 or 146 neutrons. That means- Uranium has 3 natural isotopes. U-234, U-235, and U-238. Some elements, such as tin, have a great number of natural isotopes. Others, such as aluminum, have only 1. Most isotopes are stable. They would never spontaneously change their atomic structure. But some isotopes are constantly changing. They're busy being radioactive. Given enough time, this Radium-88 isotope will shed energy and change. This is how isotopes in the Earth itself emit radiation. The geiger counter detects their presence. A cloud chamber makes these rays visible to the naked eye. Each new vapor trail shows that another atom has thrown off a fragment from its nucleus. Each atom does this only once before becoming a different isotope. This activity appears to go on endlessly. That's because there's billions of atoms in that tiny sample. You can't turn decay on and off. If we can turn radioactive decay on and off we can do all kinds of things be we've never figured out how to do it, I don't think we ever will. Because we simply can't influence the state of the nucleus like that. Hit it with a hammer. Boil it in oil. Vaporize it. The nucleus of an atom is kind of sanctuary. Immune to the shocks and upheavals of its environment. The atoms of each unstable element decay to constant rate. These mouse traps represent atoms that are radioactive. Every once in a while, a mousetrap's spring breaks down and snaps shut. A tiny bit of mass is converted into energy, as an atom changes spontaneously into a lighter isotope. Thorium has only one isotope, Thorium-232. It has a 14 billion year half-life. Ok, so when the universe is twice as old as it is now, thorium will have only decayed one half-life. So based on what I just told you about radioactivity, what does that tell you about how radioactive thorium is? Not very. It's hardly at all. Ok, uranium, two isotopes. Uranium-235, Uranium-238, both of course the radioactive. U-238 has a 5 billion year half life. That's pretty old, that's about how old the Earth is. That's how old the earth is, that's how old the universe is. Uranium-235 on the other hand, much shorter half-life, 700 million years. This is a handful of these uranium-oxide fuel pellets. You see in the picture, the guy's got gloves on. And so you think- He's got gloves on to protect him from the uranium oxide? But now that I've taught you about the true nature of radioactivity, you might go- I dunno Kirk I'm not so sure that stuff's so dangerous after all... And you would be correct! He's not protecting himself from the uranium- He's protecting the uranium from himself. That stuff has to stay super pure and super clean, and you don't want to get any of your oils, or grease, or sweat on nuclear fuel that's going to go inside a fuel rod so, that's what the gloves are for. Knowing that some atoms could spontaneously change, in 1939 scientists tried firing a neutron into the nucleus of a uranium atom, the heaviest and least stable atom found in nature. Instead of a minor change, from one isotope into another, the uranium atom split into two parts. When an atom is so unstable that it can be split into two by hitting it with a neutron, we call that "FISSILE". When the fissile atom was split apart the two fragment parts combined two parts combined were light than the original uranium atom. The missing mass was converted into energy. Also released were two neutrons. One free neutron has become two free neutrons. Now we have two neutrons. This implied a nuclear chain reaction in uranium. Obviously that's not what we want to do in reactors. Most reactors are completely incapable of sustaining that kind of neutron multiplication. You reach a point where only one fission is causing another fission and that is the notion of CRITICALITY. It's a state of balance. When you want to bring the reactor power you bring it to super-criticality, to a certain level. You up to you get to where you want to be, and then you level out at criticality. And one of the things I had wondered about for the longest time is it seems like this is such a precise balance. How would it be possible, in an engineer machine, to attain such an absolute perfect situation of balance? And what I found my great interest was- the NEGATIVE TEMPERATURE COEFFICIENT OF REACTIVITY. The reactor will become more reactive as it gets cooler and less reactive as it gets hotter. This notion of a chain reaction has perhaps been used a number of times to scare people about how nuclear fission reactions really take place in a reactor, as if they are an uncontrolled expansion of the number of fission events. That's not really what happens in a reactor. Somebody wondered one time- Ok, billion years ago that means there's a lot more Uranium-235 and natural nuclear reactors might have been possible. When you generate electricity from nuclear power you make 200 new elements that never existed before we fissioned uranium. We found in Africa, at a place called Oklo, in the Gabon [Africa], 2 billion years ago, there were scores of natural nuclear reactors there. That were nothing more than uranium ore in the rock and the water would come in and it would lead to a nuclear reaction. And these reactors ran for hundreds of millions of years. So we did not invent nuclear fission, alright? It was done long, long, long before we were here, and very successfully. Back when the earth was formed there was a lot more Uranium-235 then is now. Uranium-235 is like silver and platinum. Can you imagine burning platinum for energy? And that's what we're doing with our nuclear energy sources today, we're burning this extremely rare stuff, and were not burning the Uranium-238 and the thorium. Your uranium in Saskatchewan is so rich you don't even have to enrich it. It's extremely powerful. Caldicott is wrong. There is no natural source of isotopically enriched uranium. Natural uranium's isotopic ratios are identical- everywhere on Earth. The amount of uranium in the world finite. If all electricity today was generated with nuclear power there would only be a 9 year supply of uranium left in the whole world. In reality, there is no more a constrained uranium supply, than there is a constrained seawater supply. Uranium is water soluble, and it passes from the Earth's mantle, to the crust, to the ocean. Every year, the ocean contains more uranium than the previous year. What Caldicott refers to as "a 9 year supply of uranium" is in fact an infinite supply. Harvesting uranium from seawater is impractically expensive today, but that will undoubtedly change should our uranium mines ever be exhausted. I'm offering you to drill on one of the great undeveloped fields of little Boston. Those areas have been drilled. No they haven't. My straw reaches across the room. We're pretty inventive when it comes to harvesting natural resources. I drink your milkshake! I drink it up! We are never going to run out of uranium. It is quite literally a renewable resource. For all the difference that distinction makes. We need to have a realization that we've got about 35 years worth of oil left in the whole world. We're going to run out of oil. As a natural resource, the appeal of thorium over uranium, is that thorium has zero environmental cost to acquire. We can power our civilization on thorium without opening a single thorium mine. It is already a plentiful byproduct of existing mining operations. We need thorium and he needs somebody to get rid of Thorium. It's found in tailings piiles. It's found in ash piles. Let me tell you how this stuff was discovered- There was a guy named Glenn Seaborg who worked at Berkeley Labs in 1942. This was the guy who had discovered plutonium. He thought- I wonder if we could hit thorium with a neutron and turn it into something? And you gotta remember, fission had been discovered like three years earlier, so they were still in the very beginnings. Well, he got this grad student, you know, everyone who's been a grad student knows what it's like when the professor says: All right, I want you to go to the nuclear lab and turn on the neutron bombardment system, and expose this sample and find out what happenes. Yep, I've done it sir. I have made something new. Thorium did absorb the neutron, it became Uranium-233. Isn't that cool? Seaborg said yes, absolutely. Ok, now let's take the next step... poor little grad students... hit it with a neutron, and see if it will fission. Because I think it'll fission just just like Uranium-235. Ok, yes sir. Goes off, does the experiment, comes back and says: Yep. You're right. It did fission. You're correct, it is a new form of nuclear fuel. And Seaborg poped the really really, really important question, he said- Now I want you to go figure out how many neutron came off when it fissioned. Because if that number is below 2... we really don't have a story here. Sir the number is 2.5. Seaborg looks at his grad student, this is December 1942, and he said- You've just made a 50 quadrillion-dollar discovery. Seaborg was at absolutely right. He had figured out that thorium could serve as an essentially unlimited nuclear fuel. There really were 3 options for nuclear energy at the dawn of the nuclear era. Only one of the materials in nature is naturally fissile, and that's Uranium-235, which is a very small amount of natural uranium, about 0.7%. This was the form of uranium that could be utilized directly in a nuclear reactor. Most of the uranium was Uranium-238. This had to be transformed into another nuclear fuel called plutonium before it could be used. And then there was thorium. And in a similar manner, to Uranium-238, it also had to be transformed into another nuclear fuel, Uranium-233, before it could be used in a reactor. Ok this is the fast region, this is the thermal region. Squiggly lines, blah, blah, blah, blah, and- You can probably tell the entire history of the development of nuclear energy in this one graph, and I'll tell you why. How much energy did the neutron have, that you smacked the nuclear fuel with? Ok how much energy did it have? And then how many neutrons did you kick out when you smacked it through fission? Two is a very significant number in breeder reactors. You need two neutrons. You've got to have one to keep your process going, and you have to have another one to convert fertile material into fissile material. Ok, look at plutonium... eeeehhhhhh. It's that dip below 2 right there. That's what makes it so you cannot burn up Uranium-238 in a thermal-spectrum reactor, like a water-cooled reactor. You just can't do it. The physics are against you. And the reality is, you do lose some neutrons. You can't build a perfect reactor that doesn't lose any neutrons. They look at this and they said, man! We just can't burn Uranium-238 in a thermal reactor. It just can't be done! Well, these guys are undeterred, they said well here's what we'll do we'll just built a fast reactor. Because, look how good it gets in the fast region. Wow! It gets above 2, it gets up to 3! Wow, this is really good! Well there's a powerful disincentive to doing it this way and it has to do with what are called CROSS-SECTIONS. These are a way of describing how likely it is that a nuclear reaction will proceed. Look how much bigger the cross sections are in thermal than they are in fast. How many of these little dots are we going to need to add up to this size? We're going to a lot! So this is why it was a big deal to be able to have performance in this region of the curve. Those little bitty dots? They're up here in this part of the curve. Ok, this is a fast region, this is the thermal region. Thorium is more abundant than uranium. All we're consuming now is that very, very, very small sliver of natural uranium- But this is not the big deal! No! It's not a big deal that natural thorium is hundreds of times more abundant than the very small sliver of fissile uranium. Big deal about thorium is- that we can consume it in a thermal-spectrum. That's the big with thorium. Is it can be consumed in a thermal-spectrum reactor. When you're talking about a thermal-spectrum reactor- of any kind- you have to have fuel and you have to have moderator. And they're both essential to the operation the reactor. The moderator is slowing down the neutrons. And when the neutrons have been slowed down, we call them thermal neutrons or a thermal-spectrum. In a water-cooled reactor we use water, specifically the hydrogen in the water, to slow down the neutrons through collisions. The graphite in the Molten Salt Reactors, is that a moderator? Yes, that's the moderator in the reactor. Same idea, except we use graphite as the moderator instead of water. Neutrons going in the graphite, hit the carbon atoms, they lose energy, they slow down. Now why slow it down? That's the difference when you're going to into that little bitty dot, to the big dot. That's why you want to slow it down. You want the big dot, not the little bitty dot. A thermal-spectrum Molten Salt Reactor has to have the graphite moderator of the core in order to sustain criticality. If the vessel ruptures, recriticality is fundamentally impossible. The drain tank does not have any graphite in it. If something happens where that fuel drains away from that graphite, criticality is no longer possible, the reactor is subcritical- fission stops. And there's no way to restart it without reloading the fuel back into the core. This is such a remarkable feature. And it really is unique to having this liquid fuel form, and to having something to operate a standard pressure. You can't do this in solid fuel- you do this in solid fuel it's called a meltdown. That's bad. Now in a fast reactor, on the other hand, you don't depend on moderator you put enough fuel in the reactor so the criticality is possible even without moderator. In those scenarios, if there's a drain or a spill or something... you need to be careful about what geometries it could get into because recriticality is not, from first principles, impossible. It may be impossible in the design you design. But that becomes design specific. Where-as, in a thermal reactor, it is just impossible outside of the lattice of moderator- You can't have a criticality setup. In the thermal region, look who's doing the best. Look at Uranium-233. Look at that. Ok, look at plutonium... eeeeehhhh... it's that dip below 2 right there. You just can't do it. The physics are against you. But Uranium-233 on the other hand, okay yeah, it's a little better in the fast, but dang! It's still pretty dang good right here on the thermal. Big targets. A lot easier. This fact was not well known, probably tell about the 70s. There was some data that indicated it, but there was enough uncertainty even as late as 1969 that the Atomic Energy Commission did not feel like it was a safe bet to go with thorium. Everybody who was pushing thorium said- We like thermal! This is the kind of reactor we want to build. And everybody who was pushing plutonium said- No, no, no, no, we want a fast reactor! That's the only way to do it. And so what happened is they put resources into the plutonium breeder reactor almost from the get-go. They built the Experimental Breeder Reactor 1 in 1951. This was the first reactor that made electricity. Four little light bulbs here. This is a mock-up of the core. This size was giving off a megawatt of thermal energy. How tall is this, how many meters? Eight inches. That's the actual size? No, it's scaled down. No, it's full size! The EBR-1. This was a breeder reactor. It was designed to convert plutonium into energy while making new plutonium. This was not a Light Water Reac- This predated the Light Water Reactor by years! It was a fast breeder. This was 1951, no kidding. Enrico Fermi and Eugene Wigner saw the future quite a bit differently. Fermi believee that we should really focus our efforts on the fast breeder reactor. It could have a substantial breeding gain, in other words it could make more fissile material that it was consuming. Eugene Wigner on the other hand, looked at the same pieces of information and reached a different conclusion which was that thorium was a superior fuel and that it should be realized in a thermal spectrum in a thermal breeder reactor. And this opened up a number of possibilities with coolant and reactor configurations but thorium, in another way, was a rather unforgiving fuel. It did not have a great breeding gain like plutonium had the potential in the fast spectrum. You had to make sure that you are very careful and conserving of your neutrons. You couldn't waste a lot on losing neutrons to structural materials, or losing them to leaks out of the reactor, or losing them to absorptions in the daughter products of fission. And the thorium also had another challenge- it took about 30 days once it absorbed a neutron to turn into Uranium-233. There was a time delay there, between when it absorbed a neutron and when it became new fuel. Ferme wondered how it would be that thorium would overcome this problem of the delay from when it absorbed a neutron to when it became new fuel. And Wigner had already seen a possible path forward which was to do something revolutionary- Build a nuclear reactor out of liquid fuels rather than that of solid fuels. Wigner was not successful in convincing the bulk of the nuclear community to take the thorium approach. But he did make one convert, this guy, Alvin Weinberg. He was his student during the Manhattan Project. Of course I heard about Eugene Wigner as this great, incredible physicist. I gradually became his assistant, in charge of the nuclear design. And Weinberg got it. He got the big picture. He got- We need thorium, we need thermal reactor, we need liquid fuel- I see it. I see what we got to do. Now both thorium and Uranium-238 can become nuclear fuels by absorbing a neutron. There's a few steps thorium goes through on this way. It first absorbs a neutron and becomes Thorium-233 going from 232 to 233. And then that Thorium-233 will decay over a period of about half an hour into another element, Protactinium-233, and Protactinium-233 have a half life of about 30 days. In terms of reactors that's pretty long, and it drives a lot of what I'm going to talk about with the chemical processing. But ultimately it will decay to Uranium-233 - so long as it does not absorb a neutron - and it has a very quality fission. About 91% of the time it's going to fission rather than absorb. And that makes U-233 the best fuel in the thermal spectrum, it outperforms everything else, and it's one of the reasons we really get a kick out of thorium. The process by which we would use thorium in the reactor involves introducing thorium into an outer region of the reactor called the blanket. And in the blanket the thorium would absorb the neutron- It would take that first step number, remember, 232 to 233? It's going to absorb a neutron and it's going to begin the process of becoming Uranium-233. Now, as it takes those steps of decay, turning into other elements, protactinium and then uranium we can employ a chemical separation to remove those new materials from the blanket, and then introduce them into the salt that is going to go in the reactor core. And that's the place where the fission reaction is going to take place. That's the place where it's going to generate additional energy. This is the machine that we would like to design, this is the Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor. It has a reactor vessel made of Hastelloy-N. We know that we have to protect this material from the difficult environment it's going to encounter inside the reactor. And so that's why the overwhelming majority of the interior of the reactor is composed of graphite structures. Graphite structures that separate the fuel that flows through these recursive tubes from the blanket. And the blanket fluid surround the entire core the reactor. It's hard to see the boundary between the blanket and the core, but that blanket protects the metallic structures from the radiation damage. It protects from neutron flux. It basically keeps that nuclear reaction bottled up in a region of the reactor where it's not going to cause nearly the damage to material that would otherwise cause. For instance, in a one-fluid reactor where you could have fission occurring right up to the very edge of the metallic structure. In a two-fluid reactor there's a lot of thorium containing fluid between the edge of the core and the reactor wall that absorbs neutrons, gammas, and radiation flux and prevent it from damaging the material. Because we know that metal does have some severe issues when it's close to the nuclear reaction. But once this fuel leaves the reactor structure, fission stops. And so there's not an appreciable neutron or radiation flux outside the reactor to nearly to the degree that there is inside the reactor. So graphite is a very important structural material in this design. It has two different fluids. Primary fuel salt highly depleted lithium-fluoride beryllium-fluoride and uranium-tetrafluoride. The blanket fluid is highly depleted lithium, beryllium and thorium tetrafluorides and that's where that nuclear absorption of neutrons taking place in the formation of new fuel. The coolant salt is highly depleted lithium beryllium. Simply call it "Bare FLiBe. And that coolant salt then is very chemically compatible in the event of this ever an in-leakage into the fuel or into the blanket. Because it's essentially the same solvent of which the blanket and the fuel are composed. This is an overall view of the LFTR facility. There's the reactor vessel. Drain tank. Pump. Primary heat exchanger. This is the gas heater, it heats a carbon dioxide.There's the carbon dioxide gas turbine. These are chemical processing facilities for the fuel salt and the blanket salt. And then these are off-gas processing facilities for the xenon and krypton to come out of the fuel salt during operation. If you're not a chemist this next part may be hard to follow. It isn't important to understand every step of the process, only that you consider how much more challenging these steps would be if the fuel was in solid, rather than liquid form. Here's the reactor. Got a lot of graphite and the core. The green fluid is the fuel salt. So this is the material that's undergoing nuclear fission. The uranium in this is undergoing nuclear fission and generating energy. As you can see, the two regions here. There's the fuel salt region and surrounding it in kind of the turquoise blue is the blanket salt region. In the blanket salt, protactinium is formed from neutron absorption on thorium in the blanket. That blanket salt proceeds to a reductive extraction column where it's contacted with metallic bismuth that will remove protactinium in any uranium that's present there and return a cleaned up blanket salt back to the reactor vessel. That metallic bismuth stream then proceeds through a series of additional reductive extraction cells and electrolytic cells before ending up in a decay tank. In the decay tank we give the protactinium time to decay to Uranium-233. And, actually there's several other protactinium isotopes in there as well- 231 and 232. 232 will also decay to Uranium-232. Uranium-232 is still present in the decay tank here because of its formation in the blanket. So protactinium goes into the decay salt. Decayed uranium comes out. And this is also where we add thorium-tetrafluoride as a makeup material. This is where thorium actually enters the chemical processing system. As uranium begins to grow in, in the decay salt, it is removed through fluorination and then it's added to a stream. And, let me pick up from the fuel-salt's perspective- Fuel salt is taken out and it's fluorinated also to remove uranium and other gaseous hexafluoride products. Those two streams are joined at that point. The remaining fuel salt, now stripped of its uranium, goes to another reductive extraction column, where metallic bismuth is used to remove lanthanides and long-lived fission products. And then, that stream is returned to a reductive extraction unit where the UF6, the fuel salt and hydrogen gas is used to reduce UF6 back to UF4, bringing it back into solution and essentially refueling the fuel salt, and sending it back to the reactor vessel. The HF that is produced by this reaction goes to an electrolytic cell where it is split back into H2 which is used again for the reduction, and F2 which is used for the fluorination steps. So all of this forms a closed-cycle. The upshot of the whole thing is you're going to move these new nuclear fuels out of the blanket into a decay salt. And the reason for this is that one month period. It takes a month for Protactinium-233 to decay to Uranium-233. You want this to happen outside of the reactor. And the reason you want that to do it, is because it has a propensity to absorb a neutron inside the reactor, if you leave it there. You do not want your protactinium to absorb a neutron, become Protactinium-234, which then decays to U-234, which is not a fuel. But where do all the fission products go? They come out here, as a stream. Stream 54. And if we've done this right there is no actinides in there. This is kind of like a kidney for the nuclear reactor. You know if you imagine that these fluids are like blood- Your body does very, very complicated chemical processes all the time in order to keep you alive. It's changing the pH of your blood. It's adding glucose. It's taking out waste product. If you use thorium with this kind of efficiency, something really amazing becomes possible. Every cubic meter of the Earth has got a certain amount of uranium and thorium in it. About two cubic centimeters of thorium, and half a cubic centimeter of uranium. If you can use thorium to the kind of efficiencies that we're talking about today, this has the energy equivalent of more than 30 cubic meters of the finest crude oil or anthracite coal. This is like taking any worthless piece of dirt, anywhere in the world, and turning it into multiples of the finest chemical energy resources we have. I mean that's absolutely amazing. That's something that- that just completely changes our paradigm about relative national wealth and resources and so forth. That means worthless pieces of dirt become potential energy mines. Now, good news is we don't have to mine average continental crust for thorium. There's lots of places where nature has already pre-concentrated thorium in much greater concentrations than this. Thorium is so common in the earth's crust, that an average American's yearly energy demand- including industry, and transportation- could be met by a half barrel of everyday rock. But the key is to very efficiently convert thorium into energy. If we had more of today's reactors in operation, 1 cup of uranium oxide would cover a typical American's yearly energy demand. Per-capita, that's the equivalent of burning 54 barrels of oil. Every year, for every single American. Or, 12 tonnes of coal. Or, 53 hundred cubic feet of natural gas, to generate the same amount of energy. 4 grams of thorium can power a middle-class American lifestyle for a full year. That's just 4 grams. But this can only happen if the reactor is efficiently fueled with chemically homogeneous liquid fuel, if the reactor runs at high temperature, and the power generator is optimized to take advantage of the reactor's high temperature operation. The power generation takes place when fuel salt is pumped through the primary heat exchanger. It then heats the coolant salt. Bare FLiBe then proceeds outside of the containment and heats carbon dioxide. Supercritical carbon dioxide gas, at about 550C turbine inlet temperature, which then proceeds through a supercritical carbon dioxide recompression turbine cycle. And that is a highly recuperated cycle that has two recuperation stages and two compression stages. But ultimately the gas is cooled, compressed, recuperated, and reheated in a closed cycle. The performance of the carbon dioxide gas turbine is such that it leads to very, very compact turbomachinery. The turbo machinery for this entire reactor would easily fit on this stage. Probably on half this stage. And if anybody's been to a big reactor before and seen big steam cycle turbomachinery you can appreciate what a reduction in scale that is. It's about 45% efficient too, which is really, really attractive. What Kirk describes is something new to this world. High efficiency power conversion enabled by the high operating temperature of molten salt. Complete burnup of nuclear fuel enabled by a combination of homogeneous liquid fuel, online chemistry, and thermal breeding. Such as Alvin Weinberg and the team at ORNL intended to build until the molten salt breeder program was suddenly terminated. We were minor-league, money-wise, compared to the other program. Put your hand on your desk, take everything that has to do with molten salt, sweep it off and you're finished. I didn't suit coming. Shaw says, stop that MSRE reactor experiment. Fire everybody. Just tell them to clear out their desks and go home. And send me the money for fast-breeders. This is the thorium reactor. Can you tell me what the thinking is on thorium as a fuel? What the advantages are, what the disadvantages are, what the pros and cons are of thorium? The first commercial reactor operated in this country at Shippingport was based on thorium fuel. My constituents are always asking me about this- Does thorium have a place in our nuclear future? Can you make them work? Yes, you can make them work. Is there an advantage to doing it? I haven't seen it. There's about 4x more thorium on Earth than there is uranium. But at the moment uranium is cheap enough that simply doesn't matter. It's, I think, one of these sort of technological cults. An atom of thorium and an atom of uranium both contain the same amazing millionfold improvement in energy density over coal. It isn't that an atom of thorium contains any more energy than an atom of uranium. Or that natural thorium is much more common than natural uranium. But we don't consume natural uranium in today's reactors. There's about 4x more thorium on Earth than there is uranium. That number is irrelevant. Thorium is 400x as common as Uranium-235. And we can't harness the full power of natural uranium with the thorium breeder. That's a bigger challenge. To fully burn up natural uranium we need a fast-spectrum reactor, such as the Integral Fast Reactor shown in Pandora's Promise, complete with solid fuel reprocessing facility- which includes liquid chemistry. Or, we need the Traveling Wave Reactor [that] Bill Gates has invested in. Both reactors use solid fuel which becomes heterogeneous as the fuel is consumed. Just like today's reactors, any one piece of fuel will eventually become too used up to sustain fission before its energy potential has been fully realized. It is the semi-fissioned fuel which then must be reprocessed into new fuel, or treated as waste. The elimination of fuel fabrication, and the elimination of fuel reprocessing, as a distinct step, are essential if you want to harvest the smallest amount of natural resources and produce the smallest amount of nuclear waste. Because the economics of nuclear power don't favor reprocessing fuel, It will always be cheaper to simply dig up more uranium, rather than using every atom you've already mined. The most environmentally friendly way to operate the thorium breeder is the only way to operate the thorium breeder. If you stop the chemical kidney, then fission slowly grinds to a halt. The chemical kidney lets us continually remove used-fuel and keep adding fresh-fuel. It is how our thorium fuel can be completely converted into energy and fission products. Bill Gate's Travelling Wave reactor is the most ambitious reactor ever proposed for consuming solid uranium fuel. Years ago, he described it like this- a giant uranium candle-stick being fissioned from one end to the other. But the realities of heterogeneous solid fuel led to this: constant shuffling of solid fuel rods, in an attempt to ensure the fuel is consumed as uniformly as possible, to sustain fissionas long as possible. Is liquid fuel really that hard to work with? People recycle cans they recycle papers. Why not candles? I say we put a bin out, let people bring back their old drippings at their convenience. It's like those bags that say I used to be a plastic bottle. We could have a bin that says- I used to be another candle. And when they bring in those candles, we'll put them in another bin that say I used to be another, antoher candle. Yeah and then eventually we just have one that says, trust me, I've been another candles. By weight, a paraffin candle stick and gasoline contain about the same amount of energy. Why don't cars run on paraffin wax? Because the inside of your car might need to look something like this, or like this. What process do we run chemically based on solids? We don't. Everything we do, we use as liquids or gases, because we can mix them completely. You can take a liquid you can fully mix it. You can take a gas you can fully mix it. You can't take a solid and fully mix it, unless you turn it into a liquid or a gas. You know, the people build Light Water Reactors are physicists and engineers. And this is a whole lot of chemistry that they're maybe not so comfortable with. So it's the chemistry of it that makes it so special, but it's also the bit that existing nukes kinda go- You know, oooh, we were going into realms I don't, perhaps, feel comfortable. In the nuclear space there are other innovators. You know, we don't know their work as well as we know this one, but the modular people- that's a different approach. There's a liquid type reactor which seems little hard but maybe they say all about us, uh. And so, there are different ones. Although Bill Gates Traveling Wave Reactor is still advertised to the public as a mechanical device shuffling natural uranium fuel rods around. TerraPower sought and received a research grant from the department of energy in 2015. It is for the study of a uranium fueled fast-spectrum Molten Salt Reactor. Uh, can you make them work? Yes, you can make them work. Is there an advantage to doing it? I haven't seen. Unless you're using slowed down, thermal-spectrum neutrons. Thorium breeding offers no advantage over uranium breeding. Dr. Lyons report's investigation of Molten Salt only includes fast-spectrum, not thermal-spectrum. That is why he sees no thorium advantage over uranium. In a single sentence the report dismissed the thorium reactor chemical kidney. In doing so, the thorium advantage is also dismissed. Alvin Weinberg knew the kidney would be required. His team knew it before they even started constructing the Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment. So it's a bit disappointing to see Weinberg's chemical kidney dismissed, as- a drawback that could be potentially eliminated It's an essential tool that will fundamentally change our relationship to atomic power. And they're saddled with all our radioactive waste. Who do we think we are, Bob? And I want to tear my hair out because what I haven't mentioned is radioactive waste. The main problem is radioactive waste. We're going to stop creating nuclear waste and we're going to start creating fission products. When you don't use materials efficiently you make waste. You make material that should have been used as a fuel, and rather end up as a waste. You have some fissile nuclide. That means- This is a nucleus that if you hit it with a neutron the nucleus begins to distend, and a piece comes off. The smaller piece is about 30 or 40% the original mass of the nucleus, and the larger fission product is basically what was left over. And so what this leads to- a double humped distribution in the masses of the fission products. On this table you see the smaller fission product highlighted in yellow and then the heavier fission product highlighted in green. And then there's this gap for a while where- There are things that simply are not made by fission. Tungsten. Gold. Mercury. None of those are made by fission. And then when you get to thallium- Now you're getting to what's called the decay products. These are not formed by fission. They're formed when you leave uranium and thorium and plutonium alone for, you know, hundreds or thousands of years they will decay into these products, and those are shown in this chart in a pink color. And then, there is what's called the transuranics. That's what happens when the uranium absorbs the neutron and doesn't fission. It turns into plutonium and americium and curium and a few others. Most of its plutonium. I mean, the overwhelming majority of transuranics are plutonium. You get a lot of different things from fission, but you don't get everything. And that's significant. It's not as if you're dumping the whole periodic table out when you- when you make fission. You get certain elements in a preponderance, and you get some very rarely, and get some not at all. For instance, you can't make gold from fission. When we first load nuclear fuel in a uranium fueled reactor it is entirely uranium and most of that is Uranium-238. As it burns down, first at a year, 2 years, and then 3 years- You see the formation of other things. These are the fission products, as well as some of the transuranics. The hatch at the bottom gives away the fact that most of the rod is still Uranium-238. The overwhelming majority is still this unburned Uranium-238. Still most of that potential energy remains to be exploited, in fact the only fraction that has been truly burned is the fraction you see in kind of those light pastel colors. Those are the fission products. But the remainder of the material is unrealized energy. Xenon is the most common of the fission products. And here is Xenon-135 cross-section relative to 2 nuclear fuels. Ok, see these little bitty guys? So imagine we're playing darts or something and throwing them. Which one are we going to hit, here? I mean we're going to hit the big red dot. When Xenon-135 forms from fission it really wants to eat your neutron. They're called fission products. They're the product of fission. You split an atom you got smaller atoms- that can poison the fuel itself and kill fission- Unless the poisons can come out of fuel. This turns out to be a big problem for real nuclear reactors. This was one of the first reactors that was ever built this was the Hanford Reactor. They turned it on and everything seemed to be going. And after about a day or two of running it, all of a sudden the power went: peeeeewwwwwww, and dropped like almost to zero. And they left it alone, and after about, you know, 12, 18 hours, all of a sudden: peeeeeewwwwww- it came back up to power again and held there. And they're going, What!? And then pretty soon it goes: peeeeeewwwwwww. And it drops off again. They're going- It makes no se- We're not doing anything! The thing's like, turning on and it's turning off. And turning on, and turning off. Well, what was going on was, the reactor would turn on, and Xenon-135 would begin to build up. And as it built up, it would start eating all those neutrons, right? And then went: peeeewwww. And it would take the reactor back down again. And then after a while it would decay away. Once it decayed away: peeeewwww! The reactor would come back on again! So it was following this up-and-down effect. Just crazy. I mean these guys didn't even know what Xenon-135 was, 'cause this was like one the first nuclear reactors ever built. This actually was a contributing effect to the Chernobyl disaster, was the presence of Xenon-135. I have a friend I have made online who is a nuclear reactor operator, and he goes: I'm always fighting Xenon in my reactor, that's like all we do as operators just try to deal with this stuff. And it's really hard to deal with... in solid fuel reactors. Xenon is a gas. What happens to gases in a liquid? They come right out of solution. NASA uses xenon to throw out the back-side of an ion engine. We used to joke at NASA that xenon was one of the few things worth launching into space because it actually costs about as much as it cost to put up in space. One man's waste is another man's treasure. And it doesn't take a lot of thought to come up with clever ways of utilizing that waste. You can help a lot of people and you can monetize that waste. And you do it safely. And you can do it, in some cases, for very strategic reasons. By extracting the first 4 fission products: xenon, neodymium, zirconium & molybdenum Right away you've reduced the waste stream considerably. What about the rest? The two troublemakers are strontium and cesium. But even those two could have very useful applications. Strontium-90 could be fabricated into little heating modules. Cesium-137 could be used to irradiate food. Food irradiation does not cause the food to become radioactive, that doesn't happen. But by irradiating strawberries or lettuce or other leafy vegetables you can kill e-coli. And e-coli does kill people. In fact, it kills a lot of people each year. Think of your home, think of your pantry. Now imagine taking everything out of your pantry and pouring it on the floor. So your sugar and your cornflakes and your flour and your baked beans and, you know, everything is in a big pile on the floor. How valuable is that giant mix to you? It's not valuable at all. It's worthless. It's completely worthless. What- all you'd do is shovel it up and you throw in the trash. What makes the stuff in your pantry valuable is the fact it is separated. The sugar's in one container and the flower's in another and your cornflakes in another altogether. So what we got with nuclear waste is we've got that pile of everything mixed together. Almost every one of those things is useful, isolated and separated from everything else. I might show you some slides- what's really in a nuclear reactor. Barium. Lanthanum. Cerium. Praseodymium. Neo- Neo- I can't pronounce that. That's the most important slide you're going to see tonight. And that's what nobody knows! It started in the 40s, as the result of nuclear fission, as a result of splitting of the atoms, you got a lot of rare earth elements. We literally had atomic level control over this and we studied the hell out of them. The idea of splitting matter, and of creating other particles- You're getting into a lot of alchemical realms that I think starts bumping into a lot of people's... religious fears? We have to have humility and understand who we are, and that we're not- We're not God! We're just fallible human beings who make mistakes and therefore we must eradicate all things nuclear. Neo- Neo- I can't pronounce that. Promethium. Samarium. Europium. They name them, a lot of them after themselves, these physicists. Gadolinium. Terbium. Dysprosium. Holmium. Thulium. Lutetium. Hafnium. Tantalum. Tungsten. What might we use these for? Maybe they're so exotic they'll just be curiosities? We've been there before. That was said of most of the elements that were discovered on the periodic table. For example, who would have thought an obscure semi-metal, germanium discovered in the 1880s would turn out to be the crucial ingredient in the development of transistors? That, 70 years later? Neodymium and Samarium, regarded for a century as just curiosities... they turned out to be essential to the construction of super-powerful permanent magnets. I hate to even call this stuff that is made by the thorium cycle waste, because Neptunium-237 is actually used to produce the material that NASA uses for batteries in their deep-space probes. Now if you can operate a thorium reactor without any Uranium-238 present in the fuel, then you can really reduce the amount of transuranic waste you're going to generate. And the reason for that is, the thorium absorbing a neutron- Each one of these vertical steps is a neutron absorption. But thorium absorbing the neutron 90% of the time will be fissioned by the next neutron. Now 10% of the time it will go to u-234, which absorb another neutron going to U-235. Think of these like off-ramps off the freeway. So, I have 90% of the cars exit the freeway on the first off-ramp, and 85% of cars that are left over exit the freeway on the next off-ramp- How many are there to make your first transuranic? Only 1.5%. So with the thorium cycle you could potentially get down to one-and-a-half percent of the long-lived waste production of the uranium cycle. And that's a big advantage. So here's what we're doing now- this is the red line on a log-log chart. Red line on a log-log chart, you know, tread lightly. But this is how long it takes for spent fuel to reach the same radioactivity as natural uranium, it's about 300,000 years. If you can keep all actinides out of the waste stream, then you can really shorten that to about 300 years. It's where it's positioned on the periodic table. It goes down the chain into different elements and to the right of uranium are pretty nasty isotopes. But if you start a couple of steps to the left along the periodic table, the waste that it creates it doesn't get down as far as those really nasty elements. So, inherently, by starting up the periodic table by a couple of steps, you take out most of the nasties in the waste. People are terrified of nuclear waste. Those opposed to nuclear power have had 50 years of unchallenged fear mongering on the subject. Whatever they put this waste in, it's so hot and radioactive, be it glass, ceramics, metal or whatever will start to disintegrate within 10 years. And they're saddled with all our radioactive waste. Tear my hair out because what I haven't mentioned is radioactive waste. The main problem is radioactive waste. Americium, Einsteinium, Neptunium, Plutonium. 236 pins or tubes that have the fuel pellets in them make up a fuel assembly. And there are 241 fuel assemblies that make up the reactor fuel load. Nuclear waste is mixed together because it is all trapped together in solid fuel rods. With liquid fuel this is no longer the case. Thorium goes into the reactor as fuel, and the fission products which come out need no longer be referred to as waste. And it rods break that will release argonne, krypton, xenon, cesium, radioactive iodine and all sorts of things. The scariest way to describe nuclear waste, is to describe its total tonnage, and then list the most dangerous things contained within. Because nuclear waste contains hundreds of different isotopes, this is a list from which anti-nuclear campaigners can choose from like a menu at a restaurant. How radioactive is nuclear waste? As radioactive as the isotope with the shortest half-life. How long-lasting is nuclear waste? As long-lasting as the isotope with the longest half-life. Let's go have a look at some. In the 90s, the Connecticut Yankee Power Station was decommissioned. And here, what you can see, is the entire load of spent fuel for 28 years of operations. That produced in its lifetime, from a small nuclear reactor, 110 million megawatt-hours of electricity with no greenhouse-gas emissions. And that's every bit of fuel that was required to do it is sitting there in storage. Quietly. Happily. Causing nobody any problems. And I'm sure you'll agree that's a pretty small facility. Let's just have a look at it in the context of the landscape. It's a pretty place, Connecticut, surrounded by state parks. What you see there- That is the source of decades of anti-nuclear fear mongering on the basis of spent nuclear fuel. That's it. That's what we've been told to be afraid of. We've been told by generations of anti-nuclear activists to build up in our minds- this- into such a fearful monster that we have to reject it at all costs. Even if the cost might be a habitable climate. Now, I'm not afraid of it. Do you know what I see when I look at it? I see another 10 billion megawatt-hours of electricity, because that fuel is just waiting to be recycled and reused in a fast reactor. Out in the desert in Idaho, are the Argonne National Laboratories. You can see Experimental Breeder Reactor 2. There's the reactor building. And directly attached to it, is the fuel recycling facility. So, the so-called nuclear waste we have sitting in places like Connecticut- In that we have the most staggering large quantity of clean fuel. We've already mined it. The rods generate energy by transforming some of the uranium into different elements. Fission products start to build up. We need chemistry to separate them out. But since the fission products are thoroughly mixed with the uranium- pyroprocessing. A nifty technology invented by Argon scientists. Thing is, they call it pyroprocessing, but it's a molten salt process. They're dissolving this thing in a molten salt and they're doing electrochemistry on it. After chopping the fuel rods into small pieces you submerge them in a vat of molten salts. When you run an electric current through the vat, the uranium and transuranics separate out and form crystals on the electrodes. Molten salt can not only be a fuel, it's a way to reprocess or process nuclear fuels, and clean them up for reuse. So, the entrepreneur in me says- Hey, wait a second! Let's go grab those fuel rods and go make money off them! I know that I can save lives by using those isotopes. I know that I can make money, and better society with those isotopes. The promise of turning nuclear waste into energy with liquid fuel has gotten Dr. Leslie Dewan on CNN, and allowed Transatomic Power to raise millions of dollars for lab experiments and computer simulation of their Molten Salt Reactor. There's enough energy trapped inside those spent fuel rods to power the entire planet for decades. All the ash that builds up from the burning of coal they put in a big pile. It's called a tailings pile. Well, no break this week for crews in Tennessee trying to clean up that mess of potentially toxic sludge that oozed across hundreds of acres of land just west of Knoxville. Crews are using heavy equipment to clear away sludge that inundated a neighborhood near Harriman, Tennessee. 5.4 million cubic yards [of] coal ash residue that comes from burning coal to create electricity at the power plant that is run by the Tennessee Valley Authority. That ash is now entered into the neighborhood, entered into the land and most importantly- into two rivers here in the Tennessee River watershed. In that ash are heavy metals like lead, mercury, cadmium, and arsenic. You can see the ask. Look, they're still digging it- Oh, man! Look at that! Four years later, still working on it. What did it spill from? It absorbs a lot of moisture, Gordon. When we had that big rainstorm it actually took on a lot of water and held it, to where the piles just collapsed and flowed downhill. You say an ash pile washed down, I don't see an ash pile big enough where something- That's because it already washed down. It used to be a mountain. And now it's just a big wash. Pretty much every coal plant has a huge ash tailings pile. This is not unique. They've all got them. This is- this is the the waste of coal. I did some analysis in the UK coal stations. This one probably emits more, but it's about a ton of CO2 every 5 seconds. This is my biggest worry. Not small quantities of contained nuclear waste. But mountains of a low-level chemical waste which can suddenly become toxic pollution. Or worse yet- The chemical pollution we dump directly into the oceans and the atmosphere. So it might not seem like it, but it's the middle of the day here in Beijing. The air is so polluted that its darkened the sky. Waste is contained. Pollution is uncontained. It is air pollution which kills millions of people each year, including thousands of Americans. It is air pollution which increasingly traps the Sun's energy. And, it is air pollution that Germany continues to produce- despite their staggeringly expensive deployment of intermittent energy sources. This is a democratically-elected industrialized nation wasting billions of dollars. It can happen. During the height of Wednesday's blackout, fire crews had to free people trapped in elevators. The idea of playing elevator roulette may sound funny but try living with it. Let's go, let's go! Come on! Come on. My baby! Put yourself in the middle of California, during the summer of 2000, when blackouts began to roll across the state. Sacramento, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Long Beach, San Diego. The energy crisis would cost California $40 billion. For the second day in a row not enough electricity for America's largest state, and the world's sixth largest economy. I- I can feel for them, I was out of power four times this weekend, for a total of over 10 hours. They simply wasn't enough electricity available. As the blackouts continued, there were competing narratives presented by media. One such narrative was: This is just an unusual heat wave, generating capacity is going to catch up. Today we know- there was much more to it than that. The first thing we heard about this energy crisis is our lights are going to go off in the middle of winter, when we're using half the electricity we normally use during the summer! We had an installed capacity in California at the time of 45,000 megawatts. Plenty of power! We only need 28,000 to 30,000 megawatts in December. Of course we had blackouts in December. The numbers just didn't add up. We'll had enough power in California, it was never about lack of supply. You know, talking about OPEC puts me in mind of a simpler time, when the energy interest we were held hostage to were American ones. Given the complexity and dryness of the subject it seemed impossible that charges could ever be proven- unless... somehow... somebody turned up some sort of smoking gun. Which brings us to last week- Hey John, it's Tim. Regulatory's all in a big concern about is we're wheeling power out of California. Two Enron traders discuss a colleagual manipulation of the California power market. He just F***** California. He steals money from California to the tune of about- Will you rephrase that? Ok, he um- he arbitrages the California market to the tune of a million bucks or two a day. Right! Those greedy mother arbitrageurs! Oooohhh! Enron traders started to export power out of the state. I'll see you guys I'm taking mine to the desert. When prices soared they brought it back in. So we ****ing export like a mother******. Getting rich? Trying to. What are the permutations and combinations of ways to move power around the west? Traders would stay after a 12-hour shift and pour over maps of the western energy grid. And I think that's something that Enron knew better than any other energy marketer in the country, period. We know all of the California load. We know all of the California imports. By shutting down power plants they could create artificial shortages that would push prices even higher. Hey, uh- This is David up at Enron. Uh huh? There's not much demand for power at all, and if we shut it down, could you bring it back up in 3 or 4 hours? Okay. When you see 30, 35% of their entire capacity down for maintenance on a single day, the price electricity skyrocketing 300% or 400%, you begin to believe something's not smelling right here. We're getting pretty spoiled with all this money. You said you're a little scared we're making a little too much, and I tend to agree with you. At the flip of a switch could just yank the California economy on its leash whenever they wanted to. And they did it. And they did it. And they did it. And they made so much money! We want you guys to get a little creative- Okay... -and come up with a reason to go down. Like a forced outage type thing? Right. An industry that went for 100 years, from the days of Edison, was very reliable, was all of a sudden turned into a casino. [You] can't treat electricity like you treat oranges. It's the lifeblood of society. There would be ample supply available, at the right F****** price. They're F****** taking all the money back from you guys? All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California? Yeah, Grandma Millie, man! Yeah, now she wants her F***** money back from all the power you've charged her right up- jammed right up her *** for F****** $250 a megawatt hour. California's man-made blackouts began in June of 2000, before intermittent energy sources, such as wind power, had any meaningful presence. Back then, almost all energy produced was of a reliable nature. There were no questions about clouds in the sky, or how windy it was across the state. There was only a glaring discrepancy between generating capacity, and lack of power. Even so, it took actual audio recordings of Enron traders joking about poor Grandma Millie, before everyone could finally agree on what had happened. That no greater good had been served by skyrocketing energy prices and rolling blackouts. They weren't a necessary teething pain of deregulation, or the kick in the pants needed to get more generating capacity built. Enron traders had deliberately constrained California's access to electricity, and they got rich doing it. It took 4 years to achieve clarity on those blackouts. We might not be so lucky next time. Intermittent energy sources do not lend themselves to clarity. When the media talk about peak production capacity, and don't mention capacity factor, that's not clarity. On the best day they're doing pretty well, midday, right? But on the worst day, in January, you've got nothing. But this is what everybody forgets. As if the planet stops rotating, the clouds part, and Germany is baking in the Sun. You know, 'cause the Sun shines on Germany 24 hours a day! Tom Friedman, the other day, The New York Times, brought up Germany an example- saying that Germany is 30% wind and solar. Most self-described environmentalists believe that chunk is entirely wind and solar. Wind and solar. When the media brands Germany's renewable program as one of solar & wind, omitting biomass- that's not clarity. This is not the fault of solar and wind technology. They are very useful, so long as we recognize, and plan, for their limitations. To fully harness intermittent power, we need both a smart grid, and inexpensive energy storage. Today we have neither. And I think it is very risky to presume we will get both. As we deploy renewables, increasingly, wind ends up losing to wind, and solar ends up losing to solar. They deliver energy, or fail to, at the same time. The greater the solar and wind penetration, the steeper the peaks and troughs in supply. Here is a picture of a simulation of supply meeting demand. The year is 2010, so there is actual demand across the top line for 2010. The supply underneath has been modeled from renewable energy sources by Elliston, Diesendorf and MacGill- in order to demonstrate that it could be met using renewable sources only. With wind, this mountain type profile here's the coming and going of wind generation over the seven-day period. The dark-blue here represents solar pv the yellow here is concentrating solar thermal with storage. Blue is the hydro. Which leaves this fellow here, and that's biomass. Moving the windmills apart helps. Energy storage helps. More transmission lines help. In the real world, we certainly do all these things. Wired Magazine- they're like- to get a new trunk line to San Francisco they, like, went the opposite way. They're like, is that far enough away from people? You know, it's longer, and more transmission loss. The insanity of the NIMBY thing! You're not running a high power line through my neighborhood! I'll get electromagnetic radiation! Germany is a nation building transmission lines, and storing energy, and deploying renewables from one end of the country to the other. Despite all this, they burn more and more biomass every year and will miss their 2020 carbon emission target. If we are going to dismantle everything and replace it with something different, let's first make sure that different thing is better. Between 2010 and 2014, Germany switched 7% of their energy supply from nuclear power to renewables, with coal constantly supplying 43% of Germany's energy needs. Because Germany has been paying 28 billion Euro, every year, to subsidize renewable energy- they were able to shut down half of their nuclear power plants without burning more coal. But, Germany still had to burn stuff to replace nuclear. In fact, the single largest energy source in the German renewable portfolio is biomass. This Biomass is called a renewable resource because it's not a fossil fuel, and ultimately comes from plants which can be regrown. However, it is not an environmentally friendly source of power, and it causes air pollution. In 2015, we exported over 5 million tons of wood pellets. That's in about 5 years. So talk about an explosion! They're clear-cutting our wetland forests. We did work to prove that. They're shipping it over to Europe. And they're burning it in power stations. The same forests that we work so hard to protect, the same forests that provide all those benefits. Repeatedly, in developed nations, a similar pattern unfolds. In 2011, California shut down San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station. Those opposed to nuclear power painted a picture of solar and wind replacing it. What ended up filling the gap was the combustion of natural gas. In 2014, the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Station was shut down. It was the fifth-largest source of electricity for New England. It sure looks like the people trying to shut it down thought it would be replaced by renewables. Instead, it was replaced by burning oil and coal. Nuclear plants close, resulting in more combustion, and more pollution. The only beneficiaries were those providing the alternate source of power. In the case of San Onofre, alternate sources of power were provided to California by its parent corporation, Edison International. In the case of Entergy's Vermont Yankee, alternate power was provided to New England by a natural gas power plant owned by Entergy Wholesale Commodities. While a nuclear plant is in operation, the utility pays into a decommissioning fund. This money can not be touched until the plant is ready for retirement. Or, when it is taken into early retirement. The owner of the shuttered Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant have hundreds of millions of dollars stashed away for the decommissioning process. Today federal regulators announced it can also use that money to deal with spent nuclear fuel. Closing Vermont Yankee released $665 million in decommissioning funds to the utility. Closing San Onofre will release over $4 billion. Pilgrim is next. A 690 megawatt reactor, it produces 14% of the electricity generated in Massachusetts. It has a summer capacity factor of 98%, making it a very reliable source of summertime electricity. There's no technical reason to shut down this source of pollution-free energy. However, the decommissioning fund contains $870 million dollars. With me today I have Jigar Shah, who was the president of Generate Capital. He was the founder of SunEdison. I'm not here to suggest that solar power should be powering the world, but I think both nuclear and solar and all these other zero carbon fuels can be scaled up to meet the challenge. I have figured out how to get this right in solar, and how to actually win the war. The nuclear guys haven't. They're just saying- if we just put the facts out people will finally believe us. This is a political battle! And i'm happy to bring my lessons learned from the solar industry to nuclear industry, but I think that this notion- that we have a functioning nuclear power industry, that has the ability to play the game- is fanciful. There is a fairly straightforward way to save all those plants. But the nuclear industry has to actually pursue it. The guys who own Pilgrim aren't even trying to save this. It's everyone who doesn't own Pilgrim in the nuclear industry saying, Oh wouldn't it be nice to save Pilgrim? Most of the people that you hear are not "the nuclear industry they're just people who advocate nuclear technology. And I know that I don't garner many friends within the industry when I say this, but Entergy is perfectly happy to shut down Pilgrim, and so our Entergy's friends because they all perceive that right now there's an oversupply of electricity. They'll shut down their nuclear plants and people go- So how can they do that? And then of course the answer is, all of them have decommissioning funds already put aside. So they'll come out looking fine on their balance sheet, and they'll drive the price of electricity up for all the rest of their generating plants. Given all the wind turbines being deployed, it is not intuitive that shutting down nuclear leads to more pollution and higher energy prices. California's energy crisis was a confusing mess too, when you're stuck in the middle of it. It's called Global Preventive Medicine. The Earth is the patient now and we're all physicians to the patient. We're here to serve. And we can save the world. Close down all those reactors now! With solar and wind and geothermal- forget about all the data and figures and stuff. Listen to your intuition, and you'll know what you've got to do. Dr. Helen Caldicott has been featured by CNN, The New York Times, CBC, Democracy Now, 60 Minutes, and C-Span. When Helen speaks people make contributions large and small to the organization. The last two chapters of this book a very exciting because they give you the prescription for survival! 5, 25, $100,000 to the institute to support Helen and the work that she's doing of ending the nuclear age. I don't say things that are inaccurate otherwise I would be deregistered, I mean, doctors can't lie. The doctors have been told by their superiors not tell patients that their symptoms are related to radiation. This is the biggest medical conspiracy in the history of medicine, George! I don't you could dismiss the UN Scientific Committee as being part of the nuclear industry. I don't think you can dismiss the very large amount of data- Yes I could. -on the... I'm sorry you're saying you would dismiss the UN Scientific Committee as being part of the nuclear industry? Yes, let me tell you George. Wow. Well then the mind boggles. Where does this end? The mind does boggle. The UN, and the Scientific Committee, and the IAEA. I mean who else is involved in this conspiracy? We need to know! I'm testifying at your Darlington hearing soon. What am I gonna say? You're all fools. What do you think you're doing? I mean you will need psychoanalysis. These are all the elements in a reactor. She's testified before multiple government panels on the safety of nuclear power. If we move to renewables in a big way- Yeah. But you would not be able to have the kind of power, um- Yes you would. Well, I don't think- Oh, yes you would. I do think that we would- Yes you would. To smelt aluminum to make aluminum requires huge amounts of energy. We've got to stop using aluminium cans, that's just crazy. And all this frozen food is just obscene too! We shouldn't be freezing food, when I was a kid there was no frozen food we did alright. You know in that winter, it's so hot inside you have to strip! The thermostat should be lowered. How many use paper towels in the kitchen? Yeah, you're allowed to use paper to wipe your bottoms! That's all! I like living the way I live, and I live fairly modestly. We live in a small house, I drive an 18 year old Saturn. Heh. So we're fairly frugal, but I'm still an American. So that means I use vast amounts of resources, no matter how frugal I am. When you're in the plane, the hostess hands you a drink with a bloody bit of tree beside it! I don't need that paper serviette! It just becomes more and more increasingly difficult to cut out the real big things, to be honest with you. As you walk from room to room, turn off your lights! Uh, uh, uh, uh. It's easy to turn off the lights and to turn down the heat and don't use the air-conditioning at all. But then you quickly run into the idea that- Am I not going to fly to that conference? Am I going to ride a bike to, you know, the grocery store? We got to stop!- Do not!- Never!- Never use a!- You don't need a electrical gadgetry! Turn them all off! Every time you walk into one of those doors and goes "pshhhew" in front of you- That's powered by electricity! Cover the place with windmills. It's what we got to do, if we want to keep using electricity! Otherwise, we have to stop using electricity. And think about it, Mozart wrote candlelight and so did Shakespeare, so the human race has lived for a very long time without electricity. We have lived and survived for 3 million years without electricity! Well, what's wrong with candlelight? That's right! That's right! Dr. Helen Caldicott's prescription of a candle-lit future, and how it resonates with her audience, brings to mind a Penn & Teller demonstration, how receptive people can be to fearmongering. Can I get you guys to sign a petition? What for? For banning dihydrogen-monoxide. Oh yeah, I'll sign that. Thank you very much. Our petition woman was getting signatures left and right. We're talking, hundreds. It causes a lot of urination. Vomiting. Can even cause- I'm familiar with it. Oh, ok. That's- Di. Hydrogen. Monoxide. Water. This is a petition for dihydrogen-monoxide. What it is, is it's a chemical that is found now in reservoirs, and in lakes. Pesticides, different kinds of companies are using this. And she's not going to lie, or even stretch the truth. Not at all. She's just going to talk about what water is, and what it does, using the vocabulary and tone of environmental hysteria. Corporations are using it styrofoam companies, nuclear companies. And now, when they use it in pesticides, when we're washing our fruit and things like that, it's not coming out. It causes excessive sweating. Excessive urination. And it's in the grocery stores, and in our baby's food. Stuff like that. We don't know if they thought, but, they signed. If you saw a petition being circulated warning dangers of dihydrogen monoxide, how would you alert the signees to its utter stupidity? Of course, you'd just say- dihydrogen monoxide is water. That would end it, right there. But what if you couldn't say that? This is crazy! You are sitting on top of a nuclear weapon! Because there is no common sense about what nuclear power is or isn't. You can have the word "nuclear There's only decades of fearmongering. Whatever they put this waste in, it's so hot- -will start to disintegrate within 10 years. You could cite some health studies, statements made by experts in the lucrative field of dihydrogen-monoxide... You want us to put water on the crops? Yes. Water? ...but you would be considered suspect. Just a shill for "Big Dihydrogen-monoxide I think this might be Gatorade or something, I was just looking for some regular water. You mean like in the toilet? What for? Just to- to drink. Everyone knows- The safe alternative to dihydrogen-monoxide is Brawndo Energy Drink. Good for your body. Great for growing crops. Today's discussion around nuclear power, is a lot like trying to debunk such a petition... Without using the word, "water". Water. Like, out the toilet? Well, it doesn't have to be out of the toilet, but yeah, that's the idea. People are accustomed to decades of barely competitive nuclear power. Accustomed to the message that nuclear waste is a lurking danger. And people have been convinced that a nuclear accident will kill more people than a single day's worth of fossil fuel air pollution. Solar! Not nuclear! Sponsored by the Oil Heat Institute. Yeah, no problem! Yeah, you don't need a furnace just have solar panels! This is the cynicism of the fossil fuel industry. When I've spoken to women's groups, none of them knew how bad coal was. They didn't know it killed people. If you add up all fossil fuel combustion in the United States- Just from power plants, the find particulates alone killed 13,000 people a year. W.H.O. says only 56 people died at Chernobyl. However! The New York Academy of Science has translated 5,000 papers from Russian! The Chernobyl study by New York Academy of Sciences- A book called Chernobyl by the National Academy of Science- Produced by the New York Academy of Sciences- According to the New York Academy of Science- In no sense did New York Academy of Sciences commission this work; nor by its publication do we intend to independently validate claims made. The translated volume has not been peer-reviewed by the New York Academy of Sciences, or by anyone else. Now, when the National Academy of Sciences put it out there were pro-nuclear people who were very strong, probably sociopaths. They discredited it. George Monbiot once deferred to Caldicott on matters of nuclear power and radiation. After the Fukushima disaster and a discussion with Caldicott on Democracy Now- The biggest medical conspiracy and cover-up in the history of medicine, George! Monbiot wrote: The anti-nuclear movement, to which I once belonged, has mislead the world about the impact of radiation on human health. The claims we made were ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged, and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible dis-service. Helen Caldicott, the world's foremost anti-nuclear campaigner, has made some striking statements about the dangers of radiation. I asked for the sources. Caldicott's response has profoundly shaken me. None were scientific publications. None contained sources for the claims she'd made. Geoge Monbiot published our email exchanges in The Guardian... how dare he? So stupid. That revolting little man said [that] after Fukushima he's become pro-nuclear. He's either get a cerebral tumor or he's had a psychotic breakdown, that's my clinical diagnosis. I've listening to a lot of Caldicott while editing this video. Is he being paid? I do wonder. Something... something fishy is going on. She says not crazy things than I can possibly include, without giving this video an "R" rating. In our town there was at another Unitarian meeting house. Yeah? And it convinced a lot of people in the audience that thorium was a safer alternative. Who presented that? Who? Two people who- From where? Well, they were both connected to the nuclear industry in one way or the other! Of course! Thorium? But they were very convincing. Yeah, they are idiots. These people are mad! Now, let me tell you about thorium. To produce electricity you need to reprocess, like, melt the fuel. Then make the fuel rods with Uranium-233 then put them in the reactor. It is economically totally out of the question, so these men are mad! There's some sort of psychotic element in the nuclear industry... ...it has to do with testosterone and hormone receptors in the brain. Behavior and sex comes into it. All these men operate from their reptilian mid-brains and use their left cortex to justify what their emotions want them to do, and a lot of it's about testosterone and I'm fed up with testosterone! E=mc2 is a substitute probably for male... will I say it? Erection and ejaculation! Um, and they like it, and it's the sort of energy that really grabs them. What you are about to hear is the least crazy SOUNDING thing Dr. Helen Caldicott has ever said. That people living near nuclear reactors are more likely to get leukemia. This is either a scary thing to hear... It causes sweating, urination- ...or a terrifying thing to hear... And it's in the grocery stores and in our baby's foods. ...depending on whether or not you have children. Germany did a classic study of children under the age of five living less than 5 km from sixteen reactors. The incidence of leukemia was more than double normal. That study was then duplicated by the French. So they don't need to do another study! The first one looked at leukemia rates among German children living within 5km of any operating nuclear reactor. Where 17 incidents leukemia would have been expected researchers instead found 37. The second study looked at leukemia rates among French children living within 5km of operating reactors. Where seven cases of leukemia was expected, researchers instead found 14. In both studies childhood leukemia rates very close to reactors are doubled. Also, in both studies, researchers strongly cautioned against assuming the increase in leukemia which from any sort of radioactive plant emission. How is it, the researchers involved in both studies saw a doubling of leukemia rates near the reactors, and then argue against any sort of radioactive plant emission as a cause? Wouldn't anyone like to know? And those two studies are classic studies, they don't need any more studies. QED, it's proven! Both the French and German Studies measured leukemia rates against distance from nuclear power plants. The French study followed the German, and so attempted to address from confounding factors that the German study lacked data for. The French study used 2 geographic models. One was simply distance to the reactor, as the German study had done. The second model incorporated wind direction to more closely model where any emissions from the reactor would be distributed. Excess cases of leukemia disappeared when using the more accurate model, meaning the vast majority of leukemia chases were not downwind from the reactors, as one might expect. This curious finding was then explored further in a third study, which saw elevated leukemia rates where nuclear power plants were planned, but had not yet been constructed. There was not yet any radioactive material on those sites. They don't need any more studies. It's proven! Nuclear power plants may be located close to cities and large population centers, but they're not dropped in the middle of housing units. Most frequently, in Europe and the UK, they're put in the industrial zones of small town. On land previously used for other purposes. The German study's increase in leukemia rates were all clustered where a chemical factory had once operated and later the nuclear power plant had been built. They don't need any more studies. The vast majority of scientific research finds no increase in cancer or leukemia is caused by nuclear power. Note again, that researchers of both the German and French studies caution specifically against presuming that any emission from the nuclear power plants was the cause. So what does Caldicott do? She tells her audience that the reports are evidence of exactly that. We've lived and survived for 3 million years without electricity. We can laugh about her prescription of a candlelit future... We've got to stop- Do not- Never- Never use a- You don't need all this electrical gadgetry- Turn them all off! -television, DVD, ah, uh, uh, uh, uh, electric carving knives, all the flashing lights- But it comes at the end of a terrifying diatribe. These look like thalidomide babies. Remember when pregnant women used to take thalidomide? Between mischaracterizing good science, and regurgitating bad science, and just flat-out making stuff up... This is a nuclear fallout released by the Australian Radiation Service- It's an absolutely wicked, wicked industry which kills people. These people should be tried like the Nazi war criminals were in Nuremberg, and I'm fed up with them! ...it's not until you're scared out of your wits that she suggests- we should switch from a clean source of lighting, to one of the very dirtiest. If a woman who repeatedly tells audiences easily refutable falsehoods... -and there must be a law that people can't lie! People should be sued! Doctors can't lie. We would be deregistered. I would be be deregistered. If I lied about medicine- -I would be deregistered. And they haven't sued me, so I'm right. ...if she can motivate people to protest nuclear power, then anyone can. Use sort of, descriptive terminology that will get Mr. and Mrs. Joe Sixpack sitting at home watching the Simpsons and stuff- You know- Oh, my God... what about my children!? Here's the argument for conventional nuclear power, as heard by Joe sixpack... This mysterious form of energy which brings you feelings of distrust if not outright fear, is in fact very safe. There is nothing to worry about here, the situation is under control. We'll store nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain, even though it is perfectly safe in a dry cask. The waste was moved to cask storage from cooling pool, even though it was perfectly safe in the cooling pool. Fukushima radiation didn't kill a single person, despite everything you've heard. And utilities are shutting down nuclear reactors one after the other for non-safety related issues, despite all the money ratepayers spent to build them in the first place. I think this is an insurmountable communications challenge. There is a logical argument for conventional nuclear power. But it it simply isn't enough to have an argument which makes logical sense. Not any more. Not after 50 years of communications neglect. Up and atom! Up and, at them. Up and atom!! Up and at them! Up! And! Atom!!! Up and at them!! Facts are not persuasive. They're not. The social science about this is really interesting. If you just present somebody with facts that are contradictory to their core beliefs they actually become more beholden to those core beliefs. Murph is bright, but she's been having a little trouble lately. She brought this in to show the other students. It's one of my old text books. It's an old federal textbook we've replaced them with the corrected versions. Corrected? Explaining how the Apollo missions were faked to bankrupt the Soviet Union. Let's say you'd like to land a man on Mars. 6% of Americans think the Moon landings were faked, and another 5% aren't sure. If you wanted to sway those 11% how would you go about doing it? By arguing over shadows in photos of Apollo 11? Or whether a nylon flag was flapping in a breeze? Stanley Kubrick was involved faking the Apollo Moon landings. 2001: A Space Odyssey" was research for the Apollo footage that was shot. This is the biggest medical conspiracy and cover-up in the history of medicine, George! It would be more productive to talk about the existence of ice on Mars. How that ice can be split apart into Oxygen and Hydrogen, and combined with Carbon from the atmosphere, to make rocket fuel. Avoid debating the contentious past which implies an error in judgement. Instead, focus on shared goals, and technological solutions not yet dismissed. Where does advanced nuclear ultimately take us? Is it more appealing than drill-baby-drill? And wind-baby-wind? President Kennedy didn't challenge the nation to launch humans into orbit around the Moon for a flyby. The challenge was, specifically, to land on the moon. That was the difference between Apollo 8 and Apollo 11. In Britain they have the crown jewels, in America we have moon rocks. And as they say it is it is priceless. It is priceless, and the fact we haven't gone back makes it more priceless. First landing was at The Sea of Tranquility, Apollo 11. That was chosen because it's very close to the equator, they thought it was a very safe site. As a Neil Armstrong was approaching the landing site though, he noticed there were boulders everywhere! And I mean- they didn't have maps that showed them that kind of detail, and he had to take over from the computer with very little fuel left. And he really piloted his way down. I mean, it's one of those stories where- You hear stories you go- that was over played for dramatic effect... No! On Apollo 11, the more you learn about what really happened, the more scared you get. You go this guy was in big, big trouble and he pulled it out by sheer ability. He was one of the best pilots the United States had and he proved that day on landing on the Moon. He pulled the rabbit out of the hat. Apollo 11's touchdown was incredibly risky, and the slightest mistake would have resulted in Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stranded on the moon, waiting to die. In 1962, one of these goals must have seemed far less audacious. In terms of driving technology forward, Apollo 8 would have been enough. Two major revolutions made the Saturn 5 possible, and the Moon landing possible. One was the decision to build a really big engine. It was a step-change from what had come before. It's huge. Over 1 million pounds of thrust. Far bigger than anything anyone had comprehended before. The other revolution, liquid hydrogen on the 2nd and 3rd stages. Liquid hydrogen is a very efficient fuel, and it makes the rocket lighter. Now we look at it and it looks huge! It looks giant. But you have to remember, this was actually an extremely lightweight design compared to what could have been. Moving humans safely in and out of lunar orbit drove life support and propulsion research. The computing requirements alone helped kickstart the microchip revolution. This is called the J2 engine and this was the other great breakthrough of the Apollo program, which was to use hydrogen as a rocket propellant. No one had ever done that before. If you could do it the benefit was tremendous fuel efficiency- the downside was you were starting from square one. It's highly- It's highly explosive and it's super cold and it's challenging- All kinds of materials that are fine dealing with kerosene- you take 400 degrees below zero- they don't have a prayer. So they had to come up with all kinds of new materials, new seals, new gaskets new piping, new- Everything was new, to build the J2 rocket. There was a part of Kennedy's speech I've always loved, where he says- We will use new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than ever been experienced. Fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch. Carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival. And then return it safely to Earth. Re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour. Causing heat about half that on the temperature of the Sun. Almost as hot as it is here today. And do all this, and do it right, and do it first! -before this decade is out, then we must be bold! Just grab me a color. A color exterior. Hurry up. Yeah, I'm looking for one. C-368. Anything, quick. I think we missed it. Hey, I got it right here. Let me get it out this one, it's a lot clearer. Apollo 8's lunar fly-by produced Earthrise- the most influential environmental photograph ever taken Apollo 8. An underappreciated Apollo mission. Most people never heard of it. Apollo 8, what's that? Excuse me, that was the first time anybody ever left Earth. There was Earth. Seen, not as the mapmaker would have you identify it. No, the countries were not color coded with boundaries. We went to the Moon, and we discovered Earth. Apollo 8 was enough- to change how we saw ourselves, and spark an interest in science and engineering. Kids wanted to be astronauts long before we touched down on the Moon. So why was the stated goal a risky Apollo 11 moon landing, and not the more attainable Apollo 8 fly-by? Because one could be articulated easily, leveraging the nation's pop-culture understanding of space travel. Apollo 8 was orbital mechanics and delta-vee. Even today, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is explaining the difference between low earth orbit, and honest-to-goodness space. Textbooks, they have to fit the Moon on the same page as the Earth. So you think Moon is much closer than it actually is. Understanding what made Apollo 8 worthwhile was not a part of the culture. Apollo 11, that was stepping out onto an alien world. We got that. We'd read books about it, watched movies about it. You understood the implication the moment you heard it. Atomic Power used to be communicated in such simple visionary terms. It held the public's imagination back when it was explained as a source of energy which would become too cheap to meter, just like a good internet data plan. Despite the routine shutting down of domestic reactors, and the deliberate sabotage of California's energy supply, there is still a pathway to abundant energy. But it can not be achieved by solid-fuel, water cooled reactors. Because the only thing conventional reactors have to offer is electricity. The Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plant. A new generation of energy, to power our homes, and our businesses. Designed to meet the world's growing need for electricity. Many nuclear advocates argue that a mislead public and misdirected regulations have driven up the cost of nuclear power. I don't disagree. But whether nuclear can be a bit cheaper than coal, or will remain perpetually more expensive- that's marginal. Slightly cheaper nuclear power is not a game changer. If CO2 were taxed, or if Westinghouse could lower the cost of each successive AP1000, or if anti-nuclear organizations were effectively called-out on their misinformation, we'd still be stuck in a chicken-and-egg world where utilities lack incentive to saturate the market with clean energy, and energy is too expensive to spark new industry which could otherwise thrive. And it's not disruptive to the existing energy paradigm. And this is a core motivation of the environmental movement, is we don't just want to replace Peter with Paul. There is a romantic vocabulary that goes with renewable energy. Living in harmony with nature. It's safe. It's free. It's democratic. It's localized. It has an overarching narrative to renewable energy dream that's very attractive. We don't just want to replace fossil fuels with nuclear & have the same big centralized power plants, and the same corporations- We want a revolution! We want to change the way the world works! Advocates for nuclear energy need to find that narrative, need to find that dream. You need to have that positive overarching vision that goes beyond simply the technological aspect and saying well, it's safe! You know, it's- it's not that bad! It's not as dangerous as you think it is! Right? It's got to be something more than that. What Molten Salt Reactors offer, is what even cutting-edge water cooled reactors like AP1000 can't. Molten Salt Reactors produce more than just electricity. Molten Salt Reactors can be used in 2 ways. So, they can be used as a form of electricity generation where it is being attached to the grid- And there are no constraints to where you can site it. You don't even need it to be near water which is often a constraint with existing nukes. So you can put it anywhere, really. So, if there's a coal-fired power station that's running down, put your Molten Salt Reactor at that point and there's already the grid you need. You're just swapping out the source of electricity, the grid's already there. And, I think, that's a perfectly viable way for it to go, but I think there's also heat for industrial uses. You might actually see that come forward first, where these reactors are being sited on industrial complexes, to provide heat. Because there are not many sources of low-carbon, cheap heat. We have very high operating temperatures up to 700 degrees. We can make almost that temperature in steam. Traditional nuclear water cooled reactors- they're warm. But, running only 300 degrees Celsius, making steam that that's less than that? They just really have cut off so much of the potential markets. Ammonia, making ammonia, the haber bosch process. Fractional distillation of crude oil. And, catalytic cracking of those hydrocarbons. Those 3 things require temperatures above 450 Celsius. And those 3 industries are worth 2 trillion dollars a year- on this planet. So you have a little reactor as an industrial site and then just run a pipe of the salt. They have their fuel salts and a heat exchanger for clean salts, not radioactive. And you can pipe the clean salt and use the heat directly. It also makes the whole thing cheaper, because you save the turbine, which is expensive. A great deal of the price of electricity will depend on the ability of the reactor to produce co-products. With today's reactors it's difficult to desalinate water. If you desalinate water you take away from the electricity production of the reactor. In these, because they're high temperature, there is a potential there to desalinate water. Put a great big power plant on the coast. Bring in seawater from a couple miles out. Desalinate it. Suddenly you're not even pulling water out of the aquifers anymore! So the river's not touched the lake's not touched, the aquifer's not touched... and anybody see how big the Pacific is, recently? Electricity can be a byproduct of providing industrial process heat. A byproduct of desalinating seawater. A byproduct of reducing the lifespan of nuclear waste, and a byproduct of valuable fission products. This is an energy revolution to be driven by manufacturing, a need for clean water, and the anti-nuclear movement's own fear-mongering over spent fuel rods. Such a future isn't very hard to imagine. Just as Kennedy could easily articulate broad mission parameters for Apollo 11, by saying: "We choose to go to the moon A future of energy abundance is already part of our pop-culture. It is called Star Trek. First airing in 1966, it took the concept of abundant clean energy, and ran with it. The thing I liked about Star Trek was that it gave you hope that there was going to be a positive future. Because it was taking place, you know, 300 years in the future. I mean, at the time there were race riots that were going on in my town of Cleveland. Strife and pollution. And here you had this civilization that was really healthy. It was exciting and they were pretty much at peace. Do you inherently become a better society just because you have access to a more advanced form of energy? I've read some a Gene Roddenberry's writings and some of the other writers and their feelings when they were doing the show. Yeah, they were talking about dilithium crystals and warp drive for the starships, but basically it was a nuclear-powered society. And that's how we were able to become peaceful and live with each other and be able to develop civilization. Miss Nichols, there's someone who wants to meet you, he's a great fan of yours. And I expected to turn around and see some young person, uh, and I turned around into the face of Dr. Martin Luther King, and he said, yes, I'm a big fan of yours. And I said thank you very much, and I'm of course I'm leaving the show after this first year and he said- You cannot! ...And I was taken aback and- Uh, I- I beg your pardon? He said- Don't you know who you are? Don't you know what you have? A character with dignity and beauty and intelligence? He said- Your most important input is for everyone who doesn't look like us, who sees us for the first time as we should be seen. As equals. As equals. In peaceful exploration- Michelle, you cannot leave. Every time mankind has been able to access a new source of energy it has led to profound societal implications. You know, the Industrial Revolution and the ability to use chemical fuels was what finally did in slavery. You know, people- human beings have had slaves for thousands and thousands of years. And when we learned how to make carbon our slave, instead of other human beings, we started to learn how to be able to be civilized people And how to use machines to do what we need, instead of make other people do it. Based on a utopian future of the 60s, this was where some of us were convinced we were headed. Technical realizations we've made since then are pretty simple. Fusion is hard. Fission is easy- it can even happen in nature. Coolant choice is important. Nuclear fuel can be liquid. Aye, the haggis is in the fire for sure. It is hard to create a TV show about space exploration without breaking the rules of physics... the stars are just spaced too far apart. But manned exploration of our own solar system, permanent outposts on the moon and mars, and sending a probe under the ice of Europa, those are all doable with everyday fission of a non-water-cooled variety. Extract the water from the soils of Mars. Separate the hydrogen and oxygen. We now have a supply of rocket fuel on Mars! A filling station. So you don't have to carry all your fuel with you. Back on Earth, Star Trek features high density human population, unspoiled nature, access to ridiculous amounts of energy- And apparently, no resource constraints worth fighting over. Give me a martini, straight-up, with two olives. For the vitamins. Gene Roddenberry had a vision of the future where mankind had overcome many of its problems and desired nothing more than a peaceful quest for knowledge. Must be kind of boring, ain't it? A lot has changed in the past 300 years. We've eliminated hunger, want. Then what's the challenge? The challenge is to improve yourself- to enrich yourself. Is this vision of prosperity and nature as doable as sticking a nuclear reactor on a probe and melting thru ice? I've said this many times before, I want to go ice fishing on Europa. It has had an ocean of liquid water that's been liquid for billions of years. And every place on Earth we find liquid water, we have found life. I want to go ice fishing on Europa. Lower a submersible. So is this doable? Is an ecologically sound Earth compatible with 8 billion people living healthy, dignified lives, chasing their full human potential? Or is this just another fantasy component of Star Trek, like warp drive, and teleportation? We're going to exhaust every option until we finally get clear that actually what matters is making clean energy cheap. So that we can live in a world where we mostly live in cities, we have high intensive agriculture, we've got clean energy, we've got clean water, we got recycling your materials... that's a vision of a world where we can all live modern lives, and it does not- it's not- it does not require any uh- It does not require any science fiction. Human beings have done amazingly well over the last half century. In 1950 there were just 2.5 billion people on Earth. Today there's more than 7 billion of us. Everywhere infant mortality has been going down, and almost everywhere people are living longer lives. Unfortunately, all of our success has come at a high cost to the natural world. The number of wild animals on planet earth has declined by half since 1970. It seems like we're always using nature in some ways, but, human save nature by not using it. It's the part of the Earth that we don't use that we leave to wild nature. Humans use about half of the Earth- half of the land surface of the Earth- The part of the Earth that's not underwater or under glaciers. Of that half, about half of the human impact is meat- or 24% of the Earth's surface. Another 10% is crops. Another 9% or so is for wood production. And this is really amazing, 3% of the Earth's surface we use for cities and suburbs- for the places that we live. And what's important about that, is that now half of all humans three-and-a-half billion of us, live in cities and suburbs- and this is going to prove to be a crucial part of how negative impact will peak and decline in this century. If we take the right actions today, the overall size of the human population, and our overall negative impact on the natural world could peak and decline- not by the end of the century, but within a few decades. Many of you know that whaling was a huge industry in the early 1800s. Mostly we hunted whales for their oil. We used their oil as energy to light up our lamps. Grand Ball given by the whales in honor of the discovery of oil wells in Pennsylvania. We save nature by not using it, we save nature by not needing it. We didn't need the whales anymore, we had a better substitute. It was kerosene, made from abundant and cheap petroleum, and, we didn't save the whales by using whales more sustainably, we didn't save the whales by having more efficient lighting to burn the whale oil more efficiently. We saved the whales by not hunting them. This is New England in 1880. There was only 30% of it forested at that time. Most of the rest was farmland. This is New England today. 80% forested. Martha's Vineyard was really a large sheep farm in 1900. Today, it's mostly forested. The forests are growing back, why? Farms went bankrupt. We mostly didn't need them for their land anymore. We became more efficient at growing more food, we grew more food on less land. We saved all of that nature, allowing the forest to grow back because we didn't need it. Look at this beautiful green forest that surrounds Hong Kong. Hong Kong is only able to save that beautiful nature because it doesn't need it for growing food or for using it for energy. And they've made an incredible city, and people worry, you know, they say- Well, if you go to the city you're alienated from nature, but look! They can walk into nature from Hong Kong. Nature's right there. That sounds nice for Hong Kong, but what about poor countries? What about developing countries? What about all the slums? And- We're talking about industrialization, about factories, where the conditions are terrible and people are treated miserably. That was certainly my view. 20 years ago I was involved in an effort to hold Nike and other corporations accountable for their labor practices in other countries, particularly in Indonesia. It was a successful effort, and Nike did make some improvements, but 20 years later I wanted to go back. I wanted to see what happened to the workers. Had their lives really improved materially? I met this young woman, her name is Supartie. She makes four times more money than the people back in the village, farming rice. We're growing much more food on much smaller amounts of land, it's one of humankind's most extraordinary achievements, with great benefits to the natural world. We use half as much the land, per person globally, to provide our food. It's only possible for Supartie to live in the city, as long as she doesn't need to make her own food, and we're making more food for more of us. In the countryside, when you're a poor farmer you need a lot of kids to you work on the farm, you need a lot of kids to help you in your in retirement. In the city, you can invest more in fewer kids. And that trend is consistent around the world- As women become more powerful, more educated, as they have more income. Her grandmother had 13 children, her mother had 6, and you can see it right here. We don't know what's going to happen next. There's one scenario that we keep going up, and another scenario we go down. The high population estimate, where the world goes to 16 billion or more by the end of the century, is a world of low energy, wood energy, wood, dung and charcoal, and large families, mostly in the countryside. A world where the population peaks at 8.5 billion, and then declines by the end of the century- is a world like Supartie is living. Higher energy, smaller families, more development, and more opportunity. This is Maiyishia. She is one of the 900 remaining mountain gorillas left in the world. She, as a baby, grew up in Africa's oldest national park in Congo, called Virunga. In 2007, her parents and much of the rest of her group were killed- by men making charcoal for energy. Since then, there's been well-meaning efforts to plant trees, to help people in the region burn wood more efficiently, and the situation has only gotten worse. When we visited it in December of last year, this is an aerial photo that we took above the park. You can see here, here, here, and here- illegal charcoal burning in the park. Why? Because people need it. Over 90% of the people depend on wood for fuel. We didn't save the whales by using whales more sustainably, by using whale oil more efficiently, we saved the whales by using a different kind of energy, by using a substitute. Supartie uses propane- what we use as camping fuel, similar to natural gas that we all enjoy; it's an important substitute for the 3 billion people that still depend on wood and dung. As more of us move to the cities, we're going to consume more energy. For everybody to live at a moderate living standard, a basic material-needs-met, the world is going to need to triple, perhaps quadruple the amount of energy it produces from today. Propane is a fossil fuel. What are the clean energy options? There's not many. There's solar, there's wind, there's a little bit of geothermal, there's hydro-electric dams, and there's nuclear power plants. And- Solar and wind are wonderful; I've spent much of my professional career advocating for more solar, for more wind, including a wind farm off the coast of Cape Cod. But solar and wind alone cannot power Shanghai at night, and there's a lot of exciting development in batteries, but we're so far away from being able to power cities on batteries. Geothermal is great where it's available, and it's not available in many places. Hydro-electric dams have mostly been built in the rich world. We've mostly dammed the rivers, and even in places like China, many of the rivers have already been dammed. That means we have to take a second look at nuclear power. When I was boy, my aunt took me every August to Bittersweet Park, where we would remember the Hiroshima bombings. We would light candles, and put them on paper boats. I saw a television movie about the aftermath of nuclear war. I was anti-nuclear my entire life. A million people dying right now, or have died, because of Chernobyl. You know, I found myself quite disappointed in myself. And, honestly quite angry at others who were propagating that myth. More people have died from Chernobyl, than in the black plague. Fear is a really important emotion, but if we allow fear to drive us, we can end up making up decisions that actually put us at greater risk. What's so striking is just to go read the original World Health Organization documents, and read the public health reports. It was a complete shock to me. I mean, I'm reading all the Chernobyl stuff and I'm- I'm- I'm kind of not believing it. Because it was so out of sync with what I had come to believe. The biggest medical conspiracy and coverup in the history of medicine, George! In order to believe that a million people were killed by Chernobyl, which is what Greenpeace and Helen Caldicott, a number of other people claim- You have to believe there was a cover-up of just massive proportions by the World Health Organization, by the United Nations, by literally hundreds of the world's top public health experts. Close down all those reactors, now! With solar and wind and geothermal... ...forget about all of the data and the figures and stuff. Listen to your intuition, and you'll know what you've got to do. And then I confronted this data, and the challenge of meeting global energy and development needs, and also dealing with one of our most serious environmental problems, and I've changed my mind. On top of that rock there must be 500 sea lions on top of that rock right now. This is a nuclear plant in California. You can see here all around it, natural life, sea life exists, because nuclear power is zero-pollution. And- One of the things we've learnt about energy production is that what you want from an environmental perspective, you want the least natural resource in, the least amount of fuel in, the most amount of energy out, and the least amount of pollution and waste. You can't walk alongside a coal plant and not be affected by the smoke. You can with nuclear. How do humans save nature? Moving people out of their dependence on wood and agrarian poverty; Moving away from large families to medium-sized families; Access to the modern energy so that the forests are spared, so that forests can grow back from agriculture; the final step, moving toward small families, universal prosperity, and nuclear energy. Today we leave half of the Earth for nature. Can we leave 75% for nature? We're going to need more lands for cities, but given current trends, higher energy, smaller families, more development, more opportunity, we can drastically reduce how much of the Earth we use for wood, crops, and meat production. Can we do it? I think we can. Why am I so confident? Because we've done it before. Thank you very much. Split, don't emit. Split, don't emit. What you see behind you are real environmentalists. We're not caught in some dogma from 40 years ago, and that's why they place the goal of beating climate change above the goal of building a bunch of solar and wind. Today, the case for nuclear is being made by environmentalists, engineers, scientists and specifically- climatologists. I thought nuclear power was dumb. And I was an anti-nuclear campaigner. I found out that it is a zero-carbon power source. I thought the opposite. I was wrong. I used to be strongly opposed to nuclear power. I was appalled by it. Well, nuclear power was evil. I didn't want to go there. I do have empathy for the people who disagree with me, because I was that person. People who once opposed nuclear power are the ones speaking the loudest, and the clearest. I understand where you're coming from because I went through the same process. You can reach people. And their message is resonating. On opening night, I polled the audience, and I asked the same question after the film. And that was the response. Common sense says... I'm Robert Stone I'm the director of Pandora's Promise. ...explaining the value of nuclear power shouldn't be this easy. If it was, the industry would have done it already. Have you received any funding from the nuclear industry at all? No, absolutely not. But the nuclear industry is not properly incentivised to solve obvious problems like- explaining what fission is to the public- I would be a complete idiot to have ever taken a dime from the nuclear industry or anyone associated with the nuclear industry. It's an industry that's forgotten to sell its product. And no other industry acts that way. You know, there are- There are natural gas ads on TV all year long encouraging me to buy their product. Airlines, you know, show you pictures of people on beaches. Part of the anti-nuclear narrative is the big, bad, nuclear industry- Doctors can't lie. We would be deregistered. I would be deregistered. I would be deregistered. I would be deregistered. And they haven't sued me. And they haven't sued me, so I'm right. -however, in my experience in advocacy and outreach, actually standing up for yourself and being proud of what you do tends to work quite well. -making it clear that nuclear power is a carbon-free Nuclear power is essentially carbon-free energy. -or even addressing people's concerns about fuel rods. For example, nuclear power plants have been paying into a DoE nuclear waste fund for 35 years. Permanently housing nuclear waste was not the responsibility of utilities or the nuclear industry. It was the responsibility of the Department of Energy. Nuclear power plants paid into the waste storage fund, based on how much energy their reactors produced, not how much waste they produced. That's like trying to reduce pollution by paying a head-count carpool tax, instead of a per-gallon gasoline tax. How effective in fighting pollution would a carpool tax be? There's no nuclear industry incentive for addressing the public's fear. No incentive to communicate that solutions even exist. Instead, put nuclear plants into early retirement, and free up the billions locked away in their decommissioning funds. Such perverse incentives have turned an industry once capable of crystal clear communication into the punching-bag of fake environmentalists. Nuclear power produces a substantial amount of global warming gas. Nuclear power produces massive quantities of global warming gas. In fact, a nuclear power plant will produce the same amount of CO2 in-toto, as a gas-fired plant- So you might as well just use gas. Carbon footprint of nuclear is much higher than wind and solar. Everything pales in comparison to nuclear! If the nuclear industry wants to correct misinformation directly, they can do it. Up and atom! Up, and, at them. That is a hundred-million dollar communications challenge- Up and atom! Up and, at them! -for a multi-billion dollar industry. Up! And atom!!! Up and at them!! They haven't sued me. So, I'm right. But they haven't done it- An AP1000 it's called an eggshell reactor in the industry, so it could easily have an accident, it's very dangerous. -and I don't think they're going to do it. There are growing markets for conventional nuclear around the globe, and we are not living in one of them. As everyday middle-class citizens, we can still advance the cause of clean, abundant energy, without the help of the nuclear industry. That's because anti-nuclear propaganda depends on a single, easily discredited message- Safe and sound! -that all nuclear power is the same. Thorium. -reprocess -then make the fuel rods with Uranium-233, put them in the reactor. As if all cars were wood paneled station wagons. There she is! Where? Right here, it's a wagon! Correcting that misconception takes people to a new space- -it convinced a lot of people that thorium Who presented that? -One they haven't yet explored, and where they haven't yet formed a strong opinion. I assumed, like most people, the existing Light Water Reactor was a kind of static technology, and there would be some incremental improvements to it like we improve all kinds of things, but there wouldn't be a fundamental change in the reactor concept itself. And when you present that to somebody who's been anti-nuclear their whole life, they go, huh? And they think. That's why thorium, like, do you know you can power a reactor with thorium? They go what's that? Well, they don't know what it is, but they know it's not uranium and it's not plutonium! It's thorium. Oh, that sounds nice. And, people are generally open to something new and better, rather than- Oh, the thing that you've been hating for so long, it's really not that bad?! I think it's an easier sales pitch. And also, quite frankly, the Light Water Reactor isn't like, a horror show- by any stretch of the imagination. But what we have is something- Molten salt is just so much better. There's nothing taboo about Molten Salt Reactors. People don't realize that water is just a choice- And that Molten Salt is already used, today, in solar energy collecting towers. Anti-nuclear groups, the thing they most- attack most vociferously, if you see the attacks against my film? It's about the fourth-generation stuff. It's like- This is bullshit! It doesn't exist! It's all exaggerated! It's all problems! It's like- They've built- tried this for years, it's always been a disaster. They go after that because it's the most effective deconstruction of all of the things we object to with nuclear power. Helping people identify exactly which component of existing nuclear technology is responsible for their concern, and how we can build something better than what they fear, speaks to everyone's faith in our ability to solve problems. Talking about advanced nuclear is not doing the same thing, and expecting a different result. It is a new approach, driven by people outside the conventional nuclear industry. And we're finding- that it works. We're all part of this movement changing how people perceive nuclear technology- that's redefining what nuclear power can be. I think in a 5 minute conversation, I can open somebody's mind. And talking about next-generation reactors is the way to do it. Some folks can start off simultaneously opposed to nuclear power- and, advocates of thorium energy. This contradiction sorts itself out, the moment they start fact-checking a Caldicott. Thousands of people learn about Molten Salt Reactors every day, in somewhat excruciating levels of technical detail. The PDFs are all public domain. The technical lectures are all free. The molten salt research conducted in our national labs can be piggybacked on by anyone. I started learning myself when I stumbled upon some Google Tech Talks in 2009. Casually, part-time, for the next 2 years of my life- I tried to figure out why Molten Salt Reactors were a dumb idea. Eventually, I realized not only were molten salt reactors a pretty good idea, but nuclear power itself was nothing like I'd imagined. To anyone concerned about the environment, poverty, exploration or just untapped human potential, this stuff is inherently compelling. People are drawn to it, just like every other source of clean energy. Kennedy didn't have to explain what it meant to walk on the moon. You don't have to explain what the promise of abundant clean energy means. Everyone understands this concept. We're just introducing a very real technology, that can actually deliver. I'm a huge advocate of geothermal. Also a long-standing environmentalist- and was very against nuclear until quite recently, when I started to realize all of the renewable energy in the world doesn't even come close to stacking up to our energy demand. Then the final tipping point for me, actually, was the opera singer singing about thorium reactors, and I was like- Wow, these guys care a lot about nuclear energy! There must be something behind that. We could have far more clean energy. We can have next-generation nuclear. Thorium reactors that have no risk of meltdown. The energy department are just committed to regulating existing nuclear. There's next generation nuclear! Thorium reactors! That could be encouraged. And market-based, American solutions that clean the air, reduce emissions, and grow jobs, make us a more secure country. Thorium has the potential to make nuclear energy much safer, and more efficient. I think it's natural to re-examine your beliefs as you age up. Nuclear's the best way to go for energy for the future. You and I are religious fanatics- have been- about nuclear. Nuclear's bad. And we're the ones then who should lead the discussion. I remember the intensity of the nuclear debate, I was on the other side of it... This administration does not support Department of Energy's Advanced Metal Reactor program, and will oppose any efforts to continue the funding for this reactor project. ...but given this challenge we face today? And, given the progress of 4th Generation nuclear? Go for it! No other alternative, zero emissions! We all know there isn't 4 hours of sun here in Michigan every day, and so on those days there's no sun... how am I warming up my pizza? You don't have to explain what the promise of abundant, clean energy means. Everyone understands this concept. We're just introducing a very real technology- that can actually deliver. I'd like to share with you 3 elevator pitches. These have been constructed by me, and not the startups. Everyone shown has been inspired by Alvin Weinberg's work, and the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment. Just as I have been. While they share many features & abilities, each startup's [molten salt] reactor has a very different focus. I want to emphasise the wide range of choices we have in pursuing nuclear power, even within the very specific category of reactors which are: thermal-spectrum, liquid-fuel, and graphite-moderated to sustain fission. In short- the reactor designs advocated by Alvin Weinberg. I'm Richard Weinberg, and I'm the youngest son of Alvin Weinberg. He was one of the early players in a concern for carbon dioxide and global warming. Carbon-dioxide greenhouse effect is caused by the absorption of the carbon-dioxide molecule. That is what I had worked on 50 years ago. I didn't realize how obscure it was at the time, but it was well known that there was this so-called greenhouse effect, and coal was going to generate CO2- Which now is- is a big deal in the world. Well I kept hearing about it when I was 16. Emissions of carbon is threatening the future of our planet and our civilization. We need to find solutions that are going to allow us to meet the energy demands of the growing world population, but do so in a way that doesn't irreparably harm the environment. My name is Hugh MacDiarmid and I'm the Chairman of the Board of Terrestrial Energy. We know that the MSR works in a lab. This was demonstrated very clearly at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for a number of years. But it must work in the environment of private industry where regulations, costs, and commercial considerations drive decisions. Hands up Terrestrial team. Everybody raise your hand so that people will know who to chat with. Including [Dr.] David LeBlanc, who is truly the architect and visionary for our technology. I was a physicist by training, and that often draws one to fusion. I kind of discovered that, hey, this fission stuff, when you really look into it, it's just as good and it's doable. And all roads kept leading back to these Molten Salt Reactors. There's many jurisdictions in the world that would be perhaps more favorable than the US NRC. So Canada isn't completely lock-step with the United States NRC? No, not in any way. We intend to design and license our technology right here in Canada. We intend to build the first demonstration unit in Canada. The NRC is rule-based, so they made the rules around Light Water Reactors, so anything that's not that has to... find a way to fit into those rules, or slowly get them to change the rules. Whereas the Canadian regulator is much more performance-based. The I-MSR design offers a walk-away safe level of assurance. Zero operator intervention even with a total loss of site power. If someone is anti-nuclear, if they're at least rational about it, ask them what's their problem with it? And the Molten-Salt Reactor approach really solves a lot of those issues. The I-MSR has a much smaller and relatively short-lived wasted footprint. It burns its nuclear fuel far more completely, generates power with higher thermodynamic efficiency than solid fuel reactors. Together, this leads to creation of only 1/6th of the long-lived transuranic fuel waste- essentially plutonium- per kilowatt-hour, compared to the nuclear plants we have today. Our goal in our design is making them as simple as possible, reducing the needed R&D and the needed capital- that's the main problem with advanced nuclear power is advanced often means more complicated. Graphite has a limited life in a reactor core, as I'm sure many in the audience know. We're very happy with the high nickel alloys, or even some stainless steels. But proving a 30-60 year timeline will be a challenge to the regulator, investors, etc. The question is: Can the capital value of a sealed and replaceable vessel be recovered over its limited life, at current energy prices? From our estimates the answer is: Yes. It is handsomely recovered, over the 7-year operational life that we estimate for the I-MSR Core Unit. Overnight capital costs comparable to a fossil fuel power plant. Operating costs that are a fraction of conventional nuclear. I-MSR will demonstrate the lowest lifetime cost of energy of any known technology- and by some margin. Uranium consumption per kilowatt-hour will be 1/6th of conventional nuclear. One word that I've said many times to other people changed my whole life, literally, and that one word was thorium- I'm Paul, I'm Vice President of Business Development for Eastern Canada for Terrestrial Energy. -and I'd never heard of thorium before so i went home and did what everybody does, I Googled thorium. It wasn't very long before I was watching YouTube videos of David LeBlanc talking about Molten-Salt Reactors. Thorium is a pretty remarkable fuel source and we may, or may not, use it in our designs- but it's really about the reactor itself, and they can be greatly simplified by going to the use of low-enriched uranium. I guess the expression in Canada or around the world is "shovel-ready". You can't get the hour, the week, the month it takes to explain someone why a reactor is so much better than what we have before. Thorium is sort of the the sales pitch, in a sense, but come for the thorium, and stay for the reactor. Because it really is the reactor that these people that know more about it are trying to get your attention. The liquid fuel gives it the many advantages that many of us in the field love to brag about, to talk about- safety advantages, the reduced cost advantages, the long-lived waste reduction advantages. They were developed to be breeders, to use thorium in a breeding mode. There is enough uranium in the world to last literally thousands of years. Maybe not millions of years compared to breeder designs, but there is enough to go around. Going down this right here what you want to do, is borrow from every conceivable synergy from existing supply chains, and regulation as well. You want to stick to existing script. There are areas where you simply can't, you know, you can't overlap. Because you are, in fact, using entirely different technology. But the first thing is fuel. If you start off with Low-Enriched-Uranium, then you have a supply chain that currently exists globally. So the commercial task is to overlap as much you can with what's going on currently. We want to shift the narrative to an aspirational level. We believe that nuclear energy can realize its potential for safe, sustainable, reliable, and emission-free energy. Public policy has been moving, and will continue to move in only one direction- rewarding carbon-free alternatives, making it tougher for the others. We believe Terrestrial Energy is well placed to benefit from this changing world, and to contribute in a positive way to a brighter energy future He was a child of the depression, remember- The idea of poverty and want was very real to him and he felt, and I think he was right, that cheap energy was a key element toward improving standard of living, you know, including nutrition and everything else that comes with it. Roughly 1 billion people live like the US, and there's about six billion others who wish they could. And they will, as soon as they can afford it. But, on the way, they're going to be able to just barely afford it. Any energy is better than no energy. And the cheapest right now is coal, and if you look at what's built, it is coal. Coal dominates the market by 60-to-80% of all new stuff- not just old stuff, but the new stuff! It's coal. I don't want a world that has 10x as much coal. ThorCon is a collection of people who are primarily retired and primarily comfortable. And I really want to see the poor in the world get the benefits of having some energy. I've gone over to India, worked in the orphanages, makes a big difference. EIA is kinda hoping that maybe coal will dominate a little bit less in the future, but I think honestly that's a hope. It won't change unless we do something to change it. The ramp rate, how much new electricity we need, is extremely severe. In the last 15 years, China installed more new electricity then is existing in all of the US now. India's about to repeat that process. So we need to build out the equivalent of the entire US electrical network every 10 years or so, and you know- Once India's done it's going to be Indonesia and then going to move on someplace else. And that pace is going to continue for 100 years. So the demand, really, is to put out on the order of 100 gigawatts of power, every year. 100 gigawatts of new power, every year. This is a huge, huge market. The size of the whole oil industry today. Look around, say, what- What could supply this kind of energy? Nuclear is the answer. The shipyards already put out that kind of quantity in large ships. So they know how to do that. We can do about 90% of the work in the shipyard. This is an ultra-large crude carrier. One of the world's largest ships was designed and built by the founder of our company. If you look at the world, about 80% of the people live within 500 miles of the ocean or a big river. A perfectly reasonable distance to run a transmission line. This is a 1 gigawatt nuclear island of a power plant, and not the turbines and generators and the cooling towers and the stuff, but the nuclear island. And it's small compared to the boat. It's, like, 1/4 of the steel. We're talking like 500 tonne pieces onto barges, take them to the site, and assemble them like you're plugging together Lego blocks. This boat cost $90 million. So if I can build a 1 gigawatt power plant for anything remotely resembling how much it cost us to build that ship, then we're doing much better than with current technology. We got roughly 1/5th the amount of steel as a coal plant does. For concrete, we've got about 1/3rd the concrete that the coal plant does. Talk about roughly 6-cents a kilowatt-hour for coal, and about 3-cents a kilowatt-hour for ThorCon. Should-cost: If we set up a manufacturing line, how much does it cost putting in the materials, the skills we have to put in, the labor we have to put in? Did-cost: And then what happened when you got in with all the regulations? So, we're going to focus on what it should cost. Regulations come on a country-by-country basis, and it's going to preclude us from certain countries until they come to their senses. The reason that costs a little for that boat, compared to how big it is- You've got a plate to steel on the bottom, you've got ribs going across here. You got robot welders that are welding the ribs to the plate of steel. And you've got one person they're running 5 or 6 different machine simultaneously. We're building the power plants using the same basic technology. Actually, in the same yards. So our power plant basically is a boat dug into the ground, with double hull steel, concrete poured between the steel. Being able to build power plants at 100 gigawatts/year is very much viable. Once we get away from the thick forgings of the reactor vessel that you have with Light Water Reactors. Every 4 years we exchange our cans, because we have a graphite moderated reactor, and so the graphite is going to get neutron damage. We have to replace it. And we do that by having sealed cans that we put on a "Can Ship" we call it- a specially designed ship. The Can Ship will haul those back to a can recycling center. After we've been doing that for a decade or so we're going to have some spent fuel, and that will go to a fuel recycling center. We'll start out with just using simple fluorination and distillation to recover most of the salt. That'll let us recover the salt and the uranium and the thorium. I does not let us recover the transuranics. [In the] Future, we would anticipate making this a secure site and being able to do the transuranics extractions. This is a 1 gigawatt power plant site. You see the Can-Ship here. This little red one is a can. That's the 250 megawatt electric reactor. And then this is a standard turbine generator. We have no objection to Brayton Cycle, but we don't want to wait. We don't want to do something that's even better, but 10 years later. So our goal is driven by- What can you do now? And get started- Get going, because- Anything nuclear, frankly, beats coal. So if we can make the cost, and get in there and get in the market- Then we can fuss about reducing waste in the future. We're able to handle, fairly flexibly, what kind of fuel and salt in the same reactor. We're currently planning on using NaBe. Sodium-fluoride, beryllium-fluoride as our baseline salt, because we can buy it now. FLiBe is a little harder to get by, and we don't want our schedule to be dependent on when we can buy FLiBe. So we've started with MSRE, and we made sacrifices in neutronics performance, somewhat in economic performance, in order to keep the schedule short. Roughly a decade we think we could be in volume production. That kind of schedule seems kind of crazy to people used to the nuclear industry. But I'd point out that Camp Century was built in 2 years. The Nautilus was built in 6 and that was the very first one. Had lots of extra challenges, being a submarine and all. Hanford was built in 2 years. It's by those standards, ours is a rather lax schedule. We're doing this primarily out of wanting to see things improve. It'd be nice to get some money out of it, but that's not the prime motivation by a longshot. Go to India. They're happy, but there's a lot about their life that could be quite a bit more comfortable. Have water that's clean and running. Have heat, or in case of India, air-conditioning when it's 120 degrees outside. These aren't unreasonable things to hope for. And- I don't have to be the one who decides. You know, let's let them decide for themselves what they want. I don't think me or somebody else in the US should be making those decisions for them. All of the uranium in the reactor was separated from the intensely radioactive fission products. I shall never forget my wonderment, as I stood next to the unshielded steel cans containing the uranium- that only a few days earlier had been mixed with millions of curies of radioactivity. We were particularly proud of this, because that tiny chemical plant was large enough to decontaminate the core of a 1 gigawatt molten-salt breeder. You know, in one respect a machine is machine. But I guess anybody who involved in designs of things get sort of emotionally wedded to one thing over another. And I think the molten-salt breeder was probably the one thing that he really had a feeling in his heart for. There's this hot idea about using molten salts. High-temperature is probably easier than high-pressure. That was one of the best decisions I made, I think, despite the fact the project was eventually terminated. But I still think that, well, eventually people will come back to this reactor. So I was born in 1974, which unfortunately, was the same year the Molten-Salt Reactor was shut down. The whole program ended. So I can kind of mark the beginning of my life as the beginning of the end for the Molten Salt Reactor. We're far behind schedule. And we want to power the world with thorium. And want to eliminate so many of the political and social problems that have come about because of our dependence on other energy sources. Really big star exploded. A supernova. And this seded the universe with everything heavier than iron. Now, two of the things that were created- thorium and uranium- kept some of that energy from the supernova explosion stored in their very nuclear structure. And some of this thorium and uranium was incorporated into our planet. Only Thorium-MSR is going to allow us to produce nuclear power without plutonium. There are no other options, to making nuclear power and not making plutonium other than this approach. So this is the classic design for the Molten-Salt Reactor that came out of the Oak Ridge effort in the 1970s. It's what we call a single fluid reactor. It is a complex chemical undertaking in order to turn one of these reactors into a thorium breeder reactor. There had been Oak Ridge studies done on the 2-fluid reactor, and the 2-fluid reactor is fundamentally different in that it separates the fuel, the uranium-233 fuel, in the FLiBe salt from a blanket FLiBe salt carrying thorium-tetrafluoride. The challenge of this 2-fluid reactor design though, is the internal geometry of the reactor. The advantage though, of keeping them separate, is- The simplification that can be realized in the reprocessing step. With the 2-fluid reactor it is a straightforward thing to move the fuel that has been bred in the blanket out of the blanket, and get it back into the core, which is where you want it- You want it in the core salt. Thorium does not have a volatile hexafluoride. You can fluorinate it, and fluorinate it and fluorinate it all you want- and it will not change chemical state. It will stay thorium-tetrafluoride. Uranium, on the other hand, does have a volatile hexafluoride. And this is why many of us feel uranium-thorium fuel cycle is a perfect fit with Molten Salt Reactor. This same trick doesn't work by the way in uranium-plutonium fuels. They both have volatile hexafluorides, and so you can't undergo a separation using the simple technique of fluoride volatility. One of the things we want to do is to couple to a gas turbine. That addresses tritium migration, but it also gives us the potential to radically reduce the form factor all the way down to supercritical-CO2. And in fact, one of the original ideas was- To use a Molten-Salt Reactor to drive open-cycle air gas turbines and power a jet! So this is the crazy idea that kicked off the Molten-Salt Reactor. So there's just a little bit of precedent. This 2-fluid reactor design was also designed to be modular. To bring new nuclear power plants online quickly- they were into Small Modular Reactors before Small Modular Reactors were cool. Liquid fluoride reactors with their low pressure operation are particularly suitable to modular construction. Because one of the hardest things to get around is the large heavy pressure vessel that's required when use Pressurized Water Reactors. Safety is one of the most important reasons to consider, very seriously, Molten-Salt Reactors, and this is because of the clever implementation that was demonstrated in the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment of the freeze plug and the drain tank. This is something that perhaps was not getting enough attention in the early 1970s. Now we know, that if we want to have the public accept nuclear reactor technology, it has got to be very safe- and it's got to be something that is easily explained to people. Now I've explained the safety basis of the Molten Salt Reactor to people many times, and I haven't had anyone who is unable to get it. Frozen plug? That's it. That's it! Flattened pipe. With electrical heat- resistance heat on that one. So you invented the frozen plug then. A small port in the bottom of the reactor, plugged by a frozen plug of salt. If all power was lost, that plug melted, the fuel drained into this train tank, and the difference between the drain tank and the reactor vessel was the reactor vessel was not meant to lose any thermal energy. The only place you wanted to lose thermal energy was to give it up in the primary heat exchanger. The drain tank on the other hand is designed to maximize the rejection of thermal energy to the environment. Three paths. The path we take now which is burning this very, very rare amount of Uranium-235. Or the path that has been investigated by a lot of advanced nuclear programs, the idea of burning in a fast reactor Uranium-238. Or this new-old idea, which is using thorium in a thermal spectrum reactor. We could imagine fueling a Molten Salt Reactor with Low-Enriched Uranium. If we do that, uranium mining and enrichment necessary will be comparable to what we do today in Light Water Reactors. That path was weaponized and it continues to be a concern. Option 2, we can imagine fast-spectrum Molten-Salt Reactors. We would not need any more uranium mining or enrichment. But we're going to have a high inventory. Fuel looks small to a fast neutron. And there are chemical separation issues with fast-spectrum Molten-Salt Reactors that are going to be challenging- It's harder to get plutonium and uranium away from one another in fluoride than it is to get thorium and uranium away from one another. And finally, Option 3, which is obviously the option I favor which is the thorium fuelled, thermal-spectrum Molten Salt Reactor. No uranium mining or enrichment are going to be necessary once we're in steady state. And this option will have the lowest of all the fissile inventories. And that fissile inventory won't be plutonium, it will be Uranium-233. That third path was not weaponized because the unavoidable contamination of Uranium-232, which was realized by Glenn Seaborg in 1944. What we would propose is to use many of the materials that are otherwise going to go to waste- to a fully thorium powered future. In this scenario we put both our plutonium, our HEU, our U-233- all to productive use along with our thorium stockpiles. So I would make the case that if you have to choose your physical currency from one of these three options- The safest and best bet and most efficient is to use Uranium-233 and to choose the thorium option. Our fundamental motivation is that we share the dream that was put forward by Dr. Alvin Weinberg long ago, of a world set free by the use of thorium as an essentially unlimited energy source, and I know it was said earlier that thorium's not a miracle. To me it is a miracle. It's a miracle that there's a material on Earth that has such remarkable energy density, that even worthless dirt is transformed into an energy resource greater than the richest crude oil or anthracite coal or any other resource you can imagine. To me that is- that is truly a miracle. Every time mankind been able to access a new source of energy it has led to profound societal implications. You know, the Industrial Revolution and the ability to use chemical fuels was what finally did in slavery. Human beings had slaves for thousands and thousands of years. When we learned how to make carbon our slave instead of other human beings we started to learn how to be able to be civilized people. I really believe that if we don't have access to affordable and clean energy, we will revert. We will go back to the way humans have been for thousands and thousands of years, which is where the powerful and the rich oppress the masses who live terrible lives trying to provide things for just a few people. We live much better lives today because we have learned how to use carbon. Okay, what about thorium? Thorium has a million times the energy density of a carbon-hydrogen bond. What could that mean for human civilization? Going out thousands- tens of thousands of years into the future? Because we're not going to run out of this stuff. Once we've learned how to use it at this kind of efficiency we will never run out. It is simply to common. The last operational Molten Salt Reactor shut down in the United States in 1969. It ran in a remote location. Research documents were kept in a walk-in closet. For 3 decades, we didn't even know this was an option. Then in 2002, ORNL's Molten Salt documentation is scanned in PDF and accessible to some NASA employees. 2004 Kirk Sorensen delivers CD-ROMs full of Molten Salt research to policy makers, national labs and universities. Dr. Per Peterson at Berkeley receives a copy. 2006 Kirk moves the scanned research onto his website. 2008 Molten Salt Reactor lectures begin at the Googleplex, and are hosted on Google's YouTube channel. 2009 The very first thorium conference is held. Wired Magazine runs a feature story on Thorium. 2010 American Scientist runs a feature on Thorium. International thorium conferences begin. Server logs show Chinese students downloading Molten Salt Reactor PDFs from Kirk's website. 2011 China announces their intention to build a Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor. In the U.S., Flibe Energy is founded. Transatomic Power is founded. 2012 Baroness Bryony Worthington tours ORNL's historic Molten Salt Reactor Experiment, which has never been made open to the public. Kun Chen visits Berkeley California, telling us that 300 Chinese are working full-time on Molten Salt Reactors. 2013 Terrestrial Energy is Founded. 2014 ThorCon is Founded. Moltex is founded. Seaborg Technologies are founded. Copenhagen Atomics are founded. 2015 A flood of technical details and technology assessments released by molten salt startups. India reveals their new facility for molten salt preparation and purification. China announces that now 700 engineers are working on their Molten Salt Reactor program. Bill Gates' TerraPower receives a grant to investigate Molten Salt. 2016 Just as this video is about to be released- Myriam Tonelotto releases a feature length documentary about Molten Salt Reactors called: "Thorium: Nuclear Power Without Risk". Dr. James Hansen tells Rolling Stone magazine that we should develop Molten-Salt Reactors powered by thorium. And Oak Ridge discovers actual film footage of the Molten Salt Reactor itself. Produced in 1969, it was forgotten in storage for over 45 years. It offers up our first and only glimpse of an operating Molten-Salt Reactor. As a communications asset, this is utterly invaluable- and will be fully incorporated into future videos. In 2017 I think just about anything could happen. The Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment was one of the most important, and I must say, brilliant achievements of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. And I hope that after I'm gone, people will look at the dusty books that were written on molten salts and will say- Hey! These guys had a pretty good idea, let's go back to it! Back in the 60s, Alvin Weinberg saw the MSR as a means of addressing energy pollution and our need for clean water. Desalination would turn the Middle East into farmland. Power centers would co-locate energy intensive manufacturing and Small Modular Reactors. Surplus power would be sold to nearby communities. He knew- energy was the ultimate raw material- the more energy you have, the easier it is to recycle, and use virgin materials more efficiently. Given enough power, we can pull carbon right out of the atmosphere or ocean. One day, on our path towards such a future, they'll be talking about putting Molten-Salt Reactor in your home state. It will create manufacturing jobs, and produce electricity for your home. It will charge your electric car- at night. Give me a martini, straight-up, with two olives. For the vitamins. You'll do things with energy that we can't even imagine. And you'll be kept safe by a chemically stable choice of coolant, and gravity powered passive safety systems. I don't know when we'll get to that point. Everyone's design is different. Everyone's path to market- different. I suspect more than one will succeed. Before they do, I want everyone to know what Molten-Salt Reactors are, and why they are. Calls to action! Calls to action! If you're at the age of 15 to 19- Consider becoming a nuclear, chemical, electrical, or mechanical engineer. If you are from the ages of 20 to 25, and not one of the aforementioned majors- Consider going back to school.
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