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The Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor has the Security, Economic Efficiency, and
Environmental Cleanliness to Supply the Worlds Energy Needs; Solar Photovoltaic, Solar
Central Receiver or Concentrated Solar Systems Could Potentially Augment It

Daniel A. Nelson


This paper explores the environmental and economic trade-offs of the available electricity

producing medium. After review, it appears that the The Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor (MSR)

has the security, economic efficiency, and environmental cleanliness to supply the worlds

energy needs.

It also appears that solar photovoltaic, solar central receiver or concentrated solar systems could

potentially augment the electricity produced by the molten salt nuclear reactor in regions with

ideal conditions.

Im helping Terrestrial Energy build a uranium burning, molten salt reactor, because
its a real reactor, built by real scientists and real engineers that will produce real
power and will solve many of todays real problems.

John Kutsch, VP of Business Development for Terrestrial Energy

I have a favorite molten salt reactor. My reactor is free. It's in the sky, 93 million miles
away. You can store its energy in molten salt. It is being done today. You can generate
electricity for 24 hours a day. So the impermanency problem has been solved.

Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research

Keywords: molten salt nuclear reactor, solar photovoltaic, solar central receiver, concentrated

solar systems, wind turbine, natural gas turbine, energy production, electricity production,

environmental impact, environmental trade-offs


The Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor has the Security, Economic Efficiency, and
Environmental Cleanliness to Supply the Worlds Energy Needs; Solar Photovoltaic, Solar
Central Receiver, or Concentrated Solar Systems Could Potentially Augment It

In Earth Science Biology class at College of Lake County Illinois, the Professor, a retired

scientist, explained trade-offs to the class. He started one of his lectures by saying that

everything has a trade-off, in other words, every benefit has a cost. It was explained that the

trade-offs that have come from energy production are a cost to the environment, in air, water,

underground water, and soil pollution. (Schmidt, L 2014)

The Professor taught in a pragmatic way. His assertion was that there is still plenty of

oil, natural-gas, and coal available on Earth, but that the environmental cost of getting to it is

high and has been increasing: Because drilling has to go deeper and farther horizontally into the

Earths mantle to reach fossil fuel resources. More than half of Americas oil is now being

extracted from sand, 90% of our natural gas is being extracted from horizontal fracking; and coal

ash contains toxic heavy metals. And tons of it, from hundreds of years of coal burning, is

spilling into American rivers. He went on to say; But this is what we have to do unless an

adequate alternative is found. (2014)

A review of todays lectures and literature on the environmental trade-offs of the choices

in energy production was made to either support or refute the professors claims. If the

Professors claims were found to be supported, this would provide a motivation to search for an

adequate alternative.


The Environmental Trade-Offs of Oil

Two examples of the environmental trade-offs of current oil extraction are:

The first example is the destruction of the boreal forests, and the vast amounts of water

and natural gas that is used for the extraction process of oil from sand. An expanding area,

currently the size of Florida, in Northern Alberta Canada is now toxic, along with hundreds of

billions of gallons of once pristine water, above and below ground. Environmentalists claim that

this area, and the contaminated water, will likely remain toxic for thousands of years. In 2008,

ducks were filmed dying thousands at a time, while landing in the toxic lakes that span for miles

throughout the area. The outcry from this video being seen by the public caused a veil of secrecy

to be put up around the site, and new video or pictures of it are difficult to find. A spike in rare

cancer rates has also been noted amongst the indigenous Cree Indians, who were the original

owners of the land. (Thompson, N, Radford, T 2011)

In the extraction process, natural-gas is burned underground, over hundreds of square

miles, for seven years or more, in order to get the sand hot enough to separate the oil, and then

fresh water is pumped under extreme pressure to extract the oil. As the oil level drops; more and

more water is needed to extract it. The oil companies can use all the water they need, because

they are not charged for it.

Estimates claim that America now receives 54% of its oil this way, more than it receives

from Saudi Arabia. (National Wildlife Federation 2016; 2016; Thompson, N,

Radford, T 2011)

The second example of the environmental trade-offs of current oil extraction is the 4

million barrels of oil, (168 million gallons) that leaked into the Gulf of Mexico when the

Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico exploded. (NOAA Educational

Resources 2016) It was explained by one scientist spoken to, that drilling from the Horizon went

so deep and so far horizontally, that the leak is still flowing and will likely never be fully sealed.

The Environmental Trade-Offs of Coal

Build coal fired power plants to keep people warm and turn the lights on for billions of

people in China and India and particulate matter changes the weather patterns over Americas

West; this is an apparent intensifier of Californias drought. ( 2016) Burning

coal (and oil) also pumps carbon into the atmosphere, which is absorbed by the oceans, turning

them acidic; this in turn erodes everything made of calcium, and is now a serious concern of

scientists worldwide. This erosion of calcium has been observed to soften the shells of the sea

creatures and diminish the coral reefs of the world, and has the potential to destroy the food

chain at its base. This in turn would likely starve everything else, eventually affecting the human

race in a negative way. ( PMEL Carbon Program 2016)

As read in a paid-for report from the Heritage Institute; the carbon left in the atmosphere

allegedly changes weather patterns globally. And apparently; although the Earth is still on the

cool side of normal globally, temperature shifts are becoming more extreme in major geographic

areas; causing devastation to crops.

In 2008, a dam made of earth broke, spilling 1.1 billion gallons of coal ash slurry into the

Emory River in Tennessee. A passage taken from the Physicians for Social Responsibility

explains the toxicity of coal ash: Coal ash the waste material left after coal is burned

contains arsenic, mercury, lead, and over a dozen other heavy metals, many of them toxic. And

disposal of the growing mounds of coal ash is creating grave risks to human health. (2016)

This is only one of three major spills in the U.S., the latest spilling 39,000 tons of ash into

the Dan River in North Carolina in 2014. ( 2015)

The Environmental Trade-Offs of Natural-Gas

Author Gregory Zuckerman, speaking at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International

Affairs, stated that 90% of Natural Gas extraction in the United States utilizes hydraulic fracking,

and that methane migration into the water tables, caused by fracking, is a concern, but is

manageable. He also stated that the sensational videos of people lighting explosive natural-gas

from the faucets in their sinks, is a natural phenomenon that has occurred for hundreds of years,

in various regions in the United States, and that there are three towns in America named Burning

Springs for this reason. (Zuckerman, G 2014)

Zuckerman also states that: the (undisclosed to the public) chemicals used in fracking

could eventually rise from extraction points to the water table, but that it is unlikely. Tremors do

happen, but arent severe. Fracking can be done properly, but often isnt. And that the casing

surrounding methane wells have to be re-done or remediated from time to time to keep them

from leaking. This is a concern. (2014) Who will remediate the wells when theyre no longer

producing and turning a profit?

The Environmental Trade-Offs of Wind Turbines

Put up wind turbines to create power and birds get killed by blade strikes. The American

Bird Conservancy claims 600,000 bird strikes in 2012 and projects numbers into the millions as

more wind turbines are built. Some estimates discovered are lower, claiming around 375,000

bird strikes per year. There were no articles discovered claiming that bird strikes do not happen.

(American Bird Conservancy 2016)

In addition to the cost in wildlife, new natural gas turbine power plants have to be built

along every new run of wind turbines to manage load-based economics. Load-based

economics explains that you cant ramp up and wind down a large power plant fast enough to

manage the wind surges and lulls that happen. The only kind of turbine that can be throttled up

and down fast enough to keep power up when there is no wind, and throttled down when the

wind picks up, is a natural gas turbine. So with every new tract of wind turbines built, the

amount of constant power coming out of the main plant is dropped further and further to keep

overloads from happening. (Wind Wise Massachusetts 2011)

The power thats not coming from the main plant then comes from natural gas powered

plants. These kinds of plants were never meant to run 24 hours a day, but now they do.

According to Wind Wise:

The newer natural gas turbines called Combined Cycle Gas Turbines (CCGT) are about

60% efficient. This is about twice as efficient as the older Open Cycle Gas Turbines

(OCGT). But when CCGTs are used to balance the fluctuating wind energy, they are

forced to run as OCGTs cutting efficiency in half. (Wind Wise Massachusetts 2011)

With every new tract of wind turbines built, a State now spends millions of dollars a year

more than it had to before on each new natural gas turbine operation and fuel, which pollutes the

air with heat and nitrous oxide. In Illinois, its nuclear power is still running, but has to produce

less power than it used to, in order to maintain load-based-economics. The rest now comes from

nitrous oxide emitting, natural gas plants. If this is not inefficient and a waste of resources, an

adequate explanation as to how it is not, has not yet been discovered.

Here is a quote from National Geographic dot com that sums up wind turbines:

Some people think wind turbines are ugly and complain about the noise the machines

make. The slowly rotating blades can also kill birds and bats, but not nearly as many as

cars, power lines, and high-rise buildings do. The wind is also variable: If it's not

blowing, there's no electricity generated. (Society, N. G. 2016)

Would you want to look at one from your living room window every day? Could you

sell your house if a track of them went up next it? How do you feel about wind turbine tracks

requiring the use of natural-gas turbines to support them?

The Environmental Trade-Offs of Solar Photovoltaic and Central Receiver

The manufacture of solar panels in China is toxic. The BBC reports that 500 people

protested at the Zhejiang Jinko Solar company because of dead fish in the river. (2016) Students

in International Business Class at Depaul, from Zhejiang; that this author has talked with, have

said that they get sick from air pollution when they go home.

Solar Facts and Advice dot com explains that the films in solar panels that generate

electricity are made of cadmium telluride. Cadmium telluride is toxic if eaten, inhaled or

handled without gloves. The author who wrote the article for Solar Facts and Advice also writes

that mining web-sites he has read, state that telluride and tellurium supplies have reached their

maximum output. (2016)


Thousands of rare birds are flying into solar panels and are being incinerated, possibly

many more than strike wind turbine blades.

J. Upton, in his article; Solar Farms Threaten Birds - Certain avian species seem to crash

into large solar power arrays or get burned by the concentrated rays, written for Scientific

American dot com and Climate Central, explains the Lake-Effect.

Much of the problem appears to lie in the lake effect, in which birds and their insect

prey can mistake a reflective solar facility for a water body, or spot water ponds at the

site, then hone in on it. Because of the power of the lake effect, the federal investigators

described such solar farms as mega-traps in their report. (2014)

The article also explains that a 550 MW facility in Southern California takes up 4,400

acres. 4,400 acres is 6.9 square miles. ( Upton, J., & Central, C. 2014)

In comparison, a 600 MW uranium burning, molten salt nuclear reactor will take up 1/3 the

space of a light water reactor or a fossil fuel burner; about the size of small factory building.

(LeBlanc, D 2015)

What will happen to the millions of toxic solar panels when they wear out? If the supply

of cadmium telluride panels increases exponentially to meet worldwide demand, how much more

toxic will the increased manufacturing be? How much more avian death will occur as solar

panels begin to cover tens or hundreds of thousands of acres?

The economy of solar photovoltaic power also came into question. Warren Buffet, in a

letter to his investors, stressed that the only reason solar photovoltaic power is profitable is

because of government subsidies. Anshuman Sahoo, in a lecture he gave on The Rapidly


Changing Economy of Photovoltaic, confirmed this. Even so, Elon Musk and Warren Buffet

have invested billions of dollars into solar. (Lacey, S 2016; Sahoo, A 2016)

Sahoo explains the cost competiveness of solar PV in three parts:

1. Upfront capital costs

2. Periodic operating costs

3. Applicable tax rules

The upfront capital costs of solar PV are much higher than those of fossil fuels; however

the periodic operating costs are lower. The tax factor and subsidies are then the deciding factors

as to whether or not solar is cost competitive. (Sahoo, A 2016)

Lectures and literature suggest that solar photovoltaic panel developers have recently

improved photovoltaic efficiency. But the panels arent the only issue or even the primary issue

when dealing with solar photovoltaic power, electrical storage is. An article written by Joshua

A. Krisch Jan 21, 2014 for Popular Mechanics dot com has a paragraph that sums up this


While engineers build cheaper and more efficient solar panels to soak up more of the

sun's rays, it's storage that needs a breakthrough so that solar energy can be used when

the sun's not shining. Batteries, at least those we have today, just aren't cutting it. "We

need to find a way to store massive amounts of electrical energy," says Michael Aziz, a

professor of energy technologies at Harvard University. "That's the single biggest

obstacle to getting a large fraction of our electricity from solar power."

(Krisch, J. A. 2015)

Mr. Krischs article also sheds some light on Dr. Arjun Makhijani claim, stated farther

down in this paper, that molten salts are being used to store solar heat, and that this has solved

the solar photovoltaic impermanency problem. ( 2016)

Other methods of storing solar power for a rainy day involve converting the sun's

energy into heat, which is then captured in thermal storage tanks. Abengoa, a renewable

energy firm based in Spain, has already built several solar plants that store excess

energy in molten salt, which can absorb extremely high temperatures without changing

state. Abengoa recently secured yet another contract to build a salt-based 110 mega-watt

solar storage plant in Chile, which should be able to store 17 hours of energy in

reserve. (Krisch, J. A. 2015)

This sounds promising and warrants further study.

A Better Solution?

After examination of the lectures and literature on todays energy choices, information

suggesting that the molten salt reactors benefit in energy output is greater than its environmental

trade-offs was discovered.

The Molten Salt Reactor, according to John Kutsch, Kirk Sorensen, Stephen Boyd, David

Leblanc, and Richard Martin, is apparently an emission free, nonexplosive (zero pressure),

nuclear power that produces a fraction of the waste of the old designs, and is proliferation

resistant. The molten salt reactor is apparently also capable of producing an enormous amount of

electrical power, with almost no use of water resources.


The Environmental Trade-Offs of the Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor

The original Molten Salt Reactor Experiment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory was shut

down in 1969, and the radioactive fluoride salts were left to sit in drain tanks till 1997. After 28

years, the Department of Energy was forced to study the feasibility of re-melting the salts in

order to partition the uranium from the salts or leaving them in solid form. A question arose as

to whether or not salts that had been sitting that long could be re-melted safely. If the uranium

salt mixture was still stable and could be melted, then a process called fluorination could be

performed on the molten salts. Fluorination uses a fluorine gas to achieve a chemical separation

of the uranium from the salts. This appeared to be the preferred option. Options also existed of

hydroflourination and electrorefining. These options required further study to be deemed

feasible. (National Research Council, 1997 P. 45-53)

On page 83, the National Research Council Panel determined that long term storage of

the recovered material was the best option. Radiation produced fluorine gas was a worry, but the

panel determined that in the absence of water, the salts could be stored safely.

From the lecture videos, the inherent safety of the Molten Salt Reactor appears to come

from two primary factors of operation. First, the MSR runs at atmospheric pressure, therefore it

is not explosive. And second, the molten salts used for fueling and cooling are held together by

ionic bonds and not chemical bonds, so they remain salts while being exposed to great

temperatures and neutrons. According to David LeBlanc, CTO of Terrestrial Energy in Canada,

this means that there are nearly no chemical reactions inside the reactor; creating elements such

has hydrogen, which can cause problems. This, and the heat transfer properties of molten salts,

makes them ideal for cooling and fueling a reactor. (Boyd, Dr. S 2015; Sorensen 2, K 2014;

LeBlanc, D 2015; Kutsch 2, J 2015)

Stephen Boyd, John Kutsch, Kirk Sorenson and David LeBlanc, all experts on the Molten

Salt Reactor, unanimously state in their lectures, that the Molten Salt reactor is proliferation

resistant. Proliferation resistance means that the MSR isnt effective at making nuclear weapons.

Although proliferation is not impossible, Stephen Boyd states that he thinks the use of the

radioactive molten salts could be monitored and metered, to the point of making its theft and

misuse close to impossible. (Boyd, Dr. S 2015)

Dr. Boyd also explains that the molten salt reactors industrial use benefit can be more

lucrative and environmentally beneficial than from producing electrical power alone. His lecture

explains that the 700 degree Celsius temperature that the MSR runs at is perfect for producing

ammonia, cracking petroleum products, and making cement. Sorensen points out that this

temperature is also perfect for desalinating water.

Because the heat used in industrial production would no longer come from burning fossil

fuels, and the production of electricity would also no longer come from burning fossil fuels, CO2

emissions would drop worldwide by more than 60%.

The economy of having a reliable, cost stable, heat source in industrial production would

be worth trillions of dollars in reduced fuel cost and reduced waste and emissions management.

(Boyd, Dr. S 2015; Sorensen 2, K 2014)


David LeBlanc, in his lecture to the Thorium Energy Alliance TEAC7 conference,

explains that the Molten Salt Reactor is ideal for burning up Transuranic Waste into useful

energy. Transuranic is defined as any element having a higher number than Uranium, which is

92. (LeBlanc, D 2015) Transuranic waste is defined by the Nuclear Regulatory Commissions

glossary as: Material contaminated with transuranic elementsartificially made, radioactive

elements, such as neptunium, plutonium, americium, and othersthat have atomic numbers

higher than uranium in the periodic table of elements.

LeBlanc also explained that engineering will have to be developed to deal with:

Online fission product removal - small amounts of plutonium will develop

Tritium control - a radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can pass through metal

walls; difficult but manageable

Reactive temperature coefficients - are negative, which is a good thing

Use of highly enriched uranium - eliminated in the final IMSR400 design

Off gas handling - understood and manageable

Nobel metal plate out in exchangers - an engineering challenge

Long term corrosion or radiation damage - an engineering challenge

Graphite replacement options - understood and manageable

The Molten Salt Burner Reactor, Terrestrial Energy in Canada is developing, is claimed

to burn 1/6th as much nuclear fuel as current reactor designs, and generate 1/9th the waste.

Multiplying 1/6 x 1/9, the IMSR400 is expected to produce 1.85% the waste of current designs.

One reactor core in the IMSR400s life cycle will have to be disposed of every 13 years.

After seven years, the old core will go offline and the fuel will be pumped to the new core. The

old core will then remain in its housing to cool down for six more years. The old core will be

used to store removed graphite that has to be replaced from the plants operation, as well as the

materials inherent to the core that were not recycled to the new core. A reactor core is about the

size of one semi-trailer for a 300 MW design, to two semi-trailers, side by side, in size for a 600

MW design. (LeBlanc, D 2015; Irish, S 2015)

Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy in Canada, presented the concept of The Energy

Trilemma in his speech on the economics of his companys product, the Integral Molten Salt

Reactor 400. The Energy Trilemma asks the question; does the Integral Molten Salt Reactor

provide the security, economy, and environmental cleanliness to provide the worlds energy

needs? According to Irish, the economic justification for the Molten Salt Reactor stems from the

growing demands of six billion people wanting to achieve the Western middle-class life style.

And that goal can no longer come from the energy sources that the Western world used; because

those sources are too environmentally destructive and dwindling in supply. (2015)

Irish claims in his speech, that Small Modular Reactors, which include the Molten Salt

Reactor, can be built at the same cost as fossil fuel burning plants, but once made, will be

cheaper to run, because nuclear fuel isnt subject to the same commodity market fluctuations as

Gas, Oil, and Coal. He also claims that these plants will be cleaner and safer to operate than

fossil fuel burning plants. (2015)

A Brief History of the Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor

In 1968, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, Alvin Weinberg, the creator of

our current nuclear technology; the light water nuclear reactor, created an apparently safe, clean,

proliferation resistant, method of producing electricity, with his teams development of the

Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor. (Hoglund, B 2016; Sorensen 2, K 2014) This technology, if

utilized worldwide, would apparently; reduce carbon emissions by 60% or more, could not

explode as light water reactors have done, and would produce an estimated 1.85% the waste of

the current light water reactor technology. (Irish, S 2015; Kutsch 2, J 2015; LeBlanc, D 2015)

Yet this technology was eliminated by President Richard Nixon, and ignored by President

Ford and Carter. Nixon killed the original Oak Ridge National Laboratory MSRE (Molten Salt

Reactor Experiment), because Nixon mandated jobs to go to California, where the Light Water

Nuclear Reactor was being developed, and not Tennessee, where the MSRE was running. The

actual conversation he had with the first director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can be

heard at source. (Sorensen 2, K 2014; que to 20:00) More detail as to Ford and Carters

decisions can be found at source (Sorensen 1, K 2011), although Carters and Fords actual

reasons for ignoring the technology can only speculated.

A decade after the first MSR was shut down in 1972; Alvin Weinbergs research was

accidently re-discovered by Kirk Sorenson in a closet at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, about

to be thrown out by janitor. Kirk Sorenson saved this material and had NASA digitize it. Since

then, China and Canada have been franticly developing this technology. (Kutsch 2, J 2015;

Sorensen 1, K 2011; Sorensen 2, K 2014) China is in the lead and planning to run a two

megawatt test in 2018 and a fully functional system by 2025. (Kutsch 1, J 2015) Terrestrial

Energy in Canada and ThorCon are both developing at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in

Tennessee. Both companies plan to have Molten Salt Reactor prototypes working by 2020.

Canadas Uranium Burning Integral Molten Salt Reactor appears to be significantly further along

in development than ThorCons fully modular Thorium MSR. ThorCon is a startup company

with eight members as of this writing. (World Nuclear Association 2016; LeBlanc, D 2015;

Thorcon Power 2016)

The Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor vs. Solar Photovoltaic and Central Receiver

The only dissenting opinion to the molten salt reactor being the most effective energy

producing medium available with the fewest trade-offs found, came from a proponent of solar.

Dr. Arjun Makhijani, president of The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research,

debated Richard Martin, author of the book "SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for

the Future," on National Public Radios show; Science Friday with Ira Flatow. (2016) Thorium

is one of the two most likely fuel sources for the molten salt reactor, the other being 2-4% grade

unenriched uranium. (LeBlanc, D 2015)

Makhijanis arguments were that the Molten Salt Reactor could be less proliferation

resistant than claimed and possibly produce more waste than claimed. These arguments were

rebutted by Martin, and Martins rebuttals are nearly verbatim to the information obtained from

the resources reviewed.

An interesting claim made by Makhijani was that the use of molten salt has been

developed to help solve the impermanency problem of storing solar generated heat. This claim

was supported in an article by Joshua A. Krisch about solar heat power in Chile and warrants

further study. (Krisch, J. A. 2015) Makhijanis final claim is that it is solar power that we

should be pursuing and not the molten salt reactor, and that America should be following

Germanys energy producing example. ( 2016)


John Kutsch and Eric Sorenson, both proponents of the molten salt nuclear reactor, main

arguments against solar, are that solar isnt capable of producing enough power to meet electrical

power demands across varying environments, worldwide. John Kutsch also expressed concern

about the environmental cost of solar panels being manufactured in China. And even proponents

of solar, like Anshuman Sahoo; admit that the solar photovoltaic economy is supported by

government subsidies. (Sahoo, A 2016)

In researching Makhijanis claim that Germanys energy producing example should be

pursued by the U.S., the following information was discovered: According to the U.S. Energy

Information Administration: 55% of Germanys energy comes from fossil fuel, 15% come from

nuclear, and 31% come from wind and solar. That adds up to 101%. According to the Solar

Energy Industries Association, 7% of the 31% of Germanys alternative energy comes from solar

photovoltaic. That leaves 24% to wind turbine power which, in America, uses natural-gas

turbines to maintain electrical load. This could imply that more fossil fuels are being used in

Germany than stated. And according to the MIT Technology Review and the World Nuclear

Association, Germanys decreased use of nuclear reactors, from 17 down to 8 has caused an

increase in carbon emissions and a substantial increase in energy costs. Also, there are articles

explaining Germanys growing intolerance to ugly wind turbines and the complete economic

failure of Germanys solar photovoltaic program. Makhijanis claims would seem to be less than


However, explains that Indias Chinese manufactured, solar photovoltaic

module imports are expanding dramatically and that Indias solar photovoltaic usage is growing

exponentially. Perhaps this supports the hypothesis that the effectiveness of solar photovoltaic

varies by region? Also; claims that solar heat, central receiver power in Chile, collected with

molten salts, seemingly has promise.

(U.S. Energy Information Administration 2016; Solar Energy Industries Association 2016;

World Nuclear Association 2 2016; 2016; Krisch, J. A. 2015; 2016)

The Conclusions of Peer Reviewed Studies on Photovoltaic Solar, Central Receiver Solar

and Ivanpahs Concentrating Solar

Calculating data from the paper; Environmental, technical and financial feasibility study

of solar power plants by RET Screen, according to the targeting of energy subsidies in Iran;

based on the papers costs projected for a 12 kW solar photovoltaic power plant. A 600 MW

solar photovoltaic power plant, which would be equivalent in electricity output to Terrestrial

Energys largest molten salt nuclear reactor construct, would have an estimated initial cost of 5.5

billion dollars, and estimated operation and maintenance costs of $20,400 annually (in Iran), and

a 10.8% annual cost inflation rate. The plant would have a projected lifespan of 20 years. In all

three of the papers projected scenarios, the cost of electricity was projected at 17.5 Cents per

kWh. Comparatively, Simon Irish of Terrestrial Energy claims a cost $40 to $50 per MWh,

which calculates to 4 to 5 cents per kWh for their IMSR400 molten salt nuclear reactor.

(Mirzahosseini, A. H., & Taheri, T. 2012 P. 2809; Irish, S 2015)

A study done by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) claims solar panels

can retain 88% of their original capacity after 25 years. This calculation uses the mean

degradation rate of solar panels of .5% per year. For this reason, long term warranties for solar

photovoltaic panels are usually written for 25 years. (Jordan, D. C., & Kurtz, S. R. 2013 P. 22)

This potentially explains the 20 year projected lifespan for a solar plant in the harsh

desert environment of Iran, as the projected panel degradation in this environment is likely

higher than the mean.

The conclusion of the study; Greenhouse-gas emissions from solar electric- and nuclear

power: A life-cycle study, is that traditionally nuclear has had an advantage in Greenhouse-gas

emission reduction over solar. However solar and nuclear are projected to be equivalent in

reducing Greenhouse-gas emissions in the future. (Fthenakis, V. M., & Kim, H. C. 2007 P.


The Evaluation of the potential of central receiver solar power plants: Configuration,

optimization and trends, explains solar heated, molten salt power plants closely equivalent in

their scale to the molten salt nuclear reactors being developed by Terrestrial Energy in Canada.

The solar central receiver plants studied were 290 to 500 MW in scale, and those being

developed by Terrestrial are 300 to 600 MW in scale. (Avila-Marin, A. L., Fernandez-Reche, J.,

& Tellez, F. M. 2013 P. 287; LeBlanc, David 2015)

Late in this review, official specification on Californias Ivanpah CSP system was

discovered and added here. Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station is the largest solar thermal

tower system in the world. Ivanpah is a concentrating solar power (CSP) system, and not a

central receiver system, as it does not use molten salt storage to maintain heat when the sun is

down. It is located on the California Side of the Nevada border, just off of US 15, in America.

Ivanpah consists of a total of three units; Ivanpah 1 has a total capacity of 126 MW, Ivanpah 2

and 3 are both 133 MW each, for a total production of 392 MW. Its mirror field spans 3,500

acres. (Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System 2016)


Official specification on the plant from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory lists

the Ivanpahs concentrating solar system at 28.72% annual solar-to-electricity efficiency as of 9-

9-2016, and the plant utilizes a natural gas backup system. Surprisingly, the article; Exegetic

analysis and economic evaluation of central tower receiver solar thermal power plant, shows

that this efficiency is high compared to an average of 24.15% to 25.08%, and their highest

recorded efficiency of 26.10% to 27.10% at the Jodhpur Solar Plant near Nandia Kalan village in

Rajasthan. Calculating Indian rupee to U.S. dollar, electricity costs for Jodhpur are claimed at 8

cents per kWh. (Reddy, V. S., Kaushik, S. C., & Tyagi, S. K. 2014)

Would adding a molten salt storage system eliminate the need for a natural gas backup at

Ivanpah? Would a molten salt storage system increase the systems efficiency?

J. Uptons article in Scientific American and Climate Central cites official U.S.

government studies on the avian death caused by large scale solar fields in California and Utah.

This would imply that Ivanpah was very likely one of the solar killing fields being described.

Cost per kWh for either central receiver solar power plants or Ivanpahs concentrating

solar power plant could not be found in peer reviewed studies or in official government

resources. Outside of scholarly works, the cost per kWh of large scale central receiver solar

plants is estimated at 12 to 15 cents per kWh and projected to eventually fall to around 5 cents

per kWh. Most of the discovered peer reviewed data on central receiver solar power dates back

to the 1980s.

The Conclusions of Peer Reviewed Studies on the Molten Salt Nuclear Reactor

The molten salt reactor (MSR) in generation IV: Overview and perspectives,

concludes: Molten salt fluorides as coolants offer interesting features such as chemical

inertia, very good transport properties, strong irradiation resistance, high thermal

stability and boiling points. They share some advantages with liquid metal coolants like

reactor operation at low pressure. This constitutes a significant safety and cost


(Serp, J., Allibert, M., Bene, O., Delpech, S., Feynberg, O., Ghetta, V., Heuer, D., ...

Zhimin, D. 2014 P. 317)

The risks for the molten salt reactor they conclude are:

~risks of corrosion by the impurities (oxygen, water mainly) dissolved into a molten salt

coolant or by the fission products present in fuel salt are a significant issue in MSRs that

has been the subject of R&D work since the 1950s. (Serp, J., Allibert, M., Bene, O.,

Delpech, S., Feynberg, O., Ghetta, V., Heuer, D., ... Zhimin, D. 2014 P. 317)

Recommendations for a restart of molten salt reactor development, projected the costs

of producing power from the molten salt reactor in the late 1970s at 3.8 cents per kWh. The

materials expected to be used in its construction were nickel alloy and carbon composites with

graphite moderation. David LeBlanc of Terrestrial Energy mentioned using similar building

materials. (Moir, R. W. P. 1856-1857; LeBlanc, D 2015)


Moirs conclusion stated:

The MSR has so many favorable features, many discussed here, that one is at a loss to

explain why the reactor has not already been developed. (Moir, R. W. P. 1856-1857)


China and Canada are investing the resources to definitively find out if the molten salt

nuclear reactor is markedly better in environmental cleanliness, economic efficiency, and safety;

and as manageable in security, as the current power producing medium, and it appears they will

both know by the mid 2020s.

During review of the literature on todays energy producing choices, consistent

information was discovered supporting the claim that extracting and burning oil, coal, and

natural gas, have trade-offs that come from damage to the environment, in the form of; soil,

water, underground water, and air pollution.

Proponents of the use of alternative power generating medium, support this assertion to

various degrees, enough so, that the assertion of environmental harm coming from the use and

extraction of fossil fuels is considered by many to be commonly accepted knowledge.

Accepting that environmental harm does in fact come from the extraction and burning of

fossil fuels, and that these environmental trade-offs are increasing in severity, the use of fossil

fuels will be excluded from the selection of possible future energy producing medium.

Also during the review, it was discovered that the use of wind turbine power increases the

use of natural-gas, as every track of wind turbines requires a natural-gas turbine power plant to

run twenty-four hours a day, in order to maintain electrical load balance. Because wind turbine

use increases natural-gas consumption and because their operation has seemingly significant

environmental trade-offs of their own, wind turbines will also be excluded from the selection of

possible future energy producing medium.

The two remaining energy producing options are solar power and the molten salt nuclear

reactor. After review, it appears that the molten salt nuclear reactor is the most efficient power

generating medium with the fewest environmental trade offs. Although solar power may be an

effective augmentation to the molten salt nuclear reactor power in regions with ideal conditions.

If you build a 600 MW uranium burning, molten salt nuclear reactor in the Arctic Circle

or the Sahara desert, you produce 600 MW of power and have 1 core of waste every to dispose

of every 13 years; a core that is about the size of two semi-trailers side by side. The materials

used in the manufacture of the reactor arent inherently toxic. The environment around a reactor;

the air, soil and water, are all left remarkably clean, especially when compared to other types of

power plants. It is likely the environment surrounding the MSR reactor will be pristine. Its

important to remember that the MSR is NOT the light water nuclear reactor the public is used to.

The molten salt nuclear reactor doesnt use the water resources of current designs, and any off-

gassing will be cleaned before leaving the plant.

If you build a 600 MW solar photovoltaic, central receiver or concentrated solar power

plant in the Arctic Circle or the Sahara desert, you will produce however much power

environmental conditions will allow, often much less than 600 MW. The Sahara may seem a

better choice than the arctic, until you consider sand storms covering the panels or destroying

them. Different regions will wear out panels at different times. The manufacture of solar

photovoltaic panels and the cadmium telluride in the panels film is toxic and the panels will

eventually be discarded; millions of them. The environment surrounding a solar panel farm is

harsh; with thousands of acres of panels that will prevent anything from growing. Also, the

scientific community has become aware of the Lake Effect; where vast numbers of birds and

insects dive into solar panels thinking they are a body of water, and are incinerated.

However, there may be new technologies that make solar power more efficient and

potentially less hazardous, and countries like India claim solar is working for them. Also; new

information that solar central receiver power in Chile, collected with molten salts, shows

promise. For this reason, solar will be kept in consideration for future energy producing


There are no research studies to compare the molten salt nuclear reactor with an

equivalent molten salt solar central receiver system, because the molten salt nuclear reactor is

still under development. So an actual side by side comparison of the two mediums power

output/cost per megawatt, safety and security, and generated waste/environmental harm, can only

be done be done virtually, based on the best data experts can provide. An actual side-by-side

comparison of a molten salt nuclear reactor with a molten salt solar central receiver system

would certainly be scientifically beneficial and would likely be one more, small step for man and

one more giant leap for mankind.

After review, it seems the human race has a viable, tenable, energy option with the

molten salt nuclear reactor. And that the molten salt nuclear reactor could possibly be

augmented by solar in regions with ideal conditions.

It is also concluded that due to the increasing environmental harm caused by our current

energy producing medium, failure is not an option.


Individual Resources

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5. Boyd, Dr. Stephen. G. (2015) High-Temperature Chemistry with Molten Salt Reactors.
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Dr. Stephen Boyd, (Salt Chemist) PHD and CEO of Havelide Inc. 118 Division Avenue,
Blue Point, NY 11715; explains that more money can be made using an MSRs heat
exchangers in chemical processes, such as: The Haber-Bosh process for ammonia
production, Catalytic Cracking for hydrocarbon chains and Fractional Distillation for all
petroleum based products, than for making power. These are 2 Trillion dollar a year
industries and as much as 50% of these industries costs are for maintaining heat. This
heat is currently produced by burning emission heavy, fossil fuels. Dr. Boyd also alludes
to his confidence that MSR tech is highly proliferation resistant and that molten salt use
is trackable.

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7. Hoglund, Bruce.

a. The Development Status of Molten Salt Breeder Reactors, (1972) Oak Ridge National
Laboratory, Downloaded 2016


National Laboratory, Downloaded 2016


FUELS* Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Downloaded 2016


DEVELOPED BY THE USA (2010) Downloaded 2016

A source for dozens of PDF articles on the original molten salt reactor built at Oak Ridge
National Laboratory, as well as some current information.

8. Idaho National Laboratory. (2007) [Idaho Falls, Idaho]: Molten salt reactor (MSR).
Retrieved from Carli - I Share 2016
A widely accepted basic MSR design schematic

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A computer model of the basic IMSR400 design.

10. IMSR 2. H. (2016). IMSR Life Cycle. Retrieved 2016, from
A computer model of the IMSR400 refuel and core disposal.

11. Irish, Simon. G. (2015) Value of Molten Salt Design in SMR Innovation. Retrieved 2016,
Simon Irish, CEO of Terrestrial Energy explains the value of our current supply of
above ground fuel, and the other economic values of the efficiency and safety of using
liquid fuel as opposed to solid fuel. His conclusions are that the MSR will beat coal and
oil in both cost and convenience.

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Official Government Resource

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Thorium Energy Alliance, my Depaul Professional Advisor and Mentor. Interview 7-16-
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John Kutsch and Jim Kennedy of the Thorium Energy Alliance are good acquaintances of
mine. Ive been a member of the Alliance since 2013. Their website is an invaluable
source of information.
I joined the Thorium Energy Alliance in late 2013 while researching Thorium and MSR
design for Earth Science Class at College of Lake County, IL. I have been acquainted
with John Kutsch since then, and he has become a mentor and a friend, as well as a
priceless source of information on MSR technology, Thorium, and Rare Earths.
Mr. Kutsch is working with Terrestrial Energy Canada in developing a Practical,
Unenriched Uranium Fueled, Molten Salt, Burner Reactor.

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Dr. David LeBlanc, CTO and President of Terrestrial Energy, speaking to The Thorium
Energy Alliance at conference number seven; explaining history, design safety and the
cost and operational benefits of the uranium burning IMSR400.

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the removal and disposition of molten salt reactor experimental fluoride salts
/Washington, D.C. (1997): National Academy Press, Retrieved from Carli - I Share 2016
Verbatim Summary of Material:
Evaluation of the U.S. Department of Energy's alternatives for the removal and
disposition of molten salt reactor experimental fluoride salts / Molten Salt Panel of the
Committee on Remediation of Buried and Tank Wastes, Board on Radioactive Waste
I purchased this book. It should be fascinating to see what concerns the DOE had about
molten salt disposal 10 years before Kirk Sorenson and the Thorium Energy Alliance
began their quests for the development of the Molten Salt Reactor.

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Official Government Resource
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Information on ocean acidification from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce
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Read in an earnest attempt to find arguments against the MSR, I ended up discovering
well researched reasons for it.

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Siemer describes an: isobreeding version of the molten salt fast thorium breeder
reactor (MSFR) recently developed by the European Union's EVOL program This is a
different design than the Uranium burning, IMSR 400 being designed by Terrestrial
Using Uranium in the first of the Gen IV reactors solves the initial problems caused by
cost and politics. Once MSRs get up and running, Thorium will be the ideal, long-term

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revolution and end America's energy odyssey Savage, Md.: Bartleby Press, Purchased

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Verbatim from web site: Wind Wise Massachusetts is a statewide alliance of grass
roots organizations and individuals who are concerned about the negative health,
environmental and economic impacts of poorly-sited wind turbines.
Their website corroborates what was explained to me about wind turbines needing natural
gas turbine backups.

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