Affordable Green Power for Canada

Patrick Arnesen, Vancouver BC, June 2009


Proposal

Launch a national program to rapidly deploy affordable green nuclear power. Use it to power Canada and build a multi $B export industry.


What is it?

Technology that once deployed would be cheaper than coal while producing <3% the waste of a conventional nuclear reactor. It can be mass-produced on an assembly line for rapid deployment. The two most promising technologies (in order) are LFTR (Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor) and PBMR (Pebble Bed Modular Reactor).  Fuel would last 1,000 years+. LFTR was proven as early as the 1960s but was not pursued because it could not be used to produce Plutonium for bombs, which during the cold war was a priority. 


Why Do It?

  1. Oil and Gas production will soon peak. Canada needs to lessen its dependence on these fuel sources to maintain its standard of living and competitive economy.
  2. Canada has commitments to lower its C02 output. Nuclear is the most viable way to do that.
  3. Increase the amount of available electricity. Thereby allowing Canada to accommodate an electrified transportation fleet in the upcoming decades, while also powering new industries to compensate for diminishing eco-systems services.
  4. Power the oil-sands projects in Alberta in a cost-effective and more environmentally friendly way.
  5. Create a multi $B export industry to employ thousands of Canadians.
  6. Guarantee future generations a safe and reliable source of power.
  7. Move developing nations off coal and oil, thereby preventing worst-case global warming.
  8. Greener than large-scale solar or wind, once the environmental impact of the infrastructure is factored in.
 

How does LFTR compare to conventional nuclear reactors?

 

Conventional Pressurized Water Reactor (Candu)

LFTR

Massive one-off cathedral-like construction projects. 6-12 years onsite assembly.

Mass production in a factory on a scale similar to commercial airlines. Factory produces 1 100MW reactor/day. 3-6 months onsite-assembly.

250 tons Uranium/year input. Burns <10% nuclear fuel. The rest becomes radiotoxic waste. Waste stays dangerous for up to 25,000 years.

1 ton thorium / year input. Burns 99% nuclear material, very little radiotoxic waste. Waste stays dangerous for at most 500 years.

Boils massive amounts of water, 30% efficient.

Drives air turbine, nearly 50% efficient.

Inherently unstable because of high pressurized water core. Active safety system and huge concrete superstructure needed to ensure safety. Worst case scenario is release of a radioactive cloud.

Inherently stable. Room pressure core in liquid form, if overheats, volume expands, reducing neutron flux, slowing the reaction. Impossible to melt-down, or for an accident to spread nuclear material beyond the site. If material escapes from the core, it quickly cools and forms a solid.

Produces Plutonium - Proliferation danger.

Produces U233, which can be easily blended down and neutralized as a proliferation threat.

 

How Could Export Industry Work?

  1. Canada Engineers & manufactures the reactors.
  2. Canada mines the Thorium and Uranium.
  3. Foreign nations pay an up-front fee and a yearly operating fee for a turn-key solution.
  4. Canadian works assemble the reactor on-site and supply the fuel for the reactor’s lifetime.
  5. When lifetime expires, the reactor and waste materials are returned to Canada for professional reprocessing & disposal.
 

Why do this in Canada?

  1. World renown engineering talent.
  2. Legal and political system amenable to establishing efficient regulatory processes.
  3. Canada's reputation for quality and safety.
  4. Canada has some of the richest deposits of Uranium and Thorium in the world.

To cut costs and speed development, this project can be shared with other thorium-rich nations:
Norway Can Solve the Global Energy Crisis


First Steps

  1. Coordinated & focused engineering efforts to develop the 1st generation design.
  2. Pilot Reactor
  3. Industrial rollout



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