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China to activate molten salt nuclear reactor, but it’s not clear if they have solved its safety problems

China to activate world’s first ‘clean’ nuclear reactor in September

Live Science 23 July 21, Plans include building up to 30 reactors in partnered nations. Chinese government scientists have unveiled plans for a first-of-its-kind, experimental nuclear reactor that does not need water for cooling.

The prototype molten-salt nuclear reactor, which runs on liquid thorium rather than uranium, is expected to be safer than traditional reactors because thorium cools and solidifies quickly when exposed to the air, meaning any potential leak would spill much less radiation into the surrounding environment compared with leaks from traditional reactors. 

The prototype reactor is expected to be completed next month, with the first tests beginning as early as September………………..

The molten-salt reactor concept was first devised back in 1946 as part of a plan by the predecessor to the U.S. Air Force to create a nuclear-powered supersonic jet. 

However, the experiment ran into too many problems, such as corrosion caused by the hot salt and the cracking of pipes, and the project was abandoned in 1954. Since then, several groups have tried to make viable molten-salt reactors, including an experimental reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, but the weak radioactivity of thorium makes it very difficult for fission reactions to build up to sustainable levels without adding uranium. 

It is not yet clear how Chinese researchers have solved these technical problems……..

July 24, 2021 - Posted by | China, safety, technology

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