POWER, UNLIMITED POWER: Game changing nuclear molten salt reactor will be cheaper than natural gas.
Natural gas and coal remain the most cost-competitive sources of energy for industrial heat and electric power provision, with natural gas becoming increasingly important. Fossil-fuel dominance will continue as long as there is no alternative dispatchable, reliable, versatile energy source that is more cost-competitive. In North America, Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) power generation is now the preferred new-build power plant because of its low costs, and because of currently low North American natural gas prices, a product of fracking innovations.
IMSR® power plants are far simpler to build and operate than conventional nuclear power plants. They cost less than USD $1 billion, can be built within 4 years with much lower project risk, and can be financed by ordinary means.
ThorCon is designed to bring shipyard quality and productivity to fission power. But ThorCon’s structure is far simpler and much more repetitive than a ship’s. The silo hall employs concrete-filled, steel plate, sandwich walls. This results in a strong, air-tight, ductile building. A 1 GWe ThorCon requires about 18,000 tons of steel for the fission island, all simple flat plate. A properly implemented panel line will be able to produce these blocks using less than 2 man-hours per ton of steel.
Similarly, all the other components will be manufactured on an assembly line and delivered to the site as fully outfitted and pre-tested blocks. Each power module will require a total of 31 blocks. Upon arrival at the site, the blocks will be dropped into place and the wall and roof blocks welded together using the automatic hull welding machines the yards have developed for this purpose. The wall cells will then be filled with concrete. Almost no form work is required.
To make the system work we must have big blocks — blocks that are far larger than can be transported by truck or rail. ThorCon blocks are up to 23 meters wide and 40 meters long. Such blocks can be barged well up most major rivers, including the St. Lawrence and into the Great Lakes.
A 1 GWe ThorCon is so small that the fission island almost fits into two center tanks of the Hellespont Metropolis, and requires one fourth as much steel. This steel requirement is roughly equivalent to a medium size, Suezmax tanker.
The Suezmax can move herself at 15 knots, survive a hurricane, and discharge her cargo in about a day. A good shipyard can profitably build a Suezmax for 60 million dollars.
A big shipyard can turn out 100 of these ships a year. It could easily manufacture 100 one GWe ThorCons per year.