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New Reactor Design to Get Us Off Hydrocarbons

Back in 2012, I saw the writing on the wall. Hydrocarbons were going to kill us all, but the key to everything remains energy. The only viable solution I saw at the time was a molten salt nuclear reactor design from Kirk Sorensen called LFTR. It dissolves the nuclear fuel into molten fluoride salts to burn up all the fuel. It doesn't explode, you can't proliferate bomb material, carbon-free, and the fuel is everywhere. It creates so much energy you can desalinate water for free.

I was hyped. We could save the environment, give energy to everybody to stop the arms race, and transition to exploring outer space. I even lobbied the Nevada Committee on High-Level Radioactive Waste to use the fund already established to deal with nuclear waste to make a prototype LFTR that would eat existing nuclear waste and then use the waste heat to desalinate the copious briny ground water around Las Vegas. We could solve the nuclear waste problem, the energy problem, the environment problem, and the water problem all in one fell swoop. It was ingenious.

Of course, it fell on deaf ears. It even took me several years to understand just how deeply oil had poured into Life-Itself. Energy is the key to everything. It's why white supremacy exists, to extract the energy out of humans in the out-group. But I couldn't articulate it at the time. It was only a feeling.

Last I heard about LFTR was that it went into the military, and there was no solution to the corrosion problem. The latest design was just copy-pasting a second crucible and swap the salt fuel back and forth. Not very elegant or cost effective.

However, YESTERDAY I learned about another company with the same idea, Elysium. It's the same principle as the LFTR, but it uses a chloride salt instead of a fluoride salt. The advantage is that, while fluoride salts are exotic and have no existing regulations, there are already materials rated by the government to handle chloride salts. The Elysium reactor doesn't run on thorium, but rather it uses existing nuclear waste chucked into a Japanese process to convert it into liquid fuel.

Even if we magically solve the white supremacy problem in the USA, we still have to face climate change. Though I am not adverse to it, I don't think we can get there solely on renewable energy. We still have to deal with the existing nuclear waste. There are many ways to do a thing, and just because we started with the stupidest way of doing things (light water reactors) doesn't mean it's the only way to do it, or that it's not worth doing. 


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