Sunday, 17 December 2017

heat-exchange or household atomics

Via a regular Slashdot contributor, we learn that China will expend a great deal of time and effort researching into the potential revival of a Cold War era source of harnessing nuclear power using molten salt as a coolant rather than water.
The molten salt fission reactors were abandoned in the 1970s due to technical hurdles which today seem like far less of an obstacle and now it seems like an attainable, highly efficient fuel source. The higher melting point of salt allows for the accumulation of a vastly greater reservoir of heat to power turbines and the resulting nuclear waste is calculated to be only a sliver of that of conventional plants. There’s also a great interest in minimisation this sort of reactor for use in powering unmanned aerial vehicles, lift-off modules and eventually passenger aircraft that could circle the Earth multiple times at super-sonic speeds. Salt-based fission is likely safer and the public might be less risk-averse since there is the radioactivity involved is less energetic and an accident, especially for a drone, is more like dropping a hot-water bottle rather than a burning log.