ThorCon is a complete system of power generation modules, interchange maintenance, and liquid fuel service that produces energy cheaper than coal. Principal engineer Jack Devanney led a four-year “skunkworks” project that has created a new kind of nuclear power plant, integrating proven technologies with breakthrough approaches to manufacturing and licensing. Production can start by 2020.
Former MIT professor Devanney’s background in shipbuilding created respect for low-cost, high-precision, block-unit manufacturing at Korean shipyards. He saw how such prefabricated blocks could enable production of enough nuclear power plants to make a global difference, a hundred a year.
Author Robert Hargraves writes that selling so many power plants requires clear, simple economics, cheaper than coal. Coal is today’s energy choice of developing nations, now planning to build over 1400 gigawatt-size coal power plants to enable their economic development.
Hargraves says “Yes, at 3 cents/kWh the ThorCon electricity will be cheaper than gas. But for most of the world coal will be the fuel of choice for electric generation, unless we can provide a cheaper alternative.”
Lawrence Livermore Lab veteran nuclear scientist Ralph Moir says that today’s nuclear power industry is wedded to expensive solid-fuel nuclear reactors, even though the simplicity of liquid fuels was demonstrated at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Moir and Devanney modernized that design for mass production. ThorCon uses uranium and thorium fuel dissolved in molten salt to create a power plant that makes electricity cheaper than coal.
Stanford engineering alums Chris Uhlik and Lars Jorgensen contributed to the design of passive safety functions that operate without mechanical or electronic controls, even with no power. The reactor is 30 meters underground. Overheating drains the fuel salt from the reactor. There are four barriers between the fuel salt and the atmosphere. ThorCon is walk-away safe.
Martingale is designing ThorCon in the US while targeting its first installations in forward-looking countries that support technology-neutral nuclear regulations and see the benefits of the license-by-test process. ThorCon opens up a practically limitless supply of low-cost, reliable, carbon-free power by 2020.