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Flibe Energy

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Flibe Energy
Incorporation
IndustryNuclear power
HeadquartersHuntsville, Alabama
Key people
Kirk F. Sorensen
President and Chief Technologist
Board of Advisers
Websiteflibe-energy.com

Flibe Energy is an American company that intends to design, construct, and operate small modular reactors based on liquid fluoride thorium reactor (acronym LFTR; pronounced lifter) technology.

Corporation[edit | edit source]

Molten FLiBe salt

Flibe Energy was founded on April 6, 2011 by Kirk Sorensen, former NASA aerospace engineer and formerly chief nuclear technologist at Teledyne Brown Engineering, and Kirk Dorius, an intellectual property attorney and mechanical engineer. The name "Flibe" comes from FLiBe, a Fluoride salt of Lithium and Beryllium, used in LFTRs. Flibe Energy Incorporated is registered in the State of Delaware.[1] Their advertising slogan is "LFTR by Flibe Energy, powering the next thousand years"[2] Sorensen noted that "Fukushima marked the death of conventional light-water reactors".[3]

In a February 2011 interview with Kiki Sanford (two months prior to the founding of Flibe Energy) Sorensen estimated that the production cost of a LFTR (i.e. once research and development has finished), would be on the order of $1–2[4] per watt, making it competitive with the construction costs of natural gas plants.[5][unreliable source]

Development[edit | edit source]

  • In 2015, the Electric Power Research Institution (EPRI) partnered with Southern Company to conduct an independent technology assessment of Flibe Energy's LFTR design.[6]
  • In July 2018, the US Department of Energy announced that Flibe Energy had been selected under the Advanced Reactor Development Projects pathway to partner with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to develop the fluorination technique in the chemical processing system of LFTR.[7]
  • Also in 2018, a report by Sandia National Laboratories was published to develop a safeguards model for Molten Salt Reactors in order to better understand the safeguards needed for this type of system. The work performed for the report was "specifically focused on modeling liquid-fueled designs with on-site processing" and cited the LFTR design from Flibe Energy as 'the most mature concept in this category."[8]

Flibe Energy reactor[edit | edit source]

Liquid-Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR)
GenerationGeneration IV reactor
Reactor conceptThorium-232 fueled, graphite moderated, FLiBe molten salt reactor (MSR)
Concept byFlibe Energy
Main parameters of the reactor core
Fuel (fissile material)233U
Fuel stateLiquid (FLiBe molten salt)
Fertile material232Th
Neutron energy spectrumThermal
Primary control methodNegative temperature coefficient
Primary moderatorGraphite
Primary coolantLiquid (FLiBe molten salt)
Reactor usage
Primary useGeneration of electricity

An independent technology assessment coordinated with EPRI and Southern Company represents the most detailed information so far publicly available about Flibe Energy's proposed LFTR design.[6]

Low pressure, high temperature molten salt reactor

  • FLiBe fuel & coolant salt [9]
  • 600 MWth reactor, 250 MWe net electricity output [9]
  • Supercritical CO2 Brayton cycle power conversion system [10]
  • Two fluid reactor, graphite moderated, Hastelloy-N construction [11]
  • Passive nuclear safety features [12]
    • Fail-safe freeze valve and drain tank
    • Negative temperature coefficient - As demonstrated by an accident at MSRE, a "run away" reaction inherently stops far (several hundred °C) below the melting temperature of the structure/pipes/pumps/valves.
    • The fuel being dissolved in FLiBe makes curtailment of fission easy. Any mechanism (including damage) which drains the FLiBe away from the reactor core will leave the (solid) graphite moderator behind, hence the fuel no longer capable of sustaining fission. Even an overheated reactor would remain far (several hundred °C) cooler than the melting temperature of the graphite moderator or reactor chamber.
    • Control rods - also actively actuatable
  • Primary & intermediate salt loop heat exchangers [13]
  • Chemical processing - Move uranium from blanket to fuel salt and remove fission products [14]
  • Off-gas handling for Xe,Kr, tritium [15]

Challenges[edit | edit source]

  • Salts can be corrosive to materials. However Hastelloy-N, was used in the MSRE and proved compatible with the fluoride salts FLiBe and FLiNaK.[16]
  • There had been little innovation in the field for several decades until recent developments by advanced reactor developers. The US Department of Energy has claimed a "new wave of innovation" is here for advanced reactor development.[17]
  • The differences between LFTRs and the light-water reactors in majority use today are vast; the former "is not yet fully understood by regulatory agencies and officials." (note NRC mention above)

In addition, this reactor may require parts different from existing reactors, making them more expensive.

Kirk Sorensen[edit | edit source]

Kirk Sorensen

Flibe Energy co-founder Kirk Sorensen has a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Utah State University, a master's degree in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a master's degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee.[18][19][20] He worked at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center from 2000 to 2010, followed by a year at Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama as Chief Nuclear Technologist until he left to found Flibe Energy in 2011.[21]

He has discussed the potential of thorium and LFTR technology for The Guardian's 2009 Manchester Report on climate change mitigation,[22] Wired (magazine)[23] and the TEDxYYC conference in 2011.[24]

Sorensen was written about in the book SuperFuel[25] and appears in the documentaries Thorium Remix 2011,[26][27] The Thorium Dream[28][29][30] as well as being credited in the upcoming "film about thorium" titled The Good Reactor.[31]

See also[edit | edit source]


Others articles of the Topic Energy : Grange Holdings Power Plant, China Windpower Group, Austrian Gas Grid Management, ReAmped Energy, Afşin-C coal mine, Konakovo Power Station, Afşin-D coal mine
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References[edit | edit source]

  1. Flibe Energy company website
  2. .Energy from Thorium, LFTR Technology by Flibe Energy
  3. "Don't count out nuclear just yet". CNN.
  4. Dr. Robert Hargraves, who is on Flibe Energy's Board of Advisers, lays out a strategy in "Aim High!" (Video: [1] and PDF: [2]) where factory mass production of 100 MW modular LFTR reactors produce one a day at 200 million dollars each. This approach enables incremental capital outlays, affordability to developing nations and truck transport to the plant site.
  5. Dr. Kiki's Science Hour 84: The Nuclear Alternative (note cost discussion starting ~29:20)
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Program on Technology Innovation: Technology Assessment of a Molten Salt Reactor Design - The Liquid-Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR)". EPRI. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 10 March 2016.
  7. "U.S. Department of Energy Provides Nearly $20 Million for Domestic Advanced Nuclear Technology Projects". US Department of Energy.
  8. "Molten Salt Systems for FHRS and MSRS: Chemistry and Mass Transport" (PDF). American Nuclear Society.
  9. 9.0 9.1 EPRI, 2015, 2-1.
  10. EPRI, 2015, 2-2.
  11. EPRI, 2015, 3-8.
  12. EPRI, 2015, 3-30.
  13. EPRI, 2015, 3-9 & 10.
  14. EPRI, 2015, 3-11.
  15. EPRI, 2015, 3-12.
  16. DeVan, Jackson H. "EFFECT OF ALLOYING ADDITIONS ON CORROSION BEHAVIOR OF NICKEL - MOLYBDENUM ALLOYS IN FUSED FLUORIDE MIXTURES." Thesis. University of Tennessee, 1960. Web. <"Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2011-01-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)>.
  17. "New Wave of Innovation Coming to Nuclear Energy". US Department of Energy.
  18. Sorensen, Kirk. "Blogger: User Profile: Kirk Sorensen". Kirk Sorensen. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  19. "Our Company". Flibe Energy. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  20. Sorensen, Kirk. "Thorium Research in the Manhattan Project Era". University of Tennessee. Retrieved 11 March 2015.
  21. Doug Caruso (7 March 2010). "The mighty thorium". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 26 October 2011.
  22. Manchester Report: Thorium nuclear power
  23. Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke
  24. TEDxYYC - Kirk Sorensen - Thorium (Calgary, AB, Canada April 1st, 2011)
  25. SuperFuel: Thorium, the Green Energy Source for the Future at Google Books. ISBN 9780230341913
  26. THORIUM REMIX 2011
  27. Thorium Remix 2011 on IMDb
  28. Motherboard TV: The Thorium Dream (November, 2011)
  29. Thorium: World's greatest energy breakthrough? (CNN.com)
  30. Motherboard TV: The Thorium Dream (YouTube video)
  31. Cast | The Good Reactor

External links[edit | edit source]


This article "Flibe Energy" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Flibe Energy. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.



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