I’m trying to find out how much funding molten salt reactors have had, especially thorium. Kirk Sorenson claims there has been very little since the late 1960’s, and I’m just trying to confirm that there are no other MSR experiments or programs in other countries until the recent Chinese program started.
It all seems to start with the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program, which only received $10 million (in 1946 money). I love how insane this idea was: so straight out of Buck Rogers! But it lead to the development of the MSR (2.5 MW) for nuclear aircraft. Once ICBM’s arrived, there was no need and they dumped it as the bad idea it was.
But just as submarine nukes were beached for civilian electricity, so to these MSR’s could be scaled up to pump out abundant clean electricity.
So Oak Ridge then ran the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment which researched in the 1960’s, and actually went critical from 1965 to 1969. This 7.5 MW (thermal) reactor. The only source I have for it now says “I came up with a cost estimate of $4.18 million. The proposal was accepted, although by the time the design had been detailed the cost estimate had doubled.”
So the Nuclear Aircraft was $10 million in 1946 money, and if we round up the Oak Ridge MSR to double $4.18 and round it up to $10 million, it’s still nothing to the $300 million or $400 million ANNUAL budget that fast breeder reactors received in the from around 1974 to 1984. Just glancing at the graph, that’s about $4 billion into fast breeders. HG McPherson says he only wanted $350 million over 11 years to run a full scaled MSR pilot plant, but that just demonstrates the simplicity of the MSR concept.
It also cost $130 million to decommission due to issues in the way the fuel was stored. Future MSR’s have included these findings to make future fuel processing and decommissioning far easier and cheaper.
But since this program, funding has been virtually zero according to Kirk Sorenson’s Google Tech talk.