The ultimate goal of the Shanghai Institute: to build a molten-salt reactor that could replace the 1970s-era technology in today's nuclear power plants and help wean China off the coal that fouls the air of Shanghai and Beijing, ushering in an era of cheap, abundant, zero-carbon energy.
And the way to break that link was the thorium molten-salt reactor.
The second, the Molten-Salt Reactor
Experiment, ran between 1965 and 1969 and validated many of the principles of the fluoride reactor concept.
In fact, when the first molten-salt reactor began operation at Oak Ridge in 1954, it was called the Aircraft Reactor Experiment.
A molten-salt reactor was loaded onto an aircraft and operated on the aircraft, but was never used to power the aircraft.
Researchers at Oak Ridge first demonstrated a molten-salt reactor in the 1960s, and they have tested various designs over the past several decades.
A handful of other startups, including Transatomic Power, are working to commercialize molten-salt reactors as well.
Dewan's name for the technology: the Waste-Annihilating Molten-Salt Reactor.
Dewan and a fellow graduate student, Mark Massie, designed an alternative based on molten-salt reactors that were originally proposed in the 1950s as a way to power aircraft.
The Chinese have identified molten-salt reactors
as a high development priority and are planning to start up a small prototype device within two years.
The reader may disagree with some of the proposed countermeasures to protect America against lean times ahead, such as fostering the undeveloped nuclear technology of thorium molten-salt reactors
, or going to war with Iran in order to put China on the defensive (given how America's wars tend to consume its limited resources, from tax dollars to human lives, this latter tactic is especially questionable from a strategic perspective, let alone an ethical/moral perspective), but the underlying warning--that today's era of peace and prosperity is ending simply due to the inescapable laws of supply of demand--needs to be heeded immediately.
For years nuclear scientists have talked about a revival of molten-salt reactors
, which are powered by a liquid fuel rather than solid fuel rods, as a way to help spark the long-awaited "nuclear renaissance.