Oil Price Trend Estimates There is approximately 1.4 trillion barrels of recoverable oil left in the crust of the earth Current consumption is 32 billion barrels per year (44 years of oil left) US current oil imports amount to 10Mbbls/day or $365B/yr US Navy uses 100,000 bbls/day (spent $11B last year on fuel) Most likely
Energy Returned on Energy Invested When oil was originally discovered, it took (1) barrel of oil to find, extract, and process (100) barrels of oil Today the ratio is (3) barrels gained for (1) barrel used, in U.S. and (10) for (1) in Saudi Arabia Nuclear Power EREI is 10:1 (10:1) (7:1) (5:1) (1:1)
SECNAV’s Energy Goals / Technologies / Practices when awarding contracts, consider the lifetime energy cost of the system during the acquisition process by 2012, create a "Green Strike Group" composed of nuclear vessels and ships powered by biofuels and deploying that fleet by 2016 by 2015, reduce petroleum use in its 50,000 commercial vehicle fleet by 50% by phasing in hybrid fuel and electric vehicles produce at least 50% the shore-based energy requirements from renewable sources such as solar, wind and ocean generated on base by 2020, ensure at least 40% of the Navy's total energy consumption comes from alternative sources. Algea based biofuel Hybrid Electric Drive Advanced battery technology Higher efficiency PV panels Conservation ? Broader use of Nuclear Power
Nuclear Power in US Navy Virginia-class submarinesFord-class carriersBainbridge destroyerVirginia-class cruisersTruxtun destroyerall submarine classes Enterprise carrier Maintenance and personnel costs drove move away from nuclear power within surface fleet
Expended Nuclear Fleet? Current Russian Kirov-class Battle Cruiser is nuclear powered but plagued by high costs Russian interest in Arctic operations leading to re-look at nuclear power for surface vessels In 2007 HASC called for a re-evaluation of nuclear power for surface Navy US Navy Report on Alternative Propulsion Methods for Surface Ships March 2007 – Med Surface Combatant break even point $115-225/bbls for nuclear power Nuclear power for surface ships would encompass the Gerald Ford A1B reactor powering a gas turbine but… Overall, traditional Uranium fuel cycle approach might be too expensive and complex – better way?
6600 tonnes of thorium (500quads) (cost 1/100 th that of Uranium) 5.3 billion tonnes of coal (128 quads) 31.1 billion barrels of oil (180 quads) 2.92 trillion m 3 of natural gas (105 quads) 65,000 tonnes of uranium ore (24 quads) 2007 World Energy Consumption Energy from Thorium
Thorium, huh? Earth's interior is fueled by the decaying of radioactive isotopes like Potassium 40, Uranium 238, 235, and Thorium 232 (80%) contained within the mantle The flow of molten iron in the earth’s core produces the magnetic field that shields the earth’s atmosphere from neutron, gamma ray and ultraviolet bombardment from the sun
Today’s Uranium Fuel Cycle vs. Thorium mission: make 1000 MW of electricity for one year 250 t of natural uranium containing 1.75 t U-235 35 t of enriched uranium (1.15 t U-235) 215 t of depleted uranium containing 0.6 t U-235—disposal plans uncertain. Uranium-235 content is “burned” out of the fuel; some plutonium is formed and burned 35 t of spent fuel stored on-site until disposal at Yucca Mountain. It contains: 33.4 t uranium-238 0.3 t uranium-235 0.3 t plutonium 1.0 t fission products. One tonne of natural thorium Thorium introduced into blanket of fluoride reactor; completely converted to uranium-233 and “burned”. One tonne of fission products; no uranium, plutonium, or other actinides. Within 10 years, 83% of fission products are stable and can be partitioned and sold. The remaining 17% fission products go to geologic isolation for ~300 years.
Chemical separator Fertile Th-232 blanket Fissile U-233 core Fission products out New U-233 fuel Th-232 in n n Heat Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor Proven in the 1960s at Oak Ridge National Lab Major advantages: atmospheric pressure operation and very high outlet temp (850 deg C)
Typical Pressurized-Water Reactor Containment This structure is steel-lined reinforced concrete, designed to withstand the overpressure expected if all the primary coolant were released in an accident. Sprays and cooling systems (such as the ice condenser) are available for washing released radioactivity out of the containment atmosphere and for cooling the internal atmosphere, thereby keeping the pressure below the containment design pressure. The basic purpose of the containment system, including its spray and cooling functions, is to minimize the amount of released radioactivity that escapes to the external environment.
An amazing safety feature—the freeze plug In the event of TOTAL loss of power, the freeze plug melts and the core salt drains into a passively cooled configuration where nuclear fission is impossible. The reactor is equipped with a “freeze plug”—an open line where a frozen plug of salt is blocking the flow. The plug is kept frozen by an external cooling fan. Freeze Plug Drain Tank
Summary US Navy (and our country) needs to look for better sources of energy Thorium presents an attractive alternative to traditional means …and a threat to traditional thinking and rice bowls Warrants further study for Naval applications and electric power generation for the country