Broadcast 4164 Dr. Ajay Kothari

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Guest:  Dr. Ajay Kothari; Topics:  Thorium and the TMSR for grid power and in-space power.  Dr. Kothari does a deep dive into thorium molten salt reactors.

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We welcomed back Dr. Ajay Kothari to the show for a deep dive into the need for and use of the TMSR (thorium molten salt reactor).  Ajay made a detailed presentation talk a short time ago at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC.  That talk's Power Point and the link to the YouTube video of his talk with the Q&A from the audience is on the blog for this show.  As with other recent Space Show archives, I will repeat the tags below as they do a great job in summarizing the topics discussed and for the most part in the order discussed.  The tags just hit on the topics.  Be sure to listen to Ajay's discussion for the detail behind the topics.

Tags:  Dr. Ajay Kothari, Cosmos Club in Washington, DC talk, thorium, the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (TMSR), safety factors for the TMSR, nuclear isotopes used for the TMSR, thorium reserves in the U.S. and globally, demo was built in late 60's @ Oak Ridge, today's reactor operates @ higher temps, thorium researchers in the U.S. and globally, SMRs (small modular reactors), Copenhagen Atomics, huge ROI potential, thorium and propulsion, thorium for in-space and lunar power, Starship tonnage to orbit and thorium, comparisons to terrestrial solar and wind, SSP comparison, fusion, thorium for weapons, estimated cost for thorium KW/hour cost, thorium advantages compared to disadvantages, timeline for thorium commercial service, nuclear fear and thorium, NRC regulates thorium, NASA and thorium for in-space surface energy needs.

I had several areas of interest during Ajay's program. First was his driving home the safety factors of thorium as compared to fission nuclear power.  Thorium does not operate at high pressure so there would be no characteristic nuclear plant pressure dome for protection against meltdowns.  Listen to how Ajay described the pressure factor for the TMSR.  Ajay talked about modern TMSR plants being able to operate at much higher temperatures for more efficiency. This was stated as a big improvement over earlier demo modes and research from decades ago.  In addition to the safety, he compared the use of the nuclear isotopes in thorium to create power as compared to fission nuclear. This part of the discussion was crucial to understanding the safety of thorium, the lack of a primary weapons grade of nuclear material, plus other safety matters relating to thorium.

I was interested in learning about the DOD and NASA interest in thorium and the specific details of the types of interest they have been researching and displaying.  In addition, Ajay talked about the international players including China, India, Copenhagen with Copenhagen Atomics plus a company working on the TMSR in Holland and one in the UK.  The US also has companies involved in the TMSR reactor research. When he was asked for a timeline for commercial TMSR operations given the R&D going on globally, he said maybe 7-10 years.

Ajay was asked about the fear factor people have in general with nuclear power.  He strongly suggested this would not be applicable to thorium but educating the public to this would likely be a challenge.  Based on the above tags, there were many other topics mentioned and talked about this show so be sure to listen to all of it.

Please post your comments/questions for Ajay on the blog for this program.  You can reach him through The Space Show or his company, Astrox Corp in Maryland.  I believe he did give out his email address toward the end of the program.

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Ajay's Cosmos Club presentation, thorium development & use outside the U.S.

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20 Feb 2024 Dr. Ajay Kothari
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