Lou Qualls on Nuclear Power and Molten-Salt Reactors @ TEAC10

Lou Qualls very generously agreed to
speak for a few minutes about what’s going on at the lab (ORNL) down the street
thank you Lou, thank you very much so thank you for having me I’m Lou Qualls and I’m gonna try to provide a little background in context for you in
the history of molten salt reactors and research so if you go back
when I started studying nuclear engineering I thought wow this is
ancient technology it’s been around forever must have started in the Middle
Ages and now we’re reading about it in textbooks and it turns out, no it’s a
it’s really a very new technology Einstein wrote his equations and what
1905 he published his papers and it was a curiosity, a mathematical curiosity
fission was discovered but not understood finally they explained the
conversion of mass to energy and someone put that together that hey you can move
across that equation and maybe there’s some use that could come out of that
there was a lot of skepticism early on that fission would ever work.
Lord RUTHERFORD, at the time the smartest man in the world said
fission would never work because it took more energy to create a beam
to produce fission than you got out of it that was on September 12 1933 I know that
because I got an article of it in my office now fast forward people had a bigger
vision I said well it’s not just about using a beam to split it we could make a
chain reaction and very quickly it was demonstrated that you could produce a
chain reaction and from that you could produce a reactor and the reactor would
operate and you could get useful energy out of it so you’re here I appreciate
you being here the enthusiasm for a really good subject abundant amounts
of clean energy okay sometimes in our society we don’t see the great need
for it so much we’re so familiar with affordable and reliable energy
but throughout the world there’s a great demand for
a lot of energy a lot more and that needs to be clean so nuclear
is a great option for that and this conferences is about having
that available energy for the world a little more history a little more context
so the period after the war there was a great expansion of the nuclear
possibilities and people thought about all kinds of reactors that could
be built and tested and Oak Ridge built 13 reactors and operated on their site.
Idaho National Lab built 52 reactors. and the point was is they all
kind of worked you know it’s not that difficult to make a reactor that works
and behaves and you can understand it and so that was a great period of
expansion and thought and during that time in about 1950 someone came upon the
idea of having a molten salt reactor and they started having early studies about
the use of molten salt for coolant and they studied that pretty heavily in the
50s up to the early 60s and they decided to build one and that was the
Molten Salt Reactor Experiment it went critical I think in 1964.
I think Dr. Kerlin and Sid ball wrote their famous paper in 1965. I was born in
1963 so that tells you how we all we all started about the same time now the Molten Salt
Reactor Experiment is about 55 years old and so am I. so that was a great
experiment it worked well. it was well behaved it demonstrated the concept.
it is the start for a potential future of molten salt reactors that can help
supply that clean energy to the world Ondrej is the next generation of
technical professional who’s putting things together the tools together to be
able to make this technology and get it out to the market groups like this are
people who are getting the word out of the importance of doing so and it’s very
important that you continue to do that. 1981 I went off to college
I didn’t know what I wanted to do I started out in architecture but
I couldn’t draw a thing. I was more interested in how the
building stood up than what it looked like and so I said well
maybe I’m an engineer I’m gonna go be an engineer
someone said well what kind I said well you mean what kind?
there’s all sorts of Engineers you need to go figure out what kind you want to be
so I went over to the University of Tennessee campus and I went into every
department and I said I’d like to be an engineer tell me about your department
and and I got various responses from all the department heads but I went into
nuclear energy building the nuclear energy building on campus and there sat
a man named Dr. Pete Pasqua in what is now called the Pasqua and Nuclear
Engineering Building and I never forget this I was a kid didn’t
know anything about engineering or nuclear engineering and I went into his
office and I remember he had some books in front of him he kind of pushed him
aside and he sat down and he it crossed his hands and we talked for
2 hours and I remember after that meeting I said you know I still
don’t know anything about nuclear engineering but I know that right here
in this place is a home that cares about my success this person cares about my
success so I’m gonna stick around and figure out a little bit about nuclear
engineering. Ondrej works in that same department today and it has that
same spirit today. so 1982 I enrolled in that program and I had a lot
of great teachers but a couple of them are sitting right over there
Dr. Tom Kerlin and Dr. Belle Upadhyaya those two guys their patience cannot be overstated
trained me up and prepared me to go to work and I did I was very fortunate to
have an opportunity to work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where Dr. Jim
Rushton was my boss for a while so I want you to appreciate the heritage and the
history that stands before you in this room. they worked on the Molten Salt
Reactor Experiment- where is Syd Ball? Syd Ball back there! They worked on the
MSRE they have proven the point of that what you want to do is plausible and credible
and it’s sat dormant for a long time I didn’t even study it when
I was in school and now in my point in my career I have an opportunity to work
on advanced reactors and I work on molten salt reactors and I work with
great people like Ondrej to carry it forward and the word is getting out and
the momentum is building for the opportunity for this great technology to
come to the market and and we believe that it will and I thank you for being
here I thank you for being supportive of the technology for
nuclear energy and clean energy is very important for the world
so thank you very much

13 thoughts on “Lou Qualls on Nuclear Power and Molten-Salt Reactors @ TEAC10

  1. Just as I post this Eric Meyer is live-streaming "sit-in" for nuclear. See if still streaming (Sunday) https://www.facebook.com/generationatomic/videos/520931125364880/

  2. I just found this video while listening to you on the #sitin4nuclear webinar. Thanks for all your efforts; I tuned in to nuclear and thorium with TedXYYC, Kirk Sorensen and Protospace in 2010.

  3. Just as I post this Eric Meyer is live-streaming "sit-in" for nuclear. See if still streaming (Sunday) https://www.facebook.com/generationatomic/videos/520931125364880/

  4. Lou Qualls notes: "There is one error in it. It was Lord Rutherford, NOT Lord Kelvin, that I quoted. The error will forever live in history."

  5. I just started learning about this stuff, checked the TEA website, and turns out it was 2 weeks ago! Thanks for uploading the clip, maybe next year I'll come.

  6. We must go full nuclear!. The safest, I repeat, the safest, cheaper, cleanest, and the least landscape intrusive energy. And non intermittent, by the way. Should not were for the taxes imposed by stupid or corrupt governments on the taxpayers for the subsidies for solar and wind, they wouldn't exist. It's a big scam for the hard-earned-money workers. STOP THE WIND AND SOLAR CRAZINESS:

    It's the SUN, stupid!!!:


    CO2 is very GOOD (look at the increase in crops worldwide in recent years: http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/csdb/en/ ). Pollution is BAD.


    The Earth is getting greener because of CO2:





    If the carbon dioxide is so bad for the climate, how is it explained that during the years 1934 to 1937 such great natural disasters (heat waves, floodings,…..) occurred in the USA with half the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of which we have nowadays?.

  7. I think he had a bet with someone as to how often he could say clean energy and avoid the words fission, radiation, and waste.

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