Physical Insights

An independent scientist’s observations on society, technology, energy, science and the environment. “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan

New Toshiba “micro-reactors”?

with 3 comments

I’ve seen this popping up on a few news sites and blogs today… But I’ve heard nothing about it from any credible source.

Toshiba Builds 100x Smaller Micro Nuclear Reactor

Is this for real, a rumor, or a hoax?  It looks to share many common features with the Toshiba 4S technology, but looks quite different, too.

Using Lithium-6 as a neutron absorption medium is a seemingly interesting choice –  this will certainly capture neutrons, but produce Tritium like nothing else! Usually, the Lithium added to LWR coolant for pH control is specifically chosen to be depleted in Li-6, so as to prevent tritium formation – using Lithium-6 in nuclear engineering is nothing new, but it is usually confined to applications where significant Tritium production is the desired outcome – usually for nuclear weapons use.

Does anybody have any credible news concerning this announcement?


Written by Luke Weston

December 19, 2007 at 5:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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3 Responses

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  1. That caught my attention as well. Using lithium-6 would produce lots and lots of tritium. Actually, that’s how they produce tritium in general.

    For general purpose neutron absorption there’s no reason to go to li-6 unless you want to make tritium. Generally you’d use boron-10 or maybe cadmium or hafnium.

    All I can think: Perhaps the goal is to increase energy in some way? Tritium does not produce much energy in terms of decay but maybe that combined with the fissioning of Li-6 into he4 ad H3? I don’t think that produces much extra energy, compared to boron neutron capture. It’s all I can think of..

    That is, unless they want to make tritium as a biproduct.


    December 20, 2007 at 3:54 am

  2. Why isn’t this on the Toshiba website? Am I missing something?

    Stewart Peterson

    December 21, 2007 at 5:55 pm

  3. Stewart, that’s what I don’t understand. There’s no mention of it from any credible or official source. Is it a hoax, a rumor somebody has picked up, or a misunderstanding?


    December 23, 2007 at 11:00 am

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