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Table 1
ThorCon Prototype Test Schedule

Stage Time in Years Capital Required
Million USD
Purpose and Objective
Seed One 10 Complete detailed design. Prepare Specs for Yard and Vendors.
Execute selected experiments. Get quotes, select yard and vendors.
Raise Phase 1 money.
Phase 1a One 75 Build full-scale non-nuclear, single module prototype.
Key sub-system tests. Modify, improve design.
Phase 1b One 15 Full scale non-nuclear tests. Confirm thermo-hydraulics
Exercise instrumentation, safety, replacement systems
Approval of zero power tests. Raise Phase 2 money.
Phase 2a One 350 Build two module, 2 x 250 MWe Prototype. Long run non-nuclear tests.
Phase 2b One 20 Ramp up by stages to full power. Approval required at each step.
Subject plant to design basis casualties.
Test facility self-supporting by end of year 5.

This table shows our schedule for building and testing the prototype. Assuming the prototype performs per spec, we can go into deployment in year seven and quickly ramp up to one hundred 1 GWe ThorCons annually.

Some will scoff. The received wisdom is that there is something fundamentally different about nuclear that mandates decade long project times. Not true. Here are three counter-examples, projects which faced far more difficult problems than ThorCon does:

Wigner and Hanford Chain reaction not even demonstrated to a 500 MWt reactor in 2.5 years.
The Nautilus No such thing as a pressurized water reactor to a fully functional, nuclear powered submarine in five years.
Camp Century Contract signing to a operating reactor in northern Greenland in 22 months.

    When you consider what these three projects accomplished, the ThorCon schedule not only becomes feasible, but appears downright dilatory. Eugene Wigner, for one, would not be impressed.

    But ThorCon faces one problem that these pioneers did not. In the 1950’s, nuclear power was regarded as the gateway to a whole new world. Now it is regarded as a faustian bargain capable of immense harm. This is a product of a long history of conflating the dangers of acute, high level radiation with the health implications of chronic, low level radiation, the sort of radiation which has been part of our environment since before life began.

    ThorCon requires a country that is willing to take a fresh look at the hazards associated with nuclear power, informed by what we now know about how the cell and higher level organisms respond to radioactive stress. We are confident that such an investigation will reveal that nuclear power is unequivocally safer than fossil fuels, especially coal. We are confident that such an examination will conclude that nuclear power can be regulated like any other hazardous activity. The best model would be commercial airline travel.

    Such regulation should be based not on paperwork metrics, competition stifling certificates, and rerunning the same computer programs which were used to design the plant with the same positive results. Rather regulation should be based on rigorous testing of a fullscale prototype including imposition of design basis casualties. Once a design has passed all these tests,it must be replicated precisely and efficiently. The only feasible way of doing this is on an assembly line. ThorCon requires a country that adopts this attitude.

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