I had a really bad time with my thorium reactor.
It just wouldn’t work right. The steam reserve kept fluctuating wildly, and the turbines would drift from 100% output to 10% or even stopped seemingly at random.
I fixated for a long time on the steam delivery, but after far, far too much time going down blind alleys, I finally realized the problem was the large heat exchanger. The steam output was just all over the place, and wasn’t producing nearly as much steam as it should, overall.
I’d slapped lots of one-way shutters into the steam pipes, which didn’t help. The moment I did the same to the hot coolant pipe, the turbines started delivering reliable power, and the steam buffer went from wild up and down swings to a slow, steady climb.
I’m not sure exactly why the large heat exchanger is so sensitive to steady flow. You would think that even if the hot coolant delivery were irregular, it would average out to the same rate, but overall steam production was way down with irregular flow. It’s not like I hit the superheated steam threshold, either, since the small steel pipes can’t deliver 4000L in one second, even with sloshing.
The final layout is a bit inefficient, because there are long (7-15 segment) pipes running steam from the buffer tank to the turbines. If I had put the turbines directly below the steam buffer, instead of on the same floor, I could have eliminated a lot of pipe. I did it this way because I wanted to be able to see everything easily, the reactor, exchanger, steam tank, and turbines, instead of having to run up and down stairs. It was really helpful when diagnosing my steam production problem.
It doesn’t bother me too much because Huge PTFE pipes are relatively cheap and high throughput. It does make me wonder about the logistics of anything bigger and higher volume, though.