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Thread: Thorium

  1. #1 Thorium 
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    Any thoughts on Thorium fueled nuclear reactors? Proponents claim that it is vastly safer than the pressureized, water cooled type, currently used to produce electric power. That it burns up all its fuel leaving little to no waste. That thorium needs no enrichment, it will can react just as it is. There is more than 3 times as much thorium as unranium on the earth. etc etc.
    My understanding is that the Thorium reactor is good for power generation but will not make a workable bomb.

    So far my education on this item is via U tube so I'm aware I may have heard only part of the story.


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  3. #2  
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    From what I know there still some engineering issues remain. If they will make it work, could be a good power source for the next 200 years. Maybe, together with geothermal power.


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    Any thoughts on Thorium fueled nuclear reactors? Proponents claim that it is vastly safer than the pressureized, water cooled type, currently used to produce electric power. That it burns up all its fuel leaving little to no waste. That thorium needs no enrichment, it will can react just as it is. There is more than 3 times as much thorium as unranium on the earth. etc etc.
    My understanding is that the Thorium reactor is good for power generation but will not make a workable bomb.

    So far my education on this item is via U tube so I'm aware I may have heard only part of the story.
    Have you read the Wiki article? If not, that would seem, as usual, to be a decent jumping off point: Thorium-based nuclear power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It does rather look as if, due to the Cold War pressures at the end of the 60s and early 70s, Thorium reactors were not pursued, owing to their unsuitability for making byproducts for atomic weapons. Clearly, due to the safety aspects, development of new nuclear technologies will always have an uphill struggle commercially, compared to proven existing technology. However it does seem that thorium reactors are now being revisited in a number of countries. Not Iran, obviously. China and India seem particularly interested, in the latter case perhaps because a lot of the world's accessible thorium is found in India.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope cosmictraveler's Avatar
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    1. A fast breeder reactor is a nuclear reactor capable of generating more fissile material than it consumes. These devices are able to achieve this feat because their neutron economy is high enough to breed more fissile fuel than they use from fertile material like uranium-238 or thorium-232.

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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    Any thoughts on Thorium fueled nuclear reactors?
    Great idea but they have a long way to go.

    Remember back when light water reactors were being touted as 100% safe? After all, you just let the rods drop in (by gravity even!) and the reactor shuts down. LWRs and the technology that proceeded from them would result in "electricity too cheap to meter." We would all stop polluting and conserve oil through the limitless power of the atom.

    That's the state that thorium reactors are in now - a lot of hope, but not a lot of experience with the technology.

    Re - waste. The thorium fuel cycle can achieves high burnup but the resulting "core" (which might be liquid in the case of a MSR) will still be high level radioactive waste, with similar disposal problems to spent fuel assemblies from conventional reactors.

    (BTW "thorium" reactors are actually using uranium 233 as their fuel, which is produced from thorium. Hence the term "thorium fuel cycle" is often used.)
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    Re - waste. The thorium fuel cycle can achieves high burnup but the resulting "core" (which might be liquid in the case of a MSR) will still be high level radioactive waste, with similar disposal problems to spent fuel assemblies from conventional reactors.

    (BTW "thorium" reactors are actually using uranium 233 as their fuel, which is produced from thorium. Hence the term "thorium fuel cycle" is often used.)
    Probably they would have to design reactors in which cores could work for hundreds of years, you wouldn't have to dispose them, just to add thorium during all this time. Or just slowly refuel one liquid core from one reactor to the newer one.
    Last edited by Stanley514; October 2nd, 2014 at 02:46 PM.
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  8. #7  
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    Thorium reactors produce a lot less waste than conventional U235 reactors.
    Sadly, there is still a lot of development needed before thorium takes over.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Thorium reactors produce a lot less waste than conventional U235 reactors.
    I've never seen any analysis that shows that. The _reaction_ produces less waste, but some of those wastes (like U232) are among the most radioactive, and most dangerous, wastes imaginable. In addition it's not clear that replacing the core of a MSR reactor would be any easier than replacing the core of a LWR, since you will have to replace a lot of the carrier as well, and that has to be stored as high level waste as well.
    Sadly, there is still a lot of development needed before thorium takes over.
    Agreed.
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  10. #9  
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    Perhaps I should have said less long term waste. The thorium fuel cycle does not produce transuranics like plutonium, and its waste decays more rapidly, leaving fewer long term problems. It also means no by products that can be used in nuclear weapons.
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  11. #10  
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    It concerns me that essentially nothing is being done to get thorium reactors online and producing energy. It is not as if we have a lot of time to find energy sources. Fossil fuel caused pollution is already a major problem.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sealeaf View Post
    It concerns me that essentially nothing is being done to get thorium reactors online and producing energy. It is not as if we have a lot of time to find energy sources. Fossil fuel caused pollution is already a major problem.
    Obviously you didn't read my post on this thread.
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  13. #12  
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    Thorium is a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium.
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