What is thorium and why is it playing a role in the nuclear debate? asked:
What is thorium and why is it playing a role in the nuclear debate?
Eric - Thorium is element 90. Itís about 3 times more abundant than uranium. Thorium, if you put it inside a nuclear reactor, will absorb a neutron and turn it to uranium-233 and then that becomes a fuel.
Ben - So, it could be a useful thing to put into a nuclear reactor if we can get it to absorb those neutrons, if we can get it to play a part. Would it be safer? Would it be more useful or are the by-products less harmful?
Eric - I think we have to look at it from a resource standpoint since itís 3 times more abundant than uranium, it provides another energy input, so we have to provide a catalyst to turn that thorium into something that could be fissioned to break in half and that catalyst becomes a neutron. So from a safety standpoint, from a waste standpoint, I really don't see Ė you know, if you look at 10,000 feet, any real difference between the thorium or uranium cycle.
Ben - So itís perhaps not the panacea that the internet seems to claim that it is?
Eric - Well, I think if you had a chance to read Sir David Kingís SSEE Report towards a low carbon pathway, he talks about moving to a decarbonised society with more nuclear power and has discussions that there isn't enough uranium and so, that's where thorium can provide that extra element.
Cant thorium be used in a different way, something like a liquid salt reactor. i remember reading somewhere that a liquid salt reactor would be more efficient and therefore better. can anyone elaborate? Kellzea, Sat, 31st Mar 2012