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Author Topic: Are Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactors viable?  (Read 6526 times)

Offline Ben Aldhouse

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Are Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactors viable?
« on: 17/10/2010 15:07:40 »
Recently on 'The Skeptics Guide To The Universe' they talked about how Thorium powered nuclear reactors could potentially be safer and provide more energy than those currently in use. Could this be true?


 

Offline Atomic-S

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Are Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactors viable?
« Reply #1 on: 23/10/2010 09:22:01 »
I hear that it is, but I have no details.
 

Offline Ben Aldhouse

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Are Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactors viable?
« Reply #2 on: 27/10/2010 21:48:33 »
It looks like the Skeptics might have got on to this from this article in the Telegraph...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/7970619/Obama-could-kill-fossil-fuels-overnight-with-a-nuclear-dash-for-thorium.html
 

Offline CliffordK

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Are Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactors viable?
« Reply #3 on: 29/11/2010 13:01:57 »
Wow...
I was working on a project that was digging up Thorium waste in St. Louis and transporting it to Idaho and Utah to be buried.

Perhaps the next project will be digging it up again from Utah and Idaho and shipping it back to St. Louis.

As I understand it, after the Manhattan project, which involved the separation of Thorium and Uranium, there was a belief that the Thorium might have value...  so the thorium was stored... but not very safely, thinking it would have future value which never materialized.  Eventually it was buried in St. Louis, then later dug back up to be shipped to Utah and Idaho.

The notes that I'm seeing indicate that the Thorium doesn't sustain the nuclear fission reactions effectively, but perhaps there would be a way to mix Thorium and Uranium.

I'm seeing notes on Wikipedia of about a dozen experimental Thorium reactors from the 60's and 70's.  Most have been shut down.  Most seem to require both Uranium and Thorium to sustain the reaction.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thorium_fuel_cycle

Personally I think the number one priority in the nuclear industry should be developing spent rod reprocessing capabilities which will include designing power plants to use multiple fissile materials.

I bumped into this Scientific American Article:
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=nuclear-waste-lethal-trash-or-renewable-energy-source

It indicates that France, Japan, Russia and the U.K. all recycle their spent rods (to some extent).  But, the USA considers doing so would be a serious security breach.  Notes also seem to indicate that recycled uranium (and other products) may be more expensive than the newly mined Uranium...  and so the power companies seem to think it is more economic to produce tons and tons of waste than to recycle their rods (which are only about 5% depleted).

Here is a good note about "MOX Fuel" which is a blending of spent fuel products to produce new fuel rods that have many of the same characteristics as the "new" Uranium fuel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MOX_fuel

Down at the bottom, there is a brief note about Plutonium/Thorium MOX being a possible viable fuel.
« Last Edit: 29/11/2010 13:20:48 by CliffordK »
 

SteveFish

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Are Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactors viable?
« Reply #4 on: 29/11/2010 17:10:06 »
Use "generation 4 reactor" as a search term to see other possibilities for using up spent nuclear fuel to generate power.
 

Offline rickmaltese

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Are Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactors viable?
« Reply #5 on: 03/12/2010 22:19:16 »
Thorium needs a small amount of uranium to kick start a reaction in a molten salt reactor.
Currently there are no commercial molten salt reactors. The US ran experiments for about
20 years using these and had very good results. They were abandoned because they were too
damn efficient and when the process ended there was no nuclear waste. What they wanted was
a way to produce weapons grade nuclear fuel so they chose that direction. That decision led
to Yucca Mountain instead of prosperity for all and elimination of coal plants. Read more
at newbielink:http://thoriummsr.com [nonactive]
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Are Thorium Powered Nuclear Reactors viable?
« Reply #5 on: 03/12/2010 22:19:16 »

 

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