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Author Topic: Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?  (Read 4099 times)

Robert Doyle

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Robert Doyle asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Have you done a segment on the show in regards to Throium-based power generation? I searched the site and couldn't find anything specifically on that subject. I have heard that it is a safer alternative, but I would like to know more details, delivered from an impartial (I think) source.
 
Regards,
 
Robert Doyle        

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 04/04/2011 18:30:03 by _system »


 

Offline syhprum

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #1 on: 04/04/2011 19:56:16 »
Despite the recent Japanese power station problems I do not think a drastic redesign of reactors is appropriate, the TEPCO problems were due to the lack of forsight as to where the station was located and lack of redundancy in the cooling system not to basic problem with the reactor design.
I am not happy with the Idea of a radical change to Thorium based reactors due to the severe corrosion problems, let us stick with tried and tested designs and not branch of to yet another experimental system.
Evolution not revolution!.
« Last Edit: 04/04/2011 20:12:29 by syhprum »
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #2 on: 04/04/2011 23:00:23 »
There are good arguments on both sides and it is well worthwhile developing thorium fission reactors in parallel with uranium if only for the reason that thorium is more plentiful. however the best nuclear energy source would always be fusion power.

However solar and solar related (biomass etc) power must ultimately be the main source of power for mankind.
 

Offline GrapperJ

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #3 on: 08/04/2011 18:38:29 »
However solar and solar related (biomass etc) power must ultimately be the main source of power for mankind.

I'm going to disagree. To power the world today, we would need enough solar panels to cover 366,500 square kilometers. That's the land area of Germany.

50-100 years from now, that requirement will be tripled and so on. While an excellent source of clean energy, it cannot/will not 'ultimately' be the solution. Solar power doesn't scale properly with a growing population.
 

Offline lightarrow

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #4 on: 08/04/2011 18:55:10 »
The best nuclear reactor is the one in the paper only. Humankind is not yet prepared enough to manage this kind of things.
If someone wants a nuclear reactor, it will have to be made under its home and far from mine.
« Last Edit: 08/04/2011 18:57:44 by lightarrow »
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #5 on: 09/04/2011 13:12:34 »
So you're anti-nuclear power lightarrow? That's interesting
 

Offline lightarrow

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #6 on: 09/04/2011 19:33:58 »
So you're anti-nuclear power lightarrow? That's interesting
I know  :)
I wasn't, until I became aware of all the political/administrative problems in the management of dangerous/toxic plants and wastes.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #7 on: 09/04/2011 23:45:45 »
Grapper J I am afraid your arguments are just a demonstration of how overpopulated this world is with excessively power hungry people.  Whilst I believe that nuclear power is an essential stop gap until the earth's population and power needs can be brought properly under control.  either direct or indirect solar power is the ONLY possibility if we are thinking on time scales of many millions of years.  If we fail to recognise this important fact nature will solve the problem in ways that we will find a lot less comfortable
 

Offline GrapperJ

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #8 on: 10/04/2011 02:07:45 »
Grapper J I am afraid your arguments are just a demonstration of how overpopulated this world is with excessively power hungry people.

I completely agree. But being power hungry is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, according to the Kardashev scale (popularized by Hawking in his books), it's a direct measurement of how advanced a civilization is. Consuming large amounts of power is neither inherently good or bad, the acquisition of that power is the issue. Not usage. Cutting back on power is not a viable solution, nor a realistic one. It would also hinder our growth as a species.

Quote
either direct or indirect solar power is the ONLY possibility if we are thinking on time scales of many millions of years.

That I can also agree with. Solar power is very enticing and extremely powerful in theoretical ideas like Dyson Spheres etc...
 

Offline Madidus_Scientia

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #9 on: 10/04/2011 02:29:12 »
I know  :)
I wasn't, until I became aware of all the political/administrative problems in the management of dangerous/toxic plants and wastes.

Isn't that more of a problem of current and old plants though, and not future ones? Haven't we already made most of the waste we ever will?
 

David Blanchard

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Can uranium-based reactors use thorium instead?
« Reply #10 on: 10/04/2011 11:30:02 »
David Blanchard asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Can existing uranium nuclear reactors be retrofitted to to use safe Thorium type fuel, and at the same time reprocess old spent uranium/plutonium fuel rods?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 10/04/2011 11:30:02 by _system »
 

@nigelbird

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Why don't we use thorium reactors?
« Reply #11 on: 10/04/2011 12:30:03 »
@nigelbird asked the Naked Scientists:
   
Why are there no thorium reactors - it's cheaper that plutonium?

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 10/04/2011 12:30:03 by _system »
 

Offline lightarrow

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #12 on: 10/04/2011 13:35:19 »
I know  :)
I wasn't, until I became aware of all the political/administrative problems in the management of dangerous/toxic plants and wastes.

Isn't that more of a problem of current and old plants though, and not future ones? Haven't we already made most of the waste we ever will?
They always say that the new generation of reactors will be safe, this from the beginning of the nuclear era...
About the wastes, we shouldn't add problems to the ones we already have. Can you say for certain that the wastes already produced won't create any problem in the future? If they are put in a ship which is then made sink in the sea, maybe in a country where official controls are a joke, who will notice it?
There are too many unreliable people around, people who would even sell his mother for some money...
 

Offline JMLCarter

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Why don't we use thorium reactors?
« Reply #13 on: 10/04/2011 18:43:09 »
I can't answer but further to the question:
I wonder if/think that most reactors were built before the thorium concept got much credibility.
I wonder if/think that the plutonium reactor technology was more sophisticated/mature (rather like the petrol/electric car problem).

 

Offline SeanB

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #14 on: 10/04/2011 21:09:24 »
Most, if not all, existing plants can use a fuel made from U235 and Plutonium, with almost no changes. The big problem is that there is no reprocessing of the fuel, which would allow more of the energy in the fuel to be used, and which would reduce the amount of high level waste in storage ( as this is mostly fuel run through once) by using more of the available energy, as opposed to the 5% or so that is now used. Reprocessing would reduce the need for mining raw uranium, as there are large stockpiles of it already. you could probably blend Thorium in with this fuel as well, and get more out of it.
 

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Is thorium-based power generation a safer alternative?
« Reply #14 on: 10/04/2011 21:09:24 »

 

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