Naked Science Forum

Non Life Sciences => Physics, Astronomy & Cosmology => Topic started by: David G. Wonnacott on 20/12/2016 09:49:43

Title: Why don't we use Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors?
Post by: David G. Wonnacott on 20/12/2016 09:49:43
David G. Wonnacott  asked the Naked Scientists:
I just listened to the podcast  ( your "Going Nuclear" episode, and I was surprised not to hear any mention of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors ("LFTR's"). These were described in the current issue of 'American Scientist' magazine, which has an article describing the "... advantages in design, operation, safety, waste management, cost, and proliferation resistance" of this technology. I enjoyed your discussion of hybrid fusion/fission reactors, but like other other fusion reactors this sounds like something that is still a long way off. In contrast, power from LFTR technology was demonstrated in the early years of the nuclear era. It was passed by in favor of solid-fuel uranium technology for various reasons that no longer seem compelling for the civilian nuclear power industry (suitability for use in submarines, ease of use of spent uranium fuel for weapons).

Why do we not hear more about this? It sounds like a much less challenging way reduce our generation of plutonium by a factor of 3000 (vs. conventional solid fuel uranium fission reactors). Apparently India is looking into full conversion from uranium to thorium over the next five decades, in part due to their short supply of uranium. I would very much like to know whether you think LFTR technology is as promising as it sounds in the American Scientist article.

    Dave in Ardmore, Pa (currently fully clothed while at work, but willing to state that novel research ideas do occur to me in the shower --- hooray for naked science).
What do you think?