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Thorium And The Future Of Nuclear Energy Video

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  • Vmedvil2 changed the title to Thorium And The Future Of Nuclear Energy Video
  • 3 weeks later...

I first took an interest in the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) concept because I thought these reactors could be used to manufacture Plutonium-238 which is ideal for use in space exploration.

A pellet of plutonium-238 oxide glows with heat generated by its radioactive decay. Such pellets are used as fuel in nuclear batteries known as Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG). Pu-238 has a half-life of 87.7 years, making it a much longer-lasting source of energy than polonium-210, which was used in the 1959 RTG prototype and has a half-life of 138 days. Pu-238 exhibits high heat density and emits primarily alpha particles, which are easily shielded; this makes it safer to handle than most other radioactive materials. High heat density and low shielding requirements both make for a lighter device. Pu-238 is non-fissile, so it cannot be used in nuclear power plants or nuclear weapons.

The greatest limitation of Pu-238, a manufactured isotope, is that all common Nuclear Reactors such as Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) and Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) cannot be used to manufacture Pu-238 This difficulty caused the USA to begin an approved program in 2014 to start production of plutonium-238 to replenish its stock of plutonium-238 which was running out for use in space exploration and addressed the looming shortage by reestablishing production of Pu-238 at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for future NASA missions in 2015.

 REF: https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/whatischemistry/landmarks/plutonium-238-production.html  

Only the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is capable of Pu-238 manufacture because unfortunately it now seems Thorium MSRs may be unsuitable for Pu-238 manufacture but there could still be a good reason to look at the Thorium MSR though because I believe virtually all present day reactors take nearly 8 days from shut-down not to require powered cooling (Chernobyl, Fukushima). In a Thorium molten salt reactor, dropping the molten salt from the carbon container into a holding tank below would quickly stop all activity. Afterwards the solid Thorium salt could be reheated and pumped up into the carbon container and the reactor restarted. There has been much talk of solar flares shorting out electric circuits and power lines, or flooding (the tsunami water) causing power failure (at Fukushima). Hopefully we can design and build better Nuclear Power plants for the future.

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