Jump to content
Science Forums

Are Thorium Reactors Better?


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 41
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

Its not just that the spent fuel cant be used for weapons, Thorium is much more abundant in nature than Uranium and can be put through a cycle of uses that ends up producing much less nuclear waste.  

All of this is very interesting and relevant, especially for the U.S. But as far as I know there are no plans at any U.S. national laboratories or energy sites for building thorium reactors and putti

I'm sorry but you are silly silly people quoting a whole lot of nuclear industry spin media trying to sell "safe" breeding technology. Australia and India have both been trying hard to spin "safe th

Its not just that the spent fuel cant be used for weapons, Thorium is much more abundant in nature than Uranium and can be put through a cycle of uses that ends up producing much less nuclear waste.

 

Thorium reactors are also apparently more safe, but I cant find the scientific reason behind it.. They are more expensive to run but I am sure they would compare very well with coal fired stations, Im not sure how you want them compared.. but they are more efficient than Uranium reactors.

 

I am not sure if you can use it in combination with a PBMR but I do not see why not.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Jay

just found this interesting article on it.

http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/node/348?gclid=CPeP7uzY7ogCFQloYAodpU7PkA

 

Magazine feature

New age nuclear

Issue 8 of Cosmos, April 2006

by Tim Dean

 

Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases, but it has many drawbacks. Now a radical new technology based on thorium promises what uranium never delivered: abundant, safe and clean energy - and a way to burn up old radioactive waste.

 

What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles?

And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands?

It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium.

 

Named after Thor, the warlike Norse god of thunder, thorium could ironically prove a potent instrument of peace as well as a tool to soothe the world's changing climate

This was an especially interesting comment

But wait, there's more: thorium has another remarkable property.

Add plutonium to the mix - or any other radioactive actinide - and the thorium fuel process will actually incinerate these elements.

That's right: it will chew up old nuclear waste as part of the power-generation process. It could not only generate power, but also act as a waste disposal plant for some of humanity's most heinous toxic waste.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...
That bit is interesting, Michaelangelica. Quite interesting....:eek:

 

Thanks I think it changes the whole nuclear debate

Are there any thorium reactors existing now?

 

New age nuclear

Issue 8 of Cosmos, April 2006

by Tim Dean

New age nuclear

Image: Justin Randall

 

Nuclear energy produces no greenhouse gases, but it has many drawbacks. Now a radical new technology based on thorium promises what uranium never delivered: abundant, safe and clean energy - and a way to burn up old radioactive waste.

 

What if we could build a nuclear reactor that offered no possibility of a meltdown, generated its power inexpensively, created no weapons-grade by-products, and burnt up existing high-level waste as well as old nuclear weapon stockpiles? And what if the waste produced by such a reactor was radioactive for a mere few hundred years rather than tens of thousands? It may sound too good to be true, but such a reactor is indeed possible, and a number of teams around the world are now working to make it a reality. What makes this incredible reactor so different is its fuel source: thorium.

 

Named after Thor, the warlike Norse god of thunder, thorium could ironically prove a potent instrument of peace as well as a tool to soothe the world's changing climate.

New age nuclear | COSMOS magazine

 

MORE here:-

Update 2 Thorium - The Better Nuclear Fuel?

Thorium: Is It the Better Nuclear Fuel?

It may turn out to be a quantum leap in the search for economy and safety.

Carlo Rubbia won a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 for the discovery of two elusive high energy particles, called the W and the Z. The discovery was a feat not only of physics, but of engineering. He is good at both, and now has another idea which could revolutionize the methods we use to retrieve nuclear energy.

You may never have heard of thorium. It is a plentiful element; there is more of it in the earth's crust than uranium. No, it is not fissionable. But it can be made into a low weight isotope of uranium that is fissionable. Rubbia thinks it may be worth the trouble to do that, even if it is a roundabout route to nuclear fission. countries.

A good introduction to Rubbia's idea is in "Megawatts and Megatons," (pp153-163) by Richard Garwin and Georges Charpak, Knopf, NY 2001 (originally published in 1997 in French). Another summary, just 3 pages long, is in the CERN Courier, a publication of the European collider laboratory, of April 1995, available on the web at The Energy Amplifier . The CERN report closes with this sentence: "With the heavy ecological implications of present nuclear and conventional energy sources, it is surprising how little R&D work is being invested anywhere in this potentially rewarding alternative energy solution."

What is special about thorium?

(1) Weapons-grade fissionable material (uranium233) is harder to retrieve safely and clandestinely from the thorium reactor than plutonium is from the uranium breeder reactor.

(2) Thorium produces 10 to 10,000 times less long-lived radioactive waste than uranium or plutonium reactors.

(3) Thorium comes out of the ground as a 100% pure, usable isotope, which does not require enrichment, whereas natural uranium contains only 0.7% fissionable U235.

(4) Because thorium does not sustain chain reaction, fission stops by default if we stop priming it, and a runaway chain reaction accident is improbable.

Besides, the priming process is extremely efficient: the nuclear process puts out 60 times the energy required to keep it primed. Because of this, the device is also called, (quite inappropriately) an "Energy Amplifier."

Naturally occurring thorium is in the form of the stable isotope, 90Th232. Notice that thorium is just two places removed on the periodic table from Uranium. In a sequence of nuclear processes exactly like those by which the non-fissionable isotope, 92U238 is bumped up through Neptunium to Plutonium, 94Pu239, Thorium can be bumped up to a light weight isotope of Uranium, 92U233. (See p 135, Eq 15.01 and 15.02 of "A serious but not ponderous book about Nuclear Energy".) In each case, a non-fissionable isotope is converted to a fissionable one.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...
Malignant mesothelioma has also been linked to therapeutic radiation using thorium dioxide and zeolite, a silicate in the soil.

Oncology: Mesothelioma

 

Just recently an interesting German report was issued on uranium. It makes a number of conclusions worth pondering,

 

… Any forecast of the development of nuclear power in the next 25 years has to concentrate on two aspects, the supply of uranium and the addition of new reactor capacity. At least within this time horizon, neither nuclear breeding reactors nor thorium reactors will play a significant role because of the long lead times for their development and market penetration.

Science and Global Security - China Uranium Deal Ratified: This Is Heavy Man!!

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Sign Up

Print Edition : California

Radioactive metal found at Oxnard site

EPA closes the Ormond Beach wetlands after thorium from nearby slag piles turns up.

By Gregory W. Griggs, Times Staff Writer

March 7, 2007

 

Following the recent discovery of radioactive material nearby, the Environmental Protection Agency has restricted public access to Ormond Beach wetlands in Oxnard while it oversees the stabilization of massive waste piles generated by a shuttered metal recycling plant.

 

The radioactive metal thorium, which was found about 100 feet southwest of the slag piles, is considered a health risk after direct or prolonged exposure, officials said. After confirming the contamination last week, EPA contractors fenced off the site Friday and blocked its entrance.

 

Thorium enters the body through inhaling or swallowing and while most of it is expelled as waste, small amounts can get into the bloodstream or be deposited in bone. The EPA said studies show that inhaling thorium dust causes increased risk of developing bone, lung or pancreatic cancers.

 

Last month, the EPA began a multimillion-dollar stabilization of the towering piles of recycled waste at the former Halaco Engineering Co. smelting plant.

 

The EPA's goal is to reshape the slag piles — higher than 45 feet in some places — to make them less susceptible to erosion.

 

Robert Wise, on-scene coordinator with the EPA's emergency response section, said he discovered what appeared to be a strange clay-like substance near the bridge that leads to a walking trail at the end of Perkins Road. Further examination revealed that it was thorium

.
Link to post
Share on other sites
how did it get out?:)

"Dr. Karl's" reaction to coal power stations

In his book "Sensational Moments in Science", ABC Press, 2001.

He has an interesting take on coal power:-

 

"In 1982, some 111 (US)nuclear-fired power plants consumed about 540 tonnes of nuclear fuel.

In the same year, coal-fired power plants released over 800 tonnes of uranium." into the atmosphere.

"If a single nuclear-fired plant released 8K of uranium into the bio-sphere. there would be . .an enormous outcry."

 

He says the nuclear content of coal has not yet reached general public awareness in the same way that the greenhouse effect AIDs, or the ozone hole have.

There are no nuclear regulations about the disposal of coal ash

 

Coal apparently contains a heap of uranium and thorium

He concludes that you will get three times more radiation from a coal fired power plant than a nuclear fueled power plant! That's if you include the complete nuclear fuel cycle mining, processing operating, disposal(!?)

If you don't include these your average coal-fired power plant puts out 100 times more radiation than a nuclear-fired plant.

p103-104

 

I wonder how much radioactive junk is floating about from coal powered electricity plants. Does anyone ever test this?

Link to post
Share on other sites

theres a closed down nuclear plant here in south fl that i ride my bike through occassionally.they have a nature trail with mangroves and a boardwalk through it.ide assume it was part of some ecological rehab thingy they did after the plant closed.and the concrete plant itself is clean as a wisle and still looks operational.i dont seee why they dont have more nuclear power stations

Link to post
Share on other sites

All of this is very interesting and relevant, especially for the U.S. But as far as I know there are no plans at any U.S. national laboratories or energy sites for building thorium reactors and putting their electricity online. Instead, we are still in the business of tearing down old nuclear plants, which probably should be done. But we have no plans to replace them.

 

In America, we all know we have an energy crisis. In fact we are fighting wars over it, while watching the global temperature rise inconveniently. But politics rules here. And America, after all, is a capitalistic democracy. This helps to explain, for example, why Interstate speed limits have not yet been reduced to save fuel consumption, and why SUVs remain predominant on our highways. Our economy depends upon them.

 

So we're going to grow biofuels to pump into our SUVs. We'll put a lot farmer to work, and that's good, but who's worried about freshwater supplies and CO2 emmissions? Not the capitalists, I suppose, who claim to know what's best for us and for our economy.

 

I appologize for my off-topic tirade; these thing are getting the best of me. The entire Hanford Site in eastern Washington is considered primarily to be a hazardous/nuclear waste cleanup problem. Well, yes, it has a cleanup problem, but it also has enormous value and resouces for getting a good idea like thorium reactors up and running. But Hanford is doing nothing of the kind. The sad and inconvenient truth is that America is spending her money and resources on other things, foolishly.

 

—Larv

Link to post
Share on other sites
All of this is very interesting and relevant, especially for the U.S. . The sad and inconvenient truth is that America is spending her money and resources on other things, foolishly.

 

—Larv

Yep - but most of us are fiddling while the planet burns.

I don't know where we find politicians with vision

Perhaps we get the politicians we deserve?

I was interesed in your comment that no thorium reactors were being built so I did a bit of googling

and came up with this

thorium reactors

RETHINKING NUCLEAR POWER: India's Homegrown Thorium Reactor ...

India's Homegrown Thorium Reactor. Pallava Bagla ... What makes India's strategy unique is its plan to build commercial reactors that run not on uranium but ...

Science/AAAS | Science Magazine: Sign In - Similar pages

[PDF]

Science Magazine

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat

the reactor will go critical as. planned in September 2010. Mujid Kazimi,a nuclear engi-. neer who studies thorium fuels. at the Massachusetts Institute ...

Science/AAAS | Sign In - Similar pages

[ More results from Science/AAAS | Scientific research, news and career information ]

 

Nuclear power - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

India is also building a bigger scale FBTR or fast breeder thorium reactor to ... Also, Japan's Monju reactor is planned for restart (having been shut down ...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power - 165k - Cached - Similar pages

Advanced Reactors Around the World

The first stage of their plan, building pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) ... Finally, they want to build thorium-uranium-233 fueled reactors with ...

npj.goinfo.com/NPJMain.nsf/0/9d01c4645e3e35a186256dcf00647d01?OpenDocument - 21k - Cached - Similar pages

Independent Online Edition > Science & Technology

Consequently, the waste produced from burning thorium in a reactor would not be ... has already planned its nuclear power program eventually to use thorium, ...

news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article2070374.ece - Similar pages

 

Change comes slowly.

As a species we need to be able to respond to a fast changing world with greater speed and flexibility.

How to do that when we are still use primitive decision making consensus systems, for a world that changed very slowly, I don't know.

(High status individuals have greater effect on opinion and are usually the most conservative and the last to know what "Fred" has done in his laboratory)

Perhaps better education and forums like this may help.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

I'm sorry but you are silly silly people quoting a whole lot of nuclear industry spin media trying to sell "safe" breeding technology.:stupid:

Australia and India have both been trying hard to spin "safe thorium technology" to their people. Lifelong "gratitude" from big nuclear for the politicians who pull that off. Thorium as a word is not brand associated like U or Pu.

 

Thorium232 is not fissile. Breeding it in a nuclear reactor with neutrons makes Uranium233 which is fissile. This is a Seriously radioactive Isotope that is not only 50000 times more radioactive than U235 but is also in the neptunium series. This series of actinide isotopes of mass = 4n+1 is the only of 4 to have no naturally occuring isotopes because they are all seriously radioactive and have hence "cooled down" since formed in the neutron flux of a supernova. This means that every 233 decay is rapidly followed by a string of 9 other decays.

So in reality it is as radioactive as plutonium. It is just as worthy of making bombs and they have been made from it and detonated. If you replaced "thorium" with "plutonium" in the articles on the first page would it be so easily swallowed? There is fundamentally no differences.

 

"burning nuclear waste" is another piece of spin. You breed more and higher actinides than you burn and tie yourself into a repeating cycle of separating "relatively" long lived actinides from short life ones some of which are billions of times more radioactive that plutonium. There are some 2000 high actinide isotopes unavoidably bred in reactors and only a dozen or so stable enough to be used for fuel. so "disposing of Nuclear Waste" is code for "let us use breeding technology"

Estimates are that it would take hundreds of years of doing this and reprocessing fuel yearly and storing the billions of times worse than plutonium stuff you can't use until it settles down in a few thousand years- just to make non fissile (but more radioactive) your first batch of "nuclear waste"

We can't separate higher actinides on any decent scale currently let alone do it safely with the billions of times worse than Pu radiologic hazard and fact that a critical mass of some of these is as small as a centimeter.:lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Did y'all know that there is an "thorium promotion forum" Seems to be a lot of thorium advocates there.

 

—Larv

 

 

As I said the nuclear industry is trying to spin Thorium as safe. Some people are sucked in by this:doh: . Others on forums are paid by the Nuclear industry to spread this mis-info:evil: . I have explained above why it is as bad as Plutonium breeding technology and why actually they are the same game (starting by breeding u233 will result in using Pu, Np, Cm,Bk, and Cf isotopes for fuel).

When the Australian infomercial on thorium was played here in NZ I checked this stuff with Prof Paul Barker the head of Nuclear physics at Auckland University. He was Disgusted and Very Angry at the lies and bribed academics spewing nonsense:naughty: .

Link to post
Share on other sites
As I said the nuclear industry is trying to spin Thorium as safe...When the Australian infomercial on thorium was played here in NZ I checked this stuff with Prof Paul Barker the head of Nuclear physics at Auckland University. He was Disgusted and Very Angry at the lies and bribed academics spewing nonsense.

Silverslith, you seem to apply more bluster and attitude, not to mention smilies, than sound reasoning to the problem of abating our energy crisis. The most important question about it is this: How do you solve the EC in the most healthful and environmentally friendly way possible? You can rant against nucear power and thorium reactors all you want, but that still doesn't solve the EC. Risk-free energy is hard to find, you know.

 

Just curious: Do you really think that petroleum, coal, natural gas, biofuels, and hydropower are more healthful and environmentally friendly than nuclear power? We have to get down to comparing relative risks of power production to see this problem more clearly. I'll agree with you that rampant capitalism is suspect of spinning the issue, but unless somebody invents a laptop nuclear reactor for powering your home, the guys with the big bucks and purchased politics will have to build the nuclear infrastructure. I sure as hell don't want to build any more coal infrastructure here in America. Furthermore, I am suspicious, for environmental and human health reasons, that those corny biofuels will not solve America's EC. (We gotta feed that corn to our cattle so we can eat 'em!)

 

—Larv

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...